From Under This Hat: Finding out I always had an Ili

By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
www.nordis.net

The authors for the Baguio History reasearch are finalizing the book this year after a long long hiatus and I am very glad that it is. Following it always makes me go back in time and helps me recognize timelines, milestones and significant or special places in the town I grew up in.

When I was in grade school, I wondered why all my classmates had an “ili” other than Baguio City. Why do they have communities other than Baguio to go home to on the summer break. I felt lonely in that spot of being different. Then I eventually realized that it can be that my mother and her parents and family had Loakan as their “ili” and my father had Apdi in Kafagway. and I had Belshang but I also remember P.Burgos and Guisad.

Well, from Belshang, where my family settled, to Apdi or Loakan was a long way for an eight year old then, until I learned hiking paths with my siblings that brought us to Balakbak, Bakakeng, Camp 7, Loakan, Benin and Asin, etc. to play with cousins and meet new friends, and forage for wild berries and fruits, mushrooms, vegetables, frogs, fish, crabs, jojo, etc. which to my mother’s consternation we brought home and demand it be part of our supper no matter how little or how plenty.

We have scathed and bruised our selves in the process, chased by a wild black bull when we crossed an estancia in Tuba, turned into stone with fright as a ten foot snake slithered across our path, we even scared our selves to death going through the crystal caves without light (an older cousin came after us with a torch and saved the day.) This cousin also led us into the mummy caves along the nearby hills and up to Sto. Tomas.

A favorite adventure was hiking down Asin road, bathing or wading in every river along the way, and in every house where somebody calls out, “Hooey, whur ar u guuing?” To which we would respectfully reply and are rewarded with whatever fruit or root to eat along the way and given a task to pass a message or package to our parents or the next house along our way which were very few. Until we reach the Asin swimming pool and hot bath and spend most of the day until the sun slides down a bit to the west. Then we dress up and give our thank-you-uncle to the care taker of the pool and the watchman at the turbine room where sometimes on long weekends we are allowed to camp out overnight.

Every adult we knew we called Aunty or Uncle, I got worried and asked my mother if all of them were our relatives. It looked like all those people who had an ‘Ili’ elsewhere were not relatives and those who had houses and a yard with fruit trees in Baguio and Tuba were relatives.

It was when I was in grade six that I and my brother next to me dared venture sometimes alone and sometimes together around the City to homes of relatives introduced to us by our parents. It was a challenge to remember all we met or went to. It was also around the time I realized there was a first, second or third degree relatives and had to learn who is who among the Ibaloys, who are the Ifugao, the I-Mainit, I-Fontok, I-Lubuagan, etc.

And so on, I have grown much older now (of course) yet all those childhood adventures and exposures which at that time, were not as significant as the next planned or unplanned adventure (in my childhood that I could remember). I now still find these memories very helpful to me at reaffirming data found and used to help bring out the history of the city… now, I have my ili..#nordis.net

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