December 2, 2022

Councilor Elaine Sembrano has proposed an ordinance that sought to institutionalize the annual celebration of the Gong Festival in October and appropriating funds.

The proposed ordinance aims to create a venue for the convergence of the various cultural groups in the Cordillera and other parts of the country where they would be able to share their knowledge.

The institutionalization of the festival also seeks to instill among the youth the value of tradition and indigenous culture and enliven Baguio City’s culture, arts, crafts, and heritage in support of the city’s status as one of Unesco’s creative cities.

The Gong Festival, which was conceptualized in 2012, started from a spontaneous walk along the main thoroughfares of the city to promote the film “Kanana Kanu” by its cast and crew wearing G-strings and holding spears and shields. The succeeding year, more individuals joined the activity to celebrate the Indigenous Peoples Month. The activity was eventually called the Gong Festival.

Under the ordinance, P200,000 shall be allocated annually in the budget of the Tourism and Special Events Division under the City Administrator’s Office for the purpose and shall be used in accordance with accounting and auditing rules and regulations.

For the proper implementation of the ordinance, the city mayor through an executive order shall constitute the Gong Festival Committee to be composed of the mayor as chairperson and president of the Indigenous People’s Education for Arts, Culture and Empowerment Inc. (IPEACE) as a co-chairperson.

The members will include the sanggunian’s committee on tourism, special events, parks and playgrounds chairperson; committee on education, culture and historical research chairperson; two representatives from the IPEACE; Tourism and Special Events Division under the City Administrator’s Office; a representative from the Department of Tourism-Cordillera, and other members as may be deemed necessary, once convened by the mayor.

The Gong Festival Committee shall prepare the implementing rules and regulations for the ordinance and other necessary guidelines for the successful implementation of the festival.

The functions of the committee shall also include the preparation of the activities during the month-long functions and coordination with the different IP communities/groups for their active participation during the celebration.

The proposal has been approved on first reading and referred to the sanggunian’s committee on tourism, special events, parks, and playgrounds for review and recommendations. – Kimberly Badang