Cariño: Baguio Connections 10

THIS week, we start with “Igorots.”

To begin, the term “Igorot” by itself somehow and strangely, remains controversial. There are many, be they Igorot or not, who, despite the discussions ad infinitum on the term, are -- in a word -- uncomfortable with it. As for this column, we’ve said and do so again, we do have Igorot roots and we are proud of them.

To be more specific, my family’s Ibaloy roots are those that are indigenous to Baguio and Benguet.

My father’s name was Leandro “Andy” Cortes Cariño. He was a lawyer-politician who died too young in 1985, leaving my mother Ruby Lopez Tan Cariño a widow when she had yet to get to age 50. She will be 83 this year, thank you God.

I’m the eldest of their children, and I have two brothers and two sisters. The bros are Leandro Mateo “Matty” Jr. and Daniel Martin “Dandan”. My sisters are Helena Jeannette “Heli” and Juanita Myrna “Annette”.

Right at this moment, I am actually wondering where this is going, but the point of “Connections” is precisely, to connect point to point, free flow, and see where we wind up.

I am looking at names, and Matty’s Mateo is from my father’s grandfather, Mateo, the famed uh, Igorot chieftain. My mother says that Dandan (whom to her is Danieling) is named Daniel after he who triumphed over that biblical lion’s den. A roar of a name indeed.

Helena was also the name of one of my father’s aunts, sister of his father, Dr. Jose. Juanita is a nod to my father’s mother, Juana, who was also called Annette.

As I write this, it is the 12th of January, the birthday of Matty, Andy/Matt, Mattias. He would have been 59 today. There is a candle on our mantel to lovingly remember him by, and for my mother, siblings, and myself, our day is given to prayers offered for him and to flowers, that he himself planted in the yard, getting to the cemetery.

That Baguio cemetery. At the center of it is this circle of a mound with a gazebo in the middle. I noticed only lately that architecturally (hello, Dan Brown), the circle mound is home to the smaller circle formed by the gazebo, with sidewalks emanating from the gazebo to form a cross. Ergo, the center of the cemetery is a circle mound with a smaller circle in it, from which a cross emanates.

Take a camera in your mind’s eye and zoom out from above the gazebo. The center of the cemetery is thus that circle with a cross coming from out of the smaller circle in the middle of the mound, forming a symbol considered sacred and/or mystical in many belief systems.

And that is where we pick up from next week.
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