10th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) Consultation
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
July 26-29, 2019
Up above the clouds, the Igorots arrived at the so-called, ‘the-gate-of-the-after-world’ and wanted to claim their rights to enter but Saint Peter appeared and asked them, “Who are you?” “We are Igorots,” they answered. “What are the Igorots good at as a people?” Again, the Igorots answered in chorus, “Igorots are good at almost everything.” “Okay, prove it.” They responded, “Igorots are good in practicing conservation of resources, they are good in defending their territories and values, they have their own exemplary arts and literatures, and above all they are also good in transmitting their genes.” Saint Peter was not satisfied so he hammered on demanding them, “Show me proofs.” So one Igorot brought out a memory stick and plug in, switched on the wide screen and activated the remote control. On the screen, there appeared a picture of a relatively well-maintained ecosystem. They said, “you see, ‘our precept of “get only what you need’ guided us to conserve our fauna and flora”. The next photo is a headman holding high a severed head of an enemy. “What is that?” Saint Peter shouted furiously. They explained, “Please do not get mad, this only shows how good and dedicated the Igorots are in defending their territories, values and resources against aggression.” Then comes the famous rice terraces and traditional houses coupled with songs, narrations, gong rhythm and dances. “Your holiness”, they said, “what you are seeing and hearing is among the many exemplary arts and literatures of the Igorots. The song you are hearing is the ‘hudhud’ and ‘alim’ of the Tuwali tribe of Ifugao and the narrations are the spontaneous recitation of the ‘uggayam’. Above all, the Igorot people are good in transmitting their genes. They are not anymore confined in the Philippine Cordillera region but they are everywhere around the world. The proof is that, on July 26 to 29 of 2019, the ICBE will be holding their biennial consultation in the Netherlands hosted by the MABIKAs Foundation.” Convinced and satisfied with their deeds, Saint Peter proclaimed. “Solved!” and welcomed the Igorots.
In the fictive dialogue, the statement, “Igorots are almost good at everything” is not being “mayabang” but an affirmation that we, Igorots, are a people that is uniquely inspiring at the same time very intriguing. Towards the end of the 19th century and at the turn of the 20th century when societies of that time condoned the human zoos, our Igorot ancestors were in those exhibitions and /or have joined in those exhibitions and newspapers of that time honestly admitted that they were unique attractions. Now, is this not saying that Igorots are good also for exhibition? Very intriguing, is it not? Tonight, we shall witness how good we are in our dances, music and traditional attires. In addition, please allow me to say that while we are good in wearing our native costumes, we are also good-looking people with our indigenous attires, are we not?
There are more to acknowledge of what Igorots are good at. While our ancestors have shown how good they were, Igorots today are manifesting being good in various fields of arts like the team lakay, talent shows, pageantries and above all, in the field of education. We must take note that at a certain time in our history when education became accessible our ancestors have quickly realized its salvific aspect. Thereby, our old folks wished their children and their children’s children to participate into the arena of formal education. Thus. within the reach of their limited resources powered by their strong will, we indeed have fellow Igorots who excelled in various fields of expertise on top of the many professions like teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, priests, military academe and many more professions. I stand to say that we are good not only in our country of origin but also overseas. Igorots are good OFWs because in spite of our small earnings, we endeavour to help our siblings, nieces and nephews in their education to earn a degree.
Furthermore, we are also good in practicing cooperation. With humble affirmation, let me state that our ICBE gatherings is a testimony. Igorots worldwide including our ICBE are actively supporting the Igorot Global Organization’s scholarship program. Although we admit that its impact is very limited, it is nevertheless an expression of our firm belief in education as the road towards a better quality of life. Just as our ancestors wished us good education, it is the same wish we pass on to the next generation and the generations to come. The wish however is that as we acquire knowledge from other cultures, it should never suppress our indigenous knowledge but rather it should compliment and/or substantiate. Remember that our indigenous knowledge, though seemingly with many weaknesses, is a knowledge that has emanated from our immediate milieu. The knowledge we acquired from other cultures needs processing, as there are things we have to unlearn from it, in order to aptly merge and to enrich whatever indigenous knowledge we have in the “ili”.
Fellow Igorots, I had been talking about being good in many things. Although being good is good enough, the challenge to us and to you young Igorot generations of today, is to aspire to be better and even to be the best. As all sorts of knowledge appear to be accessible nowadays, we rely on you, our younger Igorot generations, to strive to do better and find the best combination of what you learned with our indigenous know-how, as you become scientists, inventors, and/or creators of useful goods, be it machines, medicines, food making, conservation of the environment and other things.
The Cordillera is a region blessed with abundant resources yet we Igorots of today find it hard to invest fully on our young scientists and students to engage in laboratory experiments, to invent and to create. While such dream seems gargantuan, in the sense that experimentations, inventions and creations need repetitions before they arrive at perfection, it is not beyond our reach except the dream of raising the dead from their graves. You and I are certain that such dreams can happen because we, Igorots, also have the abilities. The challenge, I repeat, is to aspire to be better or be the best. Keep in mind however that as we get inspired by new discoveries, let not our indigenous knowledge be brushed aside but instead should be taken as a guide so that whatever that is experimented, invented and created will be suitable to the populace, to the “fauna and flora”, and to the mountains, hills and plains of the Cordillera.
Finally, I hope and pray that what I am saying here today may not pass as fantasy but rather become a reality. What I said here is achievable through the path of education guided by a correct vision with a firm belief in the God of our ancestors, the creator of all living and non-living, of all that is seen and unseen. Lastly, let me conclude this talk in words and in actions that should any good result comes out from our human activities, may we heed and faithfully practice the words of the wise men in the villages, “Aditakon bukudan di gawis. Ipeyas tako”
God bless the Igorots!
God bless us all!
27 July 2019