Not Your Ordinary Grandmas

(PIA) -- Bowed legs, wrinkly skin, and streaks of white hair – they may look like your ordinary grandmas but their seemingly frail physique is no hindrance to the Bontoc Women Brigade to boldly patrol the nooks and corners of the Bontoc valley.

 

As people start to get ready for bed, members of the Bontoc women brigade also get ready to start their night rounds. With their flashlights and some wooden canes in hand, they head out inspecting computers shops, restaurants, and karaoke stalls.

Authoritatively, they tell off youths who have stayed out way pass the 10:00pm curfew to go home. Patiently, they remind establishment owners of the liquor ban and wait out until the last drunk is home.

“When there are drunks who have passed out in the streets, we drag them home or bring them to the police station if we can. If not, we try to put them in more secure area and leave cartons as blanket for them,” Bontoc Women Brigade Caridad Feshway shared.

As the night grows deeper, these “Ikit” (a term of respect for older women) also get into “real” action especially when dealing with drunkards. They single-handedly drag drunks home and break off fights. They pacify stubborn young men and deal with the shouting during fights. These elderly women give their hundred percent commitment in keeping peace and order in their barangays.

Commitment for the Future

Commitment is one of the most difficult things to give but for the Bontoc Women Brigade, nothing is hard for the sake of the future of their children and community.

Bontoc Chief of Police Faith Igualdo shared that since the women brigade started conducting night rounds, violations of curfew for minors, the liquor ban, and fighting incidents have decreased. The respect that the community have for the elders made the Bontoc Women Brigade more effective force multipliers.

“Noong nagstart sila (Bontoc Women Brigade) dun talaga napakalaki ng impact. Medyo mas bata pa sila noon,” Igualdo added.

After fifteen years of continuous efforts to help in the implementation of municipal ordinances, the Bontoc Women Brigade has been recognized by various agencies and organizations. They are the best practice of the Bontoc Municipal Police Office and the model for the La Trinidad Women’s Brigade and other municipalities in the Cordillera.

The Bontoc local government unit also gives the group Php50,000 yearly while the Provincial Government, at times, gives budget for uniforms. There are also donations of equipment from government and non-government organizations and individuals.

A Need for More Extraordinary women

In 2003, at least 40 women started the Bontoc Women Brigade under the leadership of then Councilor Caroline Castañeda. The organization is composed of four groups who do rounds in the four major barangays of Bontoc – Poblacion, Bontoc Ili, Samoki, and Caluttit.

As years passed, some of the members died while some were no longer able to join the night rounds as they have grown weak and suffered from arthritis. Many of the members are in their 60’s and 70’s with the oldest active member aged 79.  

The challenge for the organization at present is the recruitment of new members who can continue the peacekeeping efforts of the pioneer members.

“Wala pang recruit na bago, yung younger generation sana,” Igualdo said.

The members of the Bontoc Women Brigade are your typical grandmothers who experience joint pains, blurry visions, and hearing problems that come with age but what makes them extraordinary is the commitment they give for the sake of the younger generations and the future of their communities. Juliet D. Pilotin(EDT/JDP/JPM-PIA CAR)

 

EL Kikasa

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Mt. Province Destinations

Alab Petroglyph

The Alab Petroglyph is a huge rock formation that was inscribed with bows and arrows and is believed to have contained the ancient fertility rites of natives.

Backstrap and Loom weaving Houses ( Samoki Weaving)

This is where one can see an actual weaving by the locals. Tourists can come to this place for a photo-op and a chance to try their hand at weaving. Souvenirs can also be bought at these houses.

Bay-yo Rice Terraces

Bay-yo Rice Terraces are a smallet type of terraces that is spectacular to look at for tourists.

Bomod-ok Falls

Cascading white water and with a forceful might sending sprays of water that even on a hot day gives you an idea of just how freezingly-cold the pool at the bottom of the falls is truly a majestic sight to behold.

Bontoc Village Museum

It features a range of artifacts crafted by the Igorots for domestic purposes, to be used for traditional celebrations or practices. Inside the museum, one could appreciate the distinct richness of the Igorot's way of life.

Mt. Amuyao

The 8th highest peak in the Philippines with an elevation of 2,702 meters above sea level. Its summit provides its climbers a breathtaking panoram of Mountain Province, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao and Cagayan Valley.

Mt. Clitoris (Tadian)

This is a sacred mountain regardless of its name. Standing proudly and serenely over 3 villages, this conical-shaped land mass is said to be home to some enchanted eels.

Mountain Province Trade Center

A mini-shopping center managed by the Department of Trade and Industry where skillfully crafted indigenous products are sold.

Sagada Hanging Coffins

Having their coffins hangng at the limestone sliffs is an imrtant tribal custom that thee locals have complied with through hundred of years.

Sumaguuing Caves

Two hundred fifty or so steps down a slipery trail, one can reach the Sumaguing Cave. This is one of the Philippines famous spelunking sites, it is a spectacular place to go to for the adventorous soul.