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1,000 Gongs

In celebrating the 19th founding anniversary of Kalinga, native sons Gov. Jocel Baac and H. E. the Most Reverend Bishop Prudencio Andaya Jr., CICM D.D., erred on the side of caution and neglected to invite an official witness to their goal of 1,000 Gongs.

Until now, the Guinness Book of Records bestows the honor of the symphony of 1,000 Gongs to Clocked Out, the Australian Percussion Gathering in 2010.

AWONG Chi GANGSA (Call to a Thousand Gongs). Last 13 February at Tabuk City, more than 3,000 formed the words “K A L I N G A S H I N E S” to the rhythmic beat of 1,370 gongs. (Not counting the children with their own gongs; another group of 16 played “500 Miles”.)

MIRABILE DICTU! More than the record-breaking numbers, the “canao” brought under one fold the 45 tribes from 8 municipalities and the City of Tabuk (some of whom habitually warring or in vendetta with another).

ONE NATION, ONE PEOPLE. This feat owes to the idea of Amelia Miranda, a Kalinga-Spanish mestiza, and the principal coordinator, the Elder Tribal Presidential National Treasure awardee Alonzo Saciag Sr. Behind the scenes like a stage prompter was another native son of Kalinga, Maj.Robinson Saclag.

Ms. Miranda, concluded “Let the call of the thousand gongs then be a call to rid conflicts, division and selfish motives among our leaders and people towards a united and progressive province!”

When Bishop Andaya assumed the diocese in 2003, there were only 193 students in the school which provided “education only good enough for the Kalinga”. He gathered the teachers and together they turned it around and raised the vision from “the least common denominator” to “What education can aspire to”. Today there are more than 1,4000 students in he two schools in Kalinga – the St. Louis College of Bulanao (SLCB) in Tabuk and the the Sta. Teresita School (STS) in Lubuagon.

Last week the Bishop packed on a bus 45 teachers from SLCB-STSL, including three nuns, for bonding on an excursion to Manila. Many of the participants have not seen a world beyond their native Tabuk City, let alone the mega malls.

Besides soaking the city lights, the visit included a visit to a Corinthian Gardens home, where their host treated them to fine dinning. (“La Tasca” catered.)

Kalinga proved no different from sophisticated Manila. Shy at the start…but slowly warming to the music by husband-and-wife Rey (keyboard) and Chiqui (singer), the teachers took turns at the mike – proving that the top hits aren’t exclusive to the big city.

(So much so that the “Singing Nuns’ – Sr. SheilaM. Carpentero, OSA, Sr. Aurelia Marie Jasmine, CSFN, and Sr. Masianita Baay, CSFN – were disappointed that they were not handed the mike.)

The tour group also dropped by the Sto. Nino chapel at 222 E. Rodriguez Ave. where the resident celebrating priest the Rev Fr.Bel San Luis SVD. gave his place to Msgr. Andaya to celebrate the mass which was broadcast at last Sunday’s Channel 5 TV mass. The chapel resounded to the chants of the “Gloria” (Abra Ilocano version) and “Here I Am” (Tinglayan Kalinga version). The Sunday gospel about God the Father’s abiding providence for the birds (how much more man?) cued the Bishop’s homily decrying the “mine-ing” and “selfie” habits of modern day world.

Manila’s schoolchildren wouldn’t complain of one-and-a-half hour school bus rides if they knew that Kalinga school children hike two to three hours daily to feed their hunger for education.

Msgr. Andaya says that SLCB-STSL now add feeding program to the lessons, after learning that some of the students get by only on water for the day. Through the school children, the teachers convey the message of peace and harmony to the Kalingas.

Kalinga is a dream. But even during martial law, then President Ferdiand Marcos failed to realize its potentials with Chico dam – which would have brought energy and trickle-down benefits to the Kalingas. The proud nation resisted the intrusion because the mega dam would have inundated much of the land, including the ancestral burial grounds. (The dam would have reached as high as the Sagada hanging coffins.)

Msgr. Andaya and his teachers continue to preach the gospel and to labor for the Kalinga people because, as a good shepherd. he knows that man is both body and soul. FEEDBACK: jaz_aide@yahoo.com