TABUK CITY, KALINGA (15 February 2023) — Presidential Peace Adviser and Defense Chief Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Wednesday commended the people of Kalinga for their ‘Bodong’ culture, describing it as highly-successful and effective approach in maintaining peace, order and security in their communities.

Galvez was guest of honor in the commemoration of the 4th Bodong Festival and the 28th Founding Anniversary of Kalinga as an independent province of the Cordillera region since its establishment on February 14, 1995.


The Bodong Way

Bodong is an indigenous judicial system that has been practiced by the people of Kalinga and nearby communities since time immemorial. It has been crucial in preserving peace among the different Kalinga sub-tribes.

What began as a system to secure trading partnerships, Kalinga villages elevated the process to include the protection of property and of life, crafting a set of laws and by-laws which must not be violated in order to keep the cordial relations between villages.

“Tunay na kahanga-hanga ang Bodong system bilang isang conflict resolution mechanism ng ating mga kapatid dito sa Cordillera. At nakikita natin hanggang ngayon ang mga resulta ng sistema na ito sa pagtamo ng tunay at makabuluhan na kapayapaan dito sa inyong lugar,” Galvez said in his keynote speech during the event.

“Ang OPAPRU po ay kaagapay din ninyo sa pagresulba ng mga boundary conflict dito sa inyong lugar. Naniniwala po kami na hindi natin kailangan gumamit ng dahas upang makamit ang ating layunin. Kinakailangang magkaisa at magtulungan po tayo sa paglikha ng mga kondisyon na kung saan ang tunay na kapayapaan at pag-unlad ay ating makakamit,” he added.

Used as an instrument for peacekeeping, solving cases of crime, and forging relationships, the Bodong is considered a holistic communal process, which is reflected in almost all aspects of the Kalinga people’s lives — negotiations, rituals, dances and songs.

“Filipino traditions such as festivals are one of the strong ties that bind us as people. It gives us a national identity and pride as a society with rich cultural heritage, traditions, beliefs, languages and national mouthpiece. The Bodong has become an enduring symbol of peace and tolerance. Today, we see how the people of Kalinga live peacefully amidst the backdrop of the Cordillera mountain ranges,” Department of Tourism Undersecretary Ferdinand Jumapao said.

According to Rep. Allan Jesse Mangaoang of the Lone District of Kalinga, the Bodong Festival is also “a show of renewal of commitment to solidarity”.

“Our observance and practice of our culture is dedicated to solidarity. As we gather today to dance with the rhythm of our gongs, we also renew our commitment to our solidarity. Our solidarity in order for our families to enjoy an enduring peace, our solidarity to stay united despite our differences in ideologies, political affiliations and beliefs. Each one has the moral obligation to commit to the attainment of our aspirations for our province,” Mangaoang said in his message.

In September 13, 2022, Galvez along with the Governors of Kalinga and Mountain Province signed a peace covenant that aims to further strengthen the partnership among the provinces in the region and lead to the development of more progressive communities.

The covenant is part of the Marcos Administration’s efforts to bring genuine peace and sustainable development in the Cordillera Region and throughout the country.


Dalutag (Strong and Brave Tribal Leader)

Galvez is now an adopted son of Kalinga. He was given the name Dalutag, which means strong and brave tribal leader. This is in recognition of his contribution pushing forward the peace process between the national government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration-Cordillera Peoples’ Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) as peace adviser.

He thanked the Provincial Government and people of Kalinga for the honor bestowed upon, saying that he will continue to support the government’s peace process with the CBA-CPLA, as it is a testament to both parties’ steadfast commitment to peace, security and development in the region.

“Isa pong napakalaking karangalan para sa akin na maging isang adopted son ng Kalinga. Gagawin ko po ang lahat para ipakita sa inyo ang aking pagpapahalaga sa karangalan na ito sa pamamagitan ng pagtulong sa patuloy na pagsulong ng kapayapaan dito sa Cordillera,” he said.

Galvez was joined by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Presidential Assistant Isidro Purisima, Asec. Susana Guadalupe Marcaida, and Dir. Christina Loren B. Umali.


A thousand gongs, a thousand bangas

Galvez stood witness as the Province of Kalinga set the Guinness Book of World Records for the Largest Gong Ensemble Dance composed of 3,440 male gong dancers, and the Largest Banga Dance with 4,681 banga dancers.

The sound of gongs filled the air, as thousands of people trooped to the streets to join the festivities as their beloved province made history. The event not only showcased the rich culture and history of the Kalinga, but more importantly, its steadfast commitment to peace.

“The sound of the gongs also represents the expression of the peace and understanding among all tribes not only in Kalinga but throughout the Cordillera region. The Bodong is conceptualized and established to show the highest regard to the borders of our respective lives, property and geographic delegation,” Kalinga Vice-Governor Jocel Baac said in his welcome message.


Support for Cordillera’s genuine autonomy

Prior to joining the festivities, the OPAPRU executives met with the members of the Kalinga Provincial Council led by Kalinga Governor James Edduba, Vice-Governor Jocel Baac and other local leaders.

During the meeting, the officials discussed the Cordillera people’s quest for genuine autonomy, as the OPAPRU reaffirmed its commitment in helping the region’s leadership achieve its vision.

“As we have pledged before, the OPAPRU will relentlessly push forward on this call for autonomy, of course with the help of the local government units,” Purisima said.

“We have seen how autonomy changed lives in the Bangsamoro, the communities were thriving there, we know for a fact that Cordillera will prosper even more when given self-determination,” he added.

“We congratulate Governor James Edduda and other Kalinga Officials for achieving two world records by mobilizing more than 8,000 tribal traditional gongs and pot ensembles on this very historic and significant event,” Galvez said.

Galvez said the historic event will help cement the Cordillera region in the global tourism map.

“This will help spur the development of the Cordillera through tourism,” he said. ###