VPSD Speech for Kalinga 28th Founding Anniversary and 4th Bodong Festival

Event Date and Time: February 13, 2023 at 10:50 am



Magandang araw sa lahat.

Thank you very much for inviting me to be part of this celebration. It’s a privilege to be here today, to celebrate Kalinga’s 28th Founding Anniversary and 4th Bodong Festival.

Kalinga has been fortunate to have a rich, peaceful, and close-knit community. The strength of your foundation is built upon the peaceful co-existence between the six ethnicities and their special fidelity to the local government and the tribal traditions, for which this province is highly recognized.

Foremost among these precious traditions is the Bodong, a peace-making system used to forge relationships, resolve conflicts, deliver justice, and preserve peace between communities by preventing violence or retaliation.

That this treaty or peace pact remains effective and has been recognized as a viable alternative dispute resolution only means that Kalingas have a deep respect for tribal leaders and elders as well as your cultural traditions.

The practice of Bodong in modern times is a testament to how strongly you have preserved your cultural heritage. As such, the Kalingas are the perfect role models for our plan to integrate peace education into our basic education curriculum to teach Filipino children and youth how to resolve conflict peacefully without resorting to violence.

The Bodong Festival is therefore a gathering that showcases the inexhaustible strength that the people of Kalinga have been known to possess - the same strength that served as a foundation leading to the recognition of the autonomy of your province 28 years ago.

This is a convergence of time that embraces the humble years of independence, paying homage, from the depth of your hearts to the leaders before you who, through their sacrifices and tireless fight against cultural and environmental aggressions, ensured the safety of your province and maintained the charm it possesses.

As a visitor, I am filled with enormous awe at seeing the beauty of Kalinga. It is my first time here in Kalinga. It feels like I'm in Davao because in Davao, we hold 11 different indigenous people’s tribes as well. It is mystifying, and I am certain the people who came here and have returned again and again can attest to the comforting vibe of the place and the resonance it brings to those who find refuge in a landscape that remains resplendent and never quiet with its cultural stories. It is a true wonder of our country.

Your commitment to hold out strong in the evolution of your heritage, governance, and independence is an important asset- a phenomenal example for others who seek to establish a democratic community despite ethnic diversity and differences.

You all live in a much-treasured land, similar like Mindanao, harmoniously managing the use of your beautiful rice terraces and the bristling Chico River — this precious inheritance that enables you to uphold the ancient orientation to agriculture, promote artisan livelihoods, and other methods that can only be found here, in Kalinga.

I am proud of the uniqueness of your province, and more so of the strength of its people to preserve it, and the loyalty of your leaders who affirm your collective aspirations. You have so much respect for the sacredness of the environment and maintaining this moral value is a noble accomplishment.

As we start implementing Executive Order 138 empowering our local government units toward full autonomy and greater resiliency, I enjoin our local leaders to prioritize investments in education.

It has always been said that education is the greatest equalizer. Sa edukasyon po, walang mahirap, walang mayaman — lahat po sila ay graduates.

In my Basic Education report last month, I underscored the lack of school infrastructure and resources to support the ideal teaching process as the most pressing issue pounding the Philippine basic education.

There is a need to build, repair, and maintain school infrastructures to accommodate the growing number of learners all over the Philippines. Today, let me take this opportunity to reiterate the urgency of appropriate action and collaboration between the Department of Education stakeholders from the local government units, the private sector, and international partners.

Right now, in the Department of Education, we are consuming two tracks — to solve the problems of DepEd. One is the traditional track that we do — build our classrooms, hire more teachers, and the other is the institutionalization of the blended-learning program leveraging of the technology that is already available worldwide.

I also enjoin you to fight against insurgency and drug addiction that continue to endanger the life and future of our Filipino youth. Let us stand guard against the recruitment of our highly impressionable youth by keeping them in school. Our peace education program will help students disengage from extreme ideals and behaviors and ultimately build resilience against terror and resist the lure of drugs.

We may be welcoming the unprecedented transition into the digital age, adjusting to the new normal post-pandemic, fighting against insurgency and drug addiction or pressed by climate change and natural disasters, but I am confident that you will always come forward to rebuild Kalinga as one of the country's most admired treasures.

The resilience of Kalinga is inherent to the hands whose skills have been molded by history. And as children of yesteryears, you are now the parents and the leaders responsible to maintain the dignified stature of your homeland and to lay the same foundation for your children's success and of the future generation.

Noong ako po ay mayor, lagi ko pong pinapaalala sa mga barangay kung saan po ang aming mga Indigenous People’s Tribe na kahit na ang mga magulang ay mayroong inter-marriage o ang pag-aasawa ng bisaya at ng IP, dapat natuturua na rin nila ang kanilang mga anak kung ano ang kultura ng pagiging miyembro ng Indigenous People’s.

I support your efforts to continuously elevate the sanctity of your province. I am behind you in your next pursuit of economic transformations. And I am one with your local leaders in the collective efforts of improving the lives and welfare of your people.

Magbigay lang po ako ng karagdagang updates sa ating teachers kung ano ‘yung ginagawa namin sa ating Department of Education Central Office. Unang-una po ay nire-review namin ang Magna Carta for Public School Teachers at patuloy ang pakikipag-usap namin sa mga members ng House of Representatives at Senate kung paano mau-update ang ating batas sa Magna Carta for Public School teachers.

Pangalawa po, ang patuloy namin na pakikipag-usap sa Department of Health sa panawagan ng ating mga guro sa libreng medical check-up.

Pangatlo po, ay ang pakikipag-usap namin sa GSIS. Ina-acknowledge po nila ang lahat ng demands namin at sinasabihan namin sila na dapat po buwan-buwan ay mayroon kaming coordination meeting hanggang sa maayos namin ang mga accounts ng ating mga teaching and non-teaching personnel sa Department of Education.

Ang pang-apat po, ay mayroon po kaming kinakausap na mga grupo ng mga abugado na kung pwede ay tulungan nila kami na mabigyan ng free legal advise ang ating mga guro bago sila pumirma ng kontrata ng loan obligation o utang. Dahil napakahalaga po na maintindihan ninyo kung ano ang pinipirmahan ninyong kontrata, at ma-explain sa inyo ng isang abugado kung ano po ang mangyayari kapag kayo po ay in default sa inyong pagbabayad sa inyong loan obligations. Kaya po kami, nakipag-usap at naghahanap ng partners para po nationwide, ay mayroon mapupuntahan ang ating mga guro para makapagpakonsulta sila kung ano ba ‘yung pinipirmahan nila.

’Yan po ang mga updates namin sa Central Office sa mga ginagawa namin para sa pagtulong sa ating mga teachers sa paulit-ulit nilang problemang hinaharap, hindi lamang sa pagtutuo kundi sa personal nila na mga buhay.

Uulitin ko po, napakalaking honor ko na makasama ko kayo at maimbitahan sa inyong celebration. Know that you will always have a friend in the Office of the Vice President.

Lahat po ng ginagawa natin, para sa Diyos, sa Bayan at para sa bawat pamilyang Pilipino.