Green recovery and regional autonomy advocated on Cordillera month

“Working together towards Cordillera autonomy through green recovery”.

This was the theme for this year’s 34th celebration of the Cordillera Month hosted by the Watershed and Environmental Management Sectoral Committee of the Regional Development Council-CAR. The Sectoral Committee is chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-CAR through Regional Executive Director Ralph Pablo.

The theme highlights the need for a sustainable and resilient return to growth and development after COVID-19 through environment-friendly technologies and practices for production such and ecosystems restoration. These technologies and practices include the investment on and use of renewable energy, regenerative agriculture, responsible mining, and indigenous knowledge, systems and practices in watershed and natural resources management.

The celebration also brought to mind the call for unity among Cordillerans to attain regional autonomy, an aspiration the Cordilleras has had for more than three decades now.


Cordillera Month kick-off

On July 1, the celebration was kicked off with a ritual and a ceremonial simultaneous tree planting activity in all provinces. A total of 4,066 seedlings of various species were planted across the region during the activity.

The tree planting activity was followed by a live and virtual Kapihan joined by various stakeholders from the public and private sectors in the region. The press conference was hosted by Philippine Information Agency-CAR Regional Director, Dir. Helen Tibaldo while serving as panelists were DENR-CAR Regional Executive Director, Engr. Ralph Pablo; Environmental Management Bureau-CAR Regional Director, Dir. Maria Victoria Abrera; Department of Agriculture-CAR Regional Director, Dir. Cameron Odsey; and National Economic and Development Authority-CAR Assistant Regional Director, ARD Stephanie Christiansen. Other officials of the Regional Development Council-CAR; provincial, city,and municipal government units; different government agencies; and non-government organizations also joined via Zoom.

Discussed during the kick-off program was the regions existing efforts and plans on green recovery, it's three-decade quest for regional autonomy, and other related matters such as highland agriculture, ecosystem restoration, and the indigenousness of the Cordilleras.


Cordillera Day celebration

The month-long celebration was highlighted by the Cordillera Day program on July  15 where government officials and ordinary citizens, alike, celebrated the region’s indigenousness and called for strengthened unity towards Cordillera autonomy and green recovery. Keynote Speakers were DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu and Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar whose keynote speeches put emphasis on sustainable practices in environmental management and agriculture to sustain the region’s natural resources.


Advocacies and promotional activities

Apart from the highlighted events, several other activities were conducted in celebration of the Cordillera Month.

Every Sunday of the month, various were showcased and sold by Baguio-based micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) along Session Road. The activity allowed MSMEs to promote high quality local products that are truly Cordilleran.

Every Monday of the month, the 3rd International Conference on Cordillera Studies was held. The series was organized and hosted by the University of the Philippines Baguio - Cordillera Studies Center. It provided a venue to discuss timely topics relevant to indigenous communities.

Series of webinars covering topics such as environmental management, ecotourism, agriculture, entrepreneurship, and consumerism among others were also conducted. To be more specific, government agency partners hosted webinars on ornamental bamboos; climate and disaster risk assessment; vertical gardening; aquaponics; green consumerism and sustainable consumption; sustainable tourism and carrying capacity; topics related to the region’s booming weaving industry; rocknetting; and environmental statistics.

Other activities also conducted were those catering to different audiences and the varying interests of Cordillerans.  Among these are a virtual energy investment forum; a nature and wellness assessment; the smart destination forum; a biking activity; a community-based culinary activity; a nutrisong contest; creative pottery-making; and tourism officers meeting.

The limited face-to-face and virtual activities were spearheaded by the Regional Development Council-CAR, itself; Watershed and Water Resources and Development Extension Center; the Department of Energy-LFO; the Department of Tourism-CAR; the Department of Trade and Industry-CAR; the Department of Science and Technology-CAR; the National Nutrition Council-CAR; and the Philippine Information Agency-CAR.


State of the Regional Address

On July 30, the Cordillera Month celebration was culminated with the delivery of the State of the Regional Address.

Forming the panel were chairpersons and members of the different committees of the Regional Development Council-CAR. The 2020 State of Region Address was delivered by RDC-CAR Co-chairperson Philip Tingonong while the 2020 State of Regional Development was delivered by NEDA-CAR’s Assistant Regional Director, ARD Stephanie Christiansen. During the forum session, each committee of the RDC-CAR were given the opportunity to report about their major accomplishments for the previous year, as well as their strategies in addressing challenges affecting their sectors given the pandemic.

The forum was followed by the symbolic turnover of leadership from the Watershed and Environmental Management Committee to the Social Development Committee, and the distribution of tokens to the chairpersons and members of the different committees of the RDC-CAR.