“Our home has always been everybody’s home,” recalls Ingerith of her childhood home in Sagada and Baguio. This love for people explains why she and her family are now into law practice.
My name is Ingerith Udaney Pooten. Udaney is my Igorot name and was the name of my father’s grandmother. I am the second and youngest daughter of Richard Stone Bagano and Conchita Balagtey Pooten. I have one older sister Averil Branwen “Wendy” Watan.
I am 23 years of age and currently working in a law firm which specialises in Property law.
Like my father and older sister, I am a law graduate. I obtained my Bachelors of Law with High Honours from the University of Westminster in 2002. I completed my Post Graduate studies in law at the Inns of Court School of Law where I obtained a Diploma in Law with a Commendation in 2003.
I would firmly attribute my success in finishing my studies to my heroes; my parents. Igorot values were impressed upon me from a young age. I remember when we were young my mother’s favourite phrase was, “You can do anything you like, anything ONLY once you finish school.” So my mission in life became to finish school so that I could do as I pleased! I later realized, of course that I wanted to finish school - to get a decent job. Even so, I know that because I am still young I have a lot to learn however I am honoured to my family heritage and proud to be part of a culturally rich and unique community.
My earliest memories of my grandparents in Sagada and Baguio had been their stress on the importance of education. This has been instilled in me through the years, and I have always felt the drive to aim for the best. I feel extremely fortunate because my parents have always supported all the decisions I have made in my life so far, and have never allowed me to feel their times of struggle and hardship.
The values I have learned to appreciate the most have been that of hard work and sacrifice. I firmly believe that these qualities can be found in all Igorots and I know my parents are only testaments to that. Looking back on my parents lives brings a huge wave of admiration and pride inside of me. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for my parents when they first left the Philippines. My mother came to England at a young age and became qualified as a Nurse. My father is a lawyer. After only a few months of passing the bar, he left the Philippines and any career aspirations he had in order to join my mother who had recently given birth to my older sister. The sacrifices our parents made and the lengths they went to achieving all they have now has been a driving force of inspiration for me to strive to do better in life. It only brings tears to my eyes, thinking back and appreciating the sacrifices my parents gave for us and our family (close and extended).
Our home has always been everybody’s home. Welcome to all. This is an attribute which I know is a common thread between most Igorot homes and is one that I admire and am sure will continue with my own family and our home.
I am currently a Youth co-ordinator and member of Igorot Youth U.K. Our achievements to date include: organising the Medical Mission trip to Besao, Mountain Province, Philippines in 2000. More recently, with Aunty Caridad Fiar-od’s permission, I was able to produce a screenplay, “The Dawak” that was taken from her book “Dawak - A System, of Rites in Igorot Living 2004.”
I would say that I actively take part in all workshops organised by Igorot Youth U.K and regularly dance with the group. Our performances include participating in various cultural functions and exhibitions throughout the U.K namely.
At present I am part of the steering committee for a project that has been commissioned by The British Heritage Fund in conjunction with the BME (Black Minority Ethnic) U.K to produce a cultural exhibition, “Weddings of the World.”
I am thoroughly proud to be part of a youth group one which involves my family and enables me to promote my Igorot roots to British society and the Filipino community in the U.K, in a positive way.
This article was published in the Souvenir Programme of the 6th Igorot International Consultation (IIC-6) held in Melbourne, Australia on April 20-23, 2006. Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) would like to thank Ingerith Udaney Pooten for granting permission to post her article in the ICBE website. (Y. Belen)