November 30, 2023

After a three-year hiatus, the sound of gongs and revelry filled the capital town of Bontoc in Mountain Province as officials and residents celebrated the 16th Lang-ay Festival grand street dance and the 56th founding anniversary of the province on April 5.
The street dancing mixed category and the street dancing children’s category, and street chanting mixed category and cultural showdown with competitors from the 10 municipalities of Mountain Province drew thousands of spectators from the province and other parts of the country.

The participants who represented their respective towns showcased their graceful dancing to the beat of the gongs, exhibiting the different ethnic dances in the province such as the takik or the courtship and community dances.
The children’s street dancing category made it all the more interesting as the kids displayed their prowess in the cultural dance and beating the gongs and solibaos (conical tenor drum) just like the adults in the community. 
Also, the mixed chant category reintroduced the community to the age-old chants, some usually performed during planting season and special events in the community, while others performed more lively and creative chants about the Lang-ay celebration.

Usec. Joseph Sagandoy, Deputy Presidential Legal Counsel, who served as the guest of honor during the celebration, urged the people to preserve the good cultural values of the province.
Sagandoy, who grew up in Bontoc, said that culture is also evolving as it adapts through the changing times, adding there were cultural practices before that are not practical to conduct in the present times.
“But there are many aspects of our culture that have endured over time because they are inherently good or beneficial to the individual and the community in general. These are the values, beliefs and practices that have survived and have now become parts of our identity as Igorots from Mountain Province,” Sagandoy said.

He cited the values of Mountain Province such as being a peace loving people, a people who values hard work,  the og-ogfo or bayanihan, the strict observance of the inayan and the protection of the indigenous practices such as the music, dances and cultural attires which is being passed on from one generation to another.  
“Our culture forms part of our identity as a people, as such we need to preserve it as much as we can,” Sagandoy said.      
Also, the people of the province have a culture of resilience such as what is observed during the pandemic when the community was able to survive on their own.

He said with the upholding of these cultural values, it could  act as a guidepost to the future of Mountain Province. 
This year’s celebration is with the theme: “Strengthening communal capabilities for cultural protection and appreciating cultural richness as instruments for more resilient and peaceful communities.”
Police Regional Office-Cordillera Director B/Gen. David Peredo, Jr., who hails from Sagada, also graced the event which gathered people from all walks of life during the celebration. – Ofelia C. Empian