A JURY of his peers - the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) - is being asked to disqualify former two-term regular Pampanga representative Juan Miguel "Mickey" Arroyo from continuing his legislative work, this time as representative of tricycle drivers and security guards under the Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP) party-list group.

According to the news, AGP founder Bernard Corella has questioned how tricycle driver Danilo Antipasado could afford the P10,000 filing fee and P150,000 docket fee in his petition to disqualify Arroyo as AGP representative.

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A news report, according to Antipasado, said he earns P200 a day plying a route in Novaliches City while Arroyo was ranked 22nd richest among members of the House of Representatives. Corella said AGP does not only represent security guards and tricycle drivers but also vendors, small businessmen and overseas Filipino workers. Corella claims Arroyo belongs to the entrepreneur group that, Corella pointed out, AGP also represents.

Countering Antipasado's claim that Arroyo was not an AGP member long enough to be its nominee, Corella said Mickey joined the party in 2007 and has helped fund its medical missions and its campaign for party list representation in the last elections.

In the same or another token, somebody must have also helped fund Antipasado's filing and docket fees. There's good reason to believe that whoever he or she is, he or she is also not a security guard or a tricycle driver. Chances are he or she is also an entrepreneur and a member of Ang Galing Pinoy or of another party-list group also seeking representation.

Really now, Arroyo may not be and may never be a security guard or tricycle driver but he can represent them. As twice-elected regular congressman of his district in Pampanga, he did represent a constituency that includes tricycle drivers and security guards. They, too, voted for him twice because they truly believed he could and would represent them as he did represent the rest of his district constituency.

It may be a fractured juxtaposition, but the issue brings to mind the debate about whether we up here in the Cordillera mountains should be identified as Igorots. It took delegates of the second Igorot Global Organization, assembled at the Green Valley Country Club here, almost a day discussing whether to call themselves Igorots. By vote, they decided to call themselves Igorots, but the debate is still on, sometimes through the internet, especially among expatriates from the Cordillera.

Personally, I've long settled that. By birth I am an Igorot, particularly of the Ifugao kind, more specifically of the Tuwali-speaking one to which both my parents full-bloodedly were born and belonged. Yet there are also Igorots not by blood and birth, but by heart, choice and sentiment. Through their work and action, they are more Igorot than many of us who proclaim Igorotness as a birth right, and much more than some of us who deny that identity because of the derisive connotation of the term, even if it means "from the mountain."

Arroyo may not be a security guard, much less a tricycle driver, and may never be. Still, he can well represent them by heart, sentiment and choice, action and work. But the issue in his case is of legal dimension. Our case up here in the Cordillera and out there where you can find someone looking like one, is one of personal choice - to be or not to be identified as Igorot.

As indicated in their campaign leaflets, some of our elected members of Congress or the sanggunian were once bootblacks and newsboys, if not tricycle drivers or security guards. Having had the actual feel of being any of those, they can truly represent them. Problem is they had long transformed from these marginalized sectors, thereby giving rise to the need for the party-list system to empower and give a voice to newsboys, bootblacks, security guards and such.

Over in a tribal village in Nueva Vizcaya, anthropologist and missionary Delbert Rice, an American by birth, has been working for years helping uplift the life of the community he chose to spend his life with and in. His studies led him to conclude and to proclaim the tribe or ethno-linguistic group should be rightfully known as Kalahan.

Many in the community, including tribal elders and elected leaders, however, reject their being labeled as Kalahan and made known to Rice that they are of the Kalanguya tribe. Years, back municipal and tribal leaders in Tinoc, their tribal homeland in Ifugao province, signed a letter advising Rice to stop imposing on them a tribal name they refuse to accept and be called.

Fermin Balasuit, a former comptroller of the Kalahan Educational Foundation that Rice established, noted that I-kalahan means "from the forest". "Pastor Rice," he said, "lives in the forest and mountains of Imugan; therefore isn't he also I-kalahan? He, I, or anyone who lives in the forest can be called I-kalahan. But not everyone is Kalanguya. In his case, he's an American and can never be Kalanguya."

I'm almost certain the Kalanguya would, if they haven't, "adopt" Rice as a Kalanguya, if only he gives up his theory that the people he lives with, and did so much for, should be called I-kalahan. Our leaders in the Cordillera normally do that out of respect. The late Sergio Kawi, then the titular head of the Cordillera (in his capacity as chair of the defunct Cordillera Regional Assembly), did just that. He presided over a ceremony adopting then President Joseph Estrada as a Cordilleran, giving His Excellency an Igorot name and tribal gear to wear.

Even without the formality of an adoption paper, we lesser mortals also relate well and feel we also belong to communities who embrace us. I'm always at home, not in form but in substance, whenever I'm in Gonogon, that first village of Bontoc, Mt. Province when you're going there from Baguio.

Comedienne Candy Pangilinan, I guess, now also feels at home in Baguio, after tearfully apologizing before the city council for a miscue. "Tao ako, hindi Igorot (I'm human, not Igorot)," she uttered while performing at the SM Mall here, triggering protests from Igorots by birth and sentiment. Her representative explained the correct line on the script was "Tao ako, hindi Igorot statue."

Accepting her apology, the City Council, composed of Igorots by birth or choice (if not adoption), declared her its ambassador of goodwill. Go ye, Candy, to help tell the rest of the world that Igorots are as human as anybody else. They, too, embody human qualities, among them the virtue of forgiveness.

As a European friend once observed: Nothing works in the Philippines, but everything is possible. Or, to borrow a party list group's avowal by name: Ang galing Pinoy.

Talaga. (e-mail: mondaxbench@yahoo.com for comments).