By Christine Moncado

At last the sound of Kabunian gongs has reached the Netherlands!

After decades of missing the warmth and homeliness of having a home away from home, the MABIKAs Foundation has finally sprung to life to serve that purpose. The acronym MABIKA stands for the 6 provinces in the Cordillera (Mountain Province, Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao) and the lower case ‘s’ signifies plurality. Needless to say, the word mabika in our local language means strong.

The organization aims to unite and empower all Netherlands-based Cordillerans through education and deeper understanding of our ancestral and cultural roots. Furthermore, it is also the foundation’s objective to establish ties with other Cordillera organizations abroad as well as other Filipino and Dutch communities in the Netherlands.

The making of MABIKAs Foundation was made possible because of the strong determination of Filipino entrepreneur and Kapangan born Myra Colis, coupled with the unending support from Cesar Taguba of the Ecumenical Ministry for Filipinos Abroad and Migrante-Europe and Yvonne Belen of the Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE). The groundwork for the establishment of the organization is further strengthened by the solidarity and cooperation that pioneering members of the Board and kakailyans in the Netherlands have put forward.

The pioneers of MABIKAs Foundation met for the first time on September 3, 2016 to get things started. (From left to right: Joy Tallayo & daughter, Myra Colis and son, Renijune Abaya, Cesar Taguba, Mercedes Dewalan, Yvonne Belen, Aida Tingalon and Ronnah Tingalon.

In cooperation with the Cordillera Community in Belgium (Cordi-Bel), the initial MABIKAs community gathering was marked by cultural community dancing with the music of the gongs and solibao, which were interchangeably played by kakailyans. To many who have attended this first Igorot community gathering in the Netherlands, it felt like being home away from home.

The first Igorot community gathering took place on December 10, 2016 to celebrate the making of MABIKAs Foundation (then called The Netherlands Cordillera Connection) in line with the celebration of the Christmas season.

From eight pioneers to currently 20 active volunteers and over 50 members on its Facebook group, MABIKAs Foundation continues to grow with strength and purpose. Moving ahead, the foundation looks forward to hosting the 10th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) Conference in 2019. Its pioneers and volunteers are also excited to perform the Philippine Cordilleran dances at the upcoming Philippine Independence Day celebration on June 10, 2017 in The Hague, Netherlands.

There’s much more to be done, and the MABIKAs Foundation Board of Directors and volunteering kakailyans in the Netherlands are committed to fulfill its mission of (1) building solidarity amongst Cordillerans in the Netherlands, (2) strengthening our cultural heritage, (3) promoting the Cordilleran culture abroad, (4) empowering fellow Cordillerans to become beacons of light, and (5) taking some actions to uphold our dignity, rights and indigenous identity.

This piece is also published on the Northern Dispatch (Nordis) Weekly on April 23, 2017.


Christina T. Moncado is from the kankanaey tribe of Benguet and Tadian. She used to work as a community organizer, community relations officer and a contributing writer with the Northern Dispatch in Baguio City.