The distinct and rich culture of the indigenous peoples in the Cordillera, including some of their products and handicrafts also took center stage not in a festival, but during a five-day sports tournament in the Summer Capital last week.
Thanks to the people behind the inaugural Cordillera Golfers Foundation, Inc. Invitational Tournament held at Camp John Hay Golf Club and Pinewoods Golf & Country Club for ensuring that micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs in the region will benefit from the event that drew 67 teams from all over the country, including two teams of expats.
Each of the close to 300 players received as token either the woven back pack (commonly called pasiking) or a set of bolo and knife crafted by season blacksmiths, a wooden frame, or items from the Sagada Cave Arts and Crafts.
These tokens were bought in Mountain Province, Kalinga, and Ifugao.
With Benguet as this year’s host province, dozens of young and old performers from Kabayan, Benguet, known as one of the bastions of the rich culture of the Ibaloys, came to perform the much-sought “bendiyan” culture performance to the amazement of the crowd, especially those who came from Central Luzon, Cebu, and Davao.
CGFI Incorporator and Kabayan Mayor Jun Bantales, Jr. has volunteered to shoulder the expenses incurred in bringing the group to Baguio to perform during the awarding ceremony at CAP-John Hay Convention Center Garden Wing.
Winners in the regular and seniors division also received wooden trophies with well-crafted small gongs as the centerpiece which also represents unity made by seasoned woodcarvers and gong makers from Mankayan, Benguet.
In an audio-video presentation presenting the birth of the CGFI, the unique landscapes and cultural practices of the proud Cordillerans were likewise presented.
Winsome members of a group of past candidates for the Ms. Benguet complete in their native garb were also on hand to assist the organizers during the welcome dinner on May 17 and awarding ceremony.
During awarding ceremony, CGFI officials led by president Arnel Peil have assured the participants and sponsors that proceeds of the tournament will fund the civic projects and programs of the group.
This include the allocation of P2.4 milllion, which will be equally divided by the eight schools division offices of the Department of Education-Cordillera for their identified priority projects in partnership with the private sector.
DepEd-Cordillera through its representative thanked the tournament organizers and sponsors for including learners in the region as among the beneficiaries of the CGFI civic projects.
In his speech earlier that night, CGFI Chair Doulas Rufino said it is but natural to see glitches in staging such tournament. He said: “No matter how perfect the planning is, there will always be some glitches during its implementation.”
He added: “This event is no exception to such scenario, but considering that this is the very first tournament organized by a very recently established foundation called CGFI, by any standard our tournament has passed the test with flying colors.”
The two CGFI urged the players to join them next year for the second staging of the tournament which is expected to row.
Rufino, Bureau of Internal Revenue-Cordillera director, added: “Gentlemen, you are part of a great tradition in the making. We commit that next year would be bigger in terms of number of delegates, better in terms of food, beverages and accommodations, and more luxurious in terms of giveaways, freebies and prizes. Spread the word in your respective golf clubs.”
The tournament is a product of a hard three-month work for CGFI, which was incorporated by Peil, Rufino, Bantales, Arnold Tolding, Francis Cuyop, George Punasen, Ericson Felipe, Elias Bulut Jr., Joselito Tan, Rudolf Dimas, Ceasar DR Pasiwen, Nestor Pablo, Allen Jesse Mangaoang, Bond Holden Mangaoang, and Brandy Abeya, who is also the group’s treasurer with Marlo Quadra as corporate secretary.
Peil, meanwhile, announced the sponsors will be provided with a financial report when independent audit is done.
– Text and photos: Harley F. Palangchao