By Robert L. Domoguen
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
ADIVAY? “In Benguet, that means let us come together and celebrate.” That is how I heard Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan explain the word in a recent interview with an ABS-CBN crew right after the opening ceremonies for the Adivay Agri-Trade Fair at the Wangal Sports Complex, La Trinidad, Benguet last November 17. 2012.
There may be deeper and profound meanings to the word among the natives of Benguet. But let me pick up that simplified meaning for this write-up and join my voice to the chorus: “Adivay Benguet.” Cheers!
During the opening program of the abovementioned affair, Governor Fongwan said “this is the 112th anniversary of the province.” His talk reflects on the time when the first civil government was established here. This reckoning of the anniversary of Benguet looks at the province with a deep ancient past when it comes to civil governance.
Republic Act 4695 or the subdivision law of 1966 was signed into law by then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. It divided the Bontoc, Ifugao, Benguet, Apayao, Kalinga, and Amburayan and Lepanto that constituted the old Mountain Province under Philippine Commonwealth Act No. 1876 into distinct provinces.
So when all of Benguet comes together at this time of the year to celebrate a province-wide Adivay, it commemorates or celebrates a fact or a reality of civil government beyond the subdivision of the old Mountain Province in June 18, 1966.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Executive Director for CAR, Marilyn V. Sta. Catalina, in a message read in her behalf by DA Regional Technical Director Dr. Danilo Daguio, said the nation can truly rejoice with Benguet in the observance of its 112th anniversary and Adivay celebrations this month of November.
Benguet is well bannered as the gateway to the Cordilleras. Over the years, the province has not only demonstrated that in terms of its being the entry province to the region from the south. It is also the gateway for a multitude of ideas, livelihood and industries for development and progress in this highland and mountainous region, she explained.
As a gateway to the region, Benguet’s natural products of water, timber, minerals and vegetables have not only lured investors and people form within the region but all parts of the country looking for livelihood and better life. Benguet has not disappointed many of its good immigrants and has served the socio-economic growth and well-being of the local populace and that of the region and the nation as well. The province was and continues to host all kinds of people from other provinces within the region, nation, and foreigners lured by its cool climate, tourism destinations, minerals and natural industries, livelihood, educational institutions, among others.
Director Catalina also commended the peaceful and mature political climate prevailing in the province. She noted that almost all agricultural operatives and positions in Benguet were maintained by the local government units (LGUs). Some have even added positions to those that were initially devolved to them.
Both Sta. Catalina and Daguio have a mouthful to say about Benguet and its gifts to the nation. In agriculture alone, Benguet farms make almost every celebration in the home or community meaningful. Our Filipino dishes and recipe are prepared with highland vegetables. This is sustained by more than 700 plus tons of vegetables shipped from the La Trinidad Trading Post to various destinations in the archipelago.
I was raised in the mines of Benguet and studied in many of its schools in Tuding, Itogon; La Trinidad; Abatan, Buguias; and, Suyoc and Lepanto, in Mankayan. Travelling around the nation, I meet former classmates whose lives are marked by their fond memories of having once lived in Benguet. We love Benguet too. I would like to think that there is no province in the country whose citizens have not been touched and/or benefitted from shared wealth of the province be it mining or agriculture. With former neighbors or classmates growing up together, we cheer or feel bad about developments in the province.
For instance, among my peers, we grew at a time here when different bamboo varieties thrived with the pines and oaks in our hills. All those varieties of bamboo were woven into many kinds of baskets used by the farmers in the farm and other implements for the home. We cheer that recollection and feel sad with the reality that most of the bamboo are gone now and so with our weavers and supplies. But then again, we cherish the efforts of good men and women who are trying to bring back the bamboo in their habitats. Bamboo was good in Benguet.
I am glad that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is among many other government agencies, committed to the advancement of agricultural and rural development in Benguet Province. Since its establishment as a regional field office, the DA-RFO-CAR, in partnership with the local government units, academe and farmers organizations have been jointly implementing several projects together designed to uplift the living conditions of rural farmers and fisher folks in their communities. The regional office and the DA’s attached agencies to include BFAR, PhilMech, PhilRice, BPI, ATI, NIA, BAR, NMIC, BAS, NFA, FPA, BAI, QUEDAN, NAFC and ACPC and special projects have in many ways responded to the province development needs and requests for assistance. Most of the DA’s foreign assisted projects for the region have not by-passed Benguet Province.
These special projects include the following: RP-German Seed Potato Special Project; RP-German Fruit Tree Project; Highland Agricultural Development Project; First Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resources Management (CHARM) Project, Caraballo and Southern Cordillera Agricultural Development Programme (CASCADE); Second Cordillera Agricultural Resources Management (CHARM2) Project and other small but strategic special projects on organic-based agriculture, climate change, agricultural inputs and rural infra from the Japanese government and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). These special projects were of course undertaken on top of the regular programs and projects of the DA that we implement for the whole region.
Over and beyond Benguet’s natural and mineral resources and the returns from government and other friends of the province, I celebrate Benguet because of its native folks, their culture and sense of goodness. For without them, their peaceful nature, and a character that is suited to the stewardship of the place and its unique role in nation building - all well demonstrated - what is Benguet today and to the lives of millions, if others from any other part of the archipelago came here first? How else define, share in the joys and celebrate Adivay, if not from the native tongue. Adivay, Benguet! May you continue to be a blessing to humanity and be blessed even more in return!