As an Igorot says it: Undiscriminating those discriminated-A A +A
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
AS THE month-long celebration of CAR’s silver foundation anniversary neared to an end, the Igorotlandia or Kaigorotan in its 25 years of existence never ceased instead became steadfast in bannering its identity as part of the Filipino society.
I would like to open with my poem dedicated to every proud and resilient Igorot. It goes this way:
‘Ika ng iba’y taong- bundok ako
Gusgusing indiyong ‘di respetado
Oo, kaso ako ngayo’y edukado
Reklamo ng iba'y may buntot daw ako
O, Diyos ko! Hindi ‘yan totoo
‘Tselaks ka lang! Bahag itong suot ko!
Tawagin ba namang kanibal ninuno ko
Oo ba. Gusto mo’ng mapugutan ng ulo?
Resbak ko nama’y noon lang ‘yon totoo
Oto-uto ka! Ika’y naniwalang ako’y maligno
Grabe! Sabihin ba namang ‘di ako tao
Isaisip mo, nabubuhay din ang tulad ko!
Noon, tanong mo’y nasa’n buntot mo?
Nasa’king harap, gusto mo hawakan ‘kako?
Ngayon, tanong mo’y Igorot ka ‘noh?
‘Ika ko, purong Igorot kaya kausap mo
Sabi mo’t pinagpipilitan pa ri’y Igorot ay Ita!
Giit ko nama’y iba! Bastos kang nagbabalita!
This poem’s content rooted in the 20th century but the 21st century must put an end to belittling statements towards Igorot tribe such as the following:
“The fact remains that the Igorot is not Filipino, and we are not related”, this was written by Carlos P. Romulo in his book Mother America published in 1943.
“Tao po ako, hindi po ako Igorot (I am human, not an Igorot)”, this was blurted out by Filipina actress Candy Pangilinan way back in 2009 during a pre-Mother’s Day show at SM Baguio.
And the most recent and major, major cases of cyberbullying of the model, MC Albano, and the Italy-based OFW, Louie Garcia, whether they are offenders or victims, it once more astir the air with heightened issues of ethnic prejudices and discrimination after almost three silent years.
The word “Igorot” is said to be originally “Igolot” which means “I-gulod” (taga gulod o bundok), pertaining to ‘unhispanised’ and tribal people from the mountains. But because of the Igorot ancestors’ resistance to colonizers before, they were dubbed as uncivilized people. Until today’s generation, being an Igorot bares negative connotations attached to it such as filthy, poor, uneducated, cannibal, has a tail, and other nasty ignorant comments. Nowadays, just hearing the term “Igorot” still invokes images of "savageness" of headhunting and "primitiveness" to the general public. Some may be true but more of these were wrong assumptions and prejudgments that became ingrained in the national consciousness with the aid of careless media and other neglectful educational system.
We, Igorots, neither by lineage nor blood but by heart and mind, together in unity, make this identity discrimination into an opportunity, not an opportunity to self-justify and bark on one’s misinformation, but rather an opportunity to cure others’ ignorance through proper educating and informing.
I believe that tolerance and mutual respect for each other’s ethnicities is what every Filipino must exemplify to eradicate local racism not only among primary ethnolinguistic groups of the country but even among minority ethnic groups in the Cordilleras.
With this year’s Cordi Day theme “CAR at 25: Looking back with pride, moving forward with hope”, every Igorot must have a deeper appreciation of the historical processes that fashioned and nurtured the Cordillerans’ ethnic identity. We should not be ashamed of what have transpired in the past resulting to never-ending racist acts against us. Let not our present bury the past, or better yet, let us learn from the past and move on with positive conviction that we are accepted in our own social community because we belong.
For it is more fun in the Philippines to have an Igorot intelligentsia. A toast to every purpose- driven Igorot!
Happy 25th birthday Cordillera Administrative Region! Viva Igorotlandia! Matagu-tago ka! (Rhe-Ann Ngayaan)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 31, 2012.