IDENTITY is still core of regional autonomy. In one lunch break amidst short discussions amongst us officemates, Julius mentioned that identity of the Cordilleran cannot be left out in and discussions of regional autonomy in the Cordillera.

Hearing it from someone like Julius who like many others in the office SEEMED unmoved, unconcerned of the activities regarding regional autonomy in the office surprised me. In many of my past columns the identity of the Cordilleran was a central theme. Identity of the Cordilleran as the indigene was discussed with the psyche, worldview and lingua franca of the Cordilleran. The distinct psyche, world view and the oft-repeated unique history of the Cordilleran CONTINUE to be defined and probably refined across time including today when the Cordillera remains an administrative region. National programs/projects that are meant to mainstream the Cordilleran to a certain extent are not that successful. The Cordilleran remains pigheaded as the Igorot.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The assertion of a distinct identity is a product of a distinct history and remains a crucial basis of regional autonomy in the Cordillera. The culture of a people who never suffered some 400 years of Spanish rule from those who did, is quite different from those who did not. The collective memory of the Bontocs, Benguet, Ibaloys, Kankanaey, Ipugo (ifugao), Ikalinga, and other tribes of the Cordillera does not contain the experiences of having a haciendero and haciendas. It is not part of their culture. The villages of the people of the Cordilleras during those 400 years were autonomous. They had their own systems of governance, performed their own rituals, danced their own dances and had their own notion of spirituality. All these are part of culture.

Culture is defined as the way of life. Culture includes LEARNED, SYMBOLIC, at least partially adaptive and ever changing patterns of behavior shared by members of a group/people. Culture is a system. IT IS A WAY OF UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE e.g. Bontocs, Benguet, Ibaloys, Kankanaey, Ipugo (ifugao), Ikalinga, and other tribes of the Cordillera UNDERSTAND THEMSELVES.

Our folks in the ili can only shake their heads as young men from the universities and colleges mix modern dance (steps) with the strides, struts, prances, paces and to the tempos of the gongs. Vincent, a young teacher and a friend DETEST such attempts to mix modern steps with traditional dances. He says "is-is yangkay." By the youth attempts to mix steps and struts with those of the traditional struts, prances and steps they can earn the ire of those who hold and knew the traditional meanings of the steps and struts like Vincent. Dances like any pattern of behavior carry meanings to the tribe. The youth dance to the "pattong" however fashion and whatever they can. "Is- yangkay" is hard to explain in English. I can not find a perfect translation in English. What I am sure of is "Is- yangkay" is close to "bad taste." Not only that it really leaves a bad taste in one's tongue.