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13th Bontoc Am-Among Festival in Hong Kong

| September 30, 2017

BONTOC Am-Among 2017 Hong Kong

A looming thunderstorm on September 24, 2017 did not deter the more than 200 Bontoc Community Hong Kong in celebrating the 13th BONTOC AM-AMONG FESTIVAL in Hong Kong which was hosted by the Riverside Barangays ( Samoki, Tocucan, Can-eo and Talubin).

The event started with a Thanksgiving Mass officiated by Fr. Jay Francis Flandez, SVD. He shared to those present in the Eucharistic Celebration that God’s generosity offers all workers the same share in the Kingdom of God.

With the Theme: ” Napateg ay Kaukhalian Adi Tako Talikuchan Named Isnan Ili Ay Naipushkan” ( Treasure and never forget our Bontoc Culture), the Bontoc OFWs celebrated the yearly gathering (Am-among) of Bontocs and the 109th Foundation Day of Bontoc Town.

Tapuey (fermented rice wine) was overflowing for the participants, guests and audience to taste and drink to their hearts delight.

The sounds of the gongs echoed through Chater Road that everyone is so eager to dance with the beat of the gongs.

The competition this year focused on Choral and Cultural showcase. The Choral Competition is a composed skng in a salidummay tune. Three clusters competed, the Alab-Balili-Gonogon group (ALBaGo), Central Bontoc (Bontoc Ili, Caluttit, Poblacion), and Upland Bontoc (Maligcong, Guina-ang, Majnit, Dalican). The Upland Bontoc took the first prize while Central Bontoc got the second place and AlBaGo was third.

In the cultural showcase only two groups competed. The Cultural presentations were on the Bontoc traditional wedding. The Upland Bontoc got the first place and the Central Bontoc, second place.

Guests from Macau, Benguet Federation, Sadanga Organization, Rambak HK Ili, NLMC-CMC and the Cordillera men entertained the audience.

Punctuating the festival were speeches and messages of the guests from Philippines, Macau and Cordillera Alliance HK.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Yuri Walter D. Akiate, a Bontoc son who is a Doctor in Business Management and in Philosophy, a college professor at the Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
He said that the year Am-among Festival and the town’s founding anniversary is a celebration of the great history as a people; celebration of our way of life; a celebration of all the good things that identify us as Ifontoks.

He further said, “What makes us an Ifontok? Our theme says it very plainly – our ‘UKHALI,’ the deep-set character that springs from a rich history of independence; lovenof land, family, and community; a lasting respect for the traditions of our forefathers; a pride of place so profound that wherever an Ifontok finds himself in the world, Bontoc will always be part of him; ‘Ukhali’ in the sense of all the good values passed down from our elders to us and to out children.”

Dr. Yuri Akiate stressed that the gathering of Ifontoks to share stories, problems, laughters and dreams is the Ifontok value of community at its finest which is made stronger in a foreign land. And keeping the identity as an Ifontok is the Value of Character. Organizing this yearly gathering through singing Bontoc tunes, dancing with the beat of the gongs and celebrate with the richness of our culture and way of life is the Value of Pride of Place.

Our culture and traditions are but thw embodiment of the values of Hardwork, Love of Famiky, Community, Character and Pride of Place. These values are what give the Ifontoks their identity and what give them strength to persevere and achieve.

Dr. Yuri Akiate challenged the Bontoc Community HK to constantly polish, practice and live the values that makes us Ifontoks.

Dr. Virginia D. Akiate, Director IV of the Commission on Higher Education in MIMAROPA(Mindoro Oriental & Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) shared what “Am-among” is.
A – stands for ‘Ama ed Chaya’ the Almighty Father. All blessings, peace come from above. In Bontoc culture, we always acknowledge the ‘intutungcho’(the One above) in our gatherings.
M – ‘Managtulong’ ( helpful). There’s progress in the community if we help each other. This can be seen in our culture of ‘og-ogfo’ especially during the agricultural cycle; even in good times during wedding and in bad and sad times when someone is sick anf when there is death in a family.
A – ‘Anus’ ( patience and diligence) is the reason why there’s progress in our community, Bontocs are patient and diligent.
M – ‘Makedse’ means strong and resilient. We never give up, we have our ups and downs butbwe are the people who never give up. The more we are being stepped on, the more we rise to the top.
O -’Ornos’ means unity. United to succeed in all plans.
N – ‘Nacmeg’ (behaved). By nature, the Igorots are good-mannered. We have respect for elders as seen in our organizations and the ‘ato.’ The Bontocs are not bastos. We have what we call ‘Inayan.’
G – ‘Gawis’ tako. The Bontocs are God-fearing people, that’s why there’s what is called ‘nga-ag’(bad).
She reminded the community to always start with God and end with God

Councilor Alfredo Amok Awichen, represented the Local Government of Bontoc, congratulated the Bontocs for strengthening the cultural gathering. He updated the community on the 109th Foundation Day of Bontoc Town where the celebration focused on the theme “Championing Change, Embracing Values and Prosperity For All. He said to be strong for loved ones and for Bontoc.

Mr. Cyril Cacay, adviser of Mountain Province Philippines Macau Association congratulated the Bontoc Hong Kong for another successfull Am-among.

The Secretary General of Cordillera Alliance, Baneng Mendez, said that Oneness of a community to celebrate Bontoc culture is in itself a united community. She updated the gathering on the Defend Land, Life, Resources Coalition under the initiative of Suyo Ilocos Sur Association (SISA) where the community is being threatened with large scale mining and where some parts of Mountain Province are affected. The Energy Power projects is also threatening the source of living of the Cordilleras. She invited the community for a further discussion on this coalition on October 15, 2017.

The festival ended with the banner dance to the beat of the gongs. The dance signified the Unity, Strength, Patience, Resilience and Goodness of the Ifontoks.

Editor’s note: video by HKPInoyTV; article contributed by Ms. Lucia Rose Afidchao




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