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The Birth of BIBAK Suomi

By: Fargo Bcn

It’s with great pride and honor to attend the first BIBAK Suomi General Meeting held in Naantali, Southwest Finland, close to the famous city of Turku. BIBAK Suomi was established formally seven months ago and has garnered 177 full pledge-registered members from Turku, Helsinki, and its neighboring towns. Coming from the city of Tampere, which is two hours drive away from the venue, I’m grateful to be attending this momentous event in the history of the Cordillera people in Finland. BIBAK Suomi was organized through the initiative and collective efforts of professional nurses and their families from the Cordillera, who migrated to Finland from the past ten years to the present. The demand for nurses in this part of the globe has increased within the decade, and Finland is becoming a popular destination for nurses to venture. This has prompted kakailians to organize BIBAK Suomi.

From my close discussion with BIBAK Suomi Chairman Jam Espada and Secretary Rowena Batnag, the inspiration and the immense desire challenged them all. The motivation and enthusiasm were overwhelming. Each one contributed to making an effort by volunteering their time to meet up despite their hectic work schedules. I believe that it’s the eagerness to gather as one people that encouraged each one to sit down and work on the Constitution and By-Laws of the organization.

The Nordic and Scandinavian regions may be the least European countries that we hear about Cordillera gatherings, but here we are, alive and growing. The significant Igorot diaspora has spread widely and has many great stories to impart. From this "land of the midnight sun," it is truly a pleasure and honor to listen stories from different experiences with the Finnish language. I myself am so impressed listening to how much our kakalilians have integrated into the Finnish culture, yet not forgetting our Igorot language. Those of us who grew up in the homeland are used to speaking at least three or four languages. We don't have an inhibition that limits our attempt to learn foreign languages. In Finland, where the language is very difficult because it's a Uralic language that is completely different from the Indo-European languages spoken in Europe, it's one of the primary challenges for every immigrant has to embrace aside from the very cold weather with dark, and long winter. Learning a new language is not easy, but when we hear it spoken enough, it becomes a part of our language repertoire.

Beyond languages, the Cordillera people of the mountains have an adventurous spirit. If there's a view from the other side of the mountain, we don't hesitate to climb it. Leaving the Cordillera might not have been everybody's choice, but coming back to join us in this gathering is a choice. We have journeyed from Igorotlandia to this foreign land, and we must come back to our roots even for a little while to share our talents, experiences, good fortune, and above all, to affirm that we are Cordillerans. To say thank you, Cordillera, for we will always be Cordillerans.

The first BIBAK Suomi gathering once again proved that the Igorots from the Cordillera were unified people in strengthening the ties. The strong bond that has been passed down to us by our ancestors is not lost. Wherever we are, local or abroad, our authentic Cordillera identity is essential to us; our culture and native language are the ones we value most to be able to preserve and protect, not vanish.

Congratulations once again, BIBAK Suomi, for this successful endeavor! Let’s make the Igorot diaspora spirit alive in all the corners of the world. May we all be encouraged to play our role in strengthening and protecting our identity as a people and to make BIBAK Suomi alive by giving a respected voice through which it can accomplish even more and be heard. All these are steps towards eventual success until we become the force for ensuring that Igorot traditions are preserved, and issues affecting us are addressed.


Listed below are the names of elected officers for the term 2022-2024: President - Benjamin Espada • Vice President for External Affairs - Annie Kiley • Vice President for Internal Affairs - Joseph Taguibos • Vice President for Finance - Barney Joven • Treasurer - Clarke Salingbay • Secretary - Rowena Batnag-Harri • Assistant Secretary - Liza Jane Dumaguin • PRO - Artmetal Codod • Representatives: Roselyn Jattu, Grelle Epie, and Roxanne Gomuad • Social Media Manager - Lieve Taguibos PHOTO CREDITS: Laarni Aggac, Kc Karie, Lilia Lacay Ta-ao, KJ, Mai, Lorethes Pacuz Peregrina, Barney, and to all others who shared their photos. Thank you.


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