EVER wonder why there's a statue of an Apache Indian mounted on a horse at one of Baguio City's road circles? In early 2008, I was taken in as a peon along with four others in what elders and braves of our group in Baguio refer to as the Apache nation. We were rookies and in order to prove our worth, we needed to abide by the rules of the Apache and gladly, it does not include scalping of enemy heads because there were none.
Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans originally from the Southwest United States. The Apaches of Baguio does not trace their descendants from far away but the founding members who were into sports like basketball named their team Apache following the heroic exploits of Geronimo, the prominent leader and medicine man from the Bedonkohe band of the notable Apache tribe.
History tells us that in the late 1800s, Geronimo joined other Apaches to carry out numerous raids against Mexican and US military campaigns in the northern Mexico states and southwestern American territories which started with American settlement in Apache lands.
Towards the end of his life, he harbored religious feelings and told the Christian missionaries at a summer camp meeting in 1908 that he wanted to start over, while at the same time telling his tribesmen that he held to the old Apache religion.
During our recent 80th Anniversary program in Baguio, the new peons composed of 3rd generation sons of our elders were able to meet our elders and past chiefs. I actually noticed two of the elders in their walking canes but during our group singing, our song master Atty. Conrado Bueno yanked his stick as we sang our version of the "big black bull that came from the mountain."
When our guest speaker said his piece, one can hear a pin drop when we heard the words...
"I'll not hesitate to give up my life, my career and my ambition to stand up for what is right. For the programs that we are implementing in the city of Baguio, I don't intend to fail." Mayor Benjie Magalong graced our 80th Apache Grand Anniversary and spoke about his 6 point agenda which accordingly is based on good governance.
A former top intelligence officer of the CIDG, Mayor Nagalong also said that aside from the Apache Indians, he found out that together with the Navajo, these native Americans value their family so much which is one of the core values of the group.
Our event was also attended by the pillars of Baguio community to include; civic leaders and professionals of the Apache Nation namely, our current Chief, Angel Agustin, PC Erlindo Tesoro, PC Emeterio Manantan, PC Richard Cariño, Eders, Des Bautista, Benny Carantes, Rene Cortez, Vic Agcaoili, Conrado Bueno, Joseph Rulla, Alex Aquino, Reinaldo Bautista Sr., and other Geronimo Awardees Sonny San Pedro and Ricardo Chan Jr.
If there's one thing that these mixed generation of men from Baguio's past and present are quite familiar with, it's the act of celebrating life with fellowship, fun, food, faith and family.
As we usher the new year, we will again lit a bonfire as part of a tradition that started eighty years ago by the founding members.