by Rex Botengan
You have asked me to share with you at this conference the story of the Igorot Global Organization, popularly known as, the IGO. I am pleased .to respond to this request because IGO is the story of passionate debate, excitement, tenacity, and drama. The story is a testament to the tenacity of the Igorot in fighting for the recognition and preservation of a priceless ethnic identity.
The idea of an Igorot international organization was proposed at the 1st Igorot Consultation in West Covina in 1995. For lack of time, the proposal was tabled for the next Consultation in Virginia in 1997. At the 2nd Consultation, BIMAK DC, then headed by Mia Abeya, presented a resolution to form an umbrella organization that would kind of coordinate programs of the various Bibak/Igorot/Cordillera organizations around the world. The idea of an international organization was universally acceptable, I think by the conferees, but to name the organization “Igorot” was vehemently objected by a minority.
A clarifying resolution was then presented to change the name “Igorot International Consultation” to Cordillera International Consultation, and to name a consequent international organization “Cordillera International Organization” instead of using the term Igorot to describe such an emerging organization.
The resolution to change Igorot to Cordillera evoked a heated and passionate debate, but in the end the vote was 80% in favor of using the word Igorot, and only 20% favored Cordilleran.
With the Igorot name retained, another resolution was passed to form a Committee to work the mechanics, structure, programs, and purpose of an international umbrella organization. The Chair of IIC-2, Mia Abeya, then called for volunteers to the organizing committee, which was called the Planning Committee. Rex Botengan was chosen to chair the Planning Committee to plan an international organization for presentation at the 3rd IIC in Baguio City.
The planning committee met several times to come up with a purpose, structure, bylaws, and programs of the emerging organization. But these planning sessions had been punctuated by the tenacious desire of a few to change Igorot to Cordilleran. And always these planning meetings had to repeat itself by re-voting to use or not to use the word Igorot to describe the emerging organization.
The Vancouver Planning Meeting in 1999 was a dramatic one because the Philippine delegation, headed by the Chairman of the National Commission for Indigenous people, Atty. David Daoas, and the Mayor of La Trinidad, now Vice Governor Edna Tabanda, came to the Vancouver meeting armed with a Philippine resolution, signed by several civic organizations in Baguio and Mt. Province, proposing that the term Cordilleran be used instead of the word Igorot. There were about 150 people at the planning meeting in Vancouver, including 55 delegates from the Philippines. After heated debate on changing Igorot to Cordillera, the dramatic vote was that only three people stood up to vote in favor of changing Igorot to Cordillera.
The final drama on the word Igorot came up at the 3rd Consultation in Baguio City in 2000. In the midst of the general assembly meeting of about 500 delegates, I was privileged to read the first resolution to form an Igorot international Organization and name it, as had been previously suggested by Arthur Butic, The Igorot Global Organization. After I read the resolution, the presiding officer asked for any discussion. Nobody stood to say anything. Then the presiding officer asked, “Those who are against the resolution, please raise your hands.” Lo, and behold, not even one hand was raised. – Just silence. And the chair declared, “The resolution to form an international Igorot organization, to be called The Igorot Global Organization” is passed unanimously by acclamation.”
So after three years of intense debate, IGO met as an endorsed organization in Baguio City, which proceeded to approve a set of constitution and bylaws, the election of the members of the Council of Elders, and the election of Rex Botengan to be the interim chair of IGO.
At this point, I’d like to recognize the members of the IGO Planning Committee for their tenacious fight to preserve the Igorot identity. These people include Arthur Butic, Carol Cappleman, Jovita Luglug, Albert Bacdayan, Carolyn Bacdayan, Conchita and Richard Pooten, Edwin & Mia Abeya, Marshall & Adele Wandag, Michael Wandag, Tim Botengan, Lori Zavalla, Hugo & Grace Prill, Pete Dominguez, Bishop & Mary Zabala, Lambert Sagalla, Willy Austria, Wagner Buting, Claus Agpad Nabert, Ching Aspillaga, Johnny Copero, Angela Ola-o, Mildred Dacog, Judge Sylvan Katz, Rex and Janet Botengan, and others.