I’VE waited for the storm to pass before writing this piece that is very close to my heart, as the leaders of BLISTT finally held their dialogue to resolve the challenges and issues that hounded the supposedly united towns—particularly the temporary restriction of La Trinidad, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay residents to Baguio City. Whether it was because of communication gap, execution, or politics, what’s important is that the incident reminded our leaders of the importance of the real “dialogue” or “tongtongan” that our ancestors have taught us, especially when it concerns the lives and livelihood of people.
The public uproar to the temporary restriction, on the other hand, is an expected reaction by the LISTT people to the initial perception that Baguio City’s decision is capricious and unilateral. For them, there is a rule written in our ethnic and geographic fabric, family ties, and long history as one people, that LISTT people are considered i-Baguios. Not as visitors or tourists, not even just neighbors, but as i-Baguios themselves. Hence, the high emotions. Add the anxiety and stress brought by the lockdowns, and Covid-19, and we have a bomb.
But all's well that ends well, and we cannot hold on to our heavy grudges for long. We must understand that the actions and decisions of our officials are in good faith and primarily for the welfare of their constituents, especially in these extraordinary times. Our leadership must also understand that their power emanates from the people and their welfare and that our culture requires both strong hands to implement actions, and listening ears that consider the sentiments and concerns (including criticisms) of people.
The BLISTT concept, an agglomeration of the City of Baguio and five municipalities of the province of Benguet, namely La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay, is grounded on unity, cooperation and shared development. That is why I would hate for another chaos and misunderstandings among the BLISTT areas in the future, after all, the name BLISTT should be an environment of BLISS.
I was asked about my “pedigree” or my right to talk about BLISTT or about Baguio City, so I might as well write a summary here.
My father is from the Ingosan-Gabol clan of Irisan, Baguio City, which meant that he descended from the original Ibaloy clans of Kafagway. Up to the present, my relatives are living in Pinsao and Guisad. My mother, on the other hand, was raised in Itogon—another miner’s daughter.
Our family settled in La Trinidad, Benguet, but all of us studied and even worked in Baguio City.
Aside from having Sablan, Tuba and Tublay as our playground and recreation spots, we also have friends and relatives who are living therein. We did not think much about the geographic borders of BLISTT, because we know that the areas and their people are all part of the same thing—“awan ti naisinsina, awan ti naisabsabali.”