By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
May justice and peace take the reigns this New Year, and may we all have a prosperous and a Happy New Year!!
It does not hurt to dream and look forward to the new year with high hopes but it does when we have to mourn the loss of a loved one or a friend. My late mother’s youngest sister, Rebecca or Ebek has decided to go last Friday evening, and it broke my heart because I knew very well I already missed her very much that angst may last a lifetime.
She was one of the kindest women I have ever met. Kind, considerate but firm with her principles, with a fast grip on the highest values of Life. She did have a temper, like we all do, especially when the person she was dealing with insists on being deaf to the right or to the truth and even lie to her face just to get their way. Yet as long as I have known her, she was never selfish and I guess that is why several people (even a number of my cousins) tried to take advantage of her.
As a teacher all her adult life, she was loved and highly respected, her humility and pleasant personality was infectious that just her presence kept many calm. She diligently remained an open-mind student to the lessons of the world, she never ceased to study unlike some of the elders who stop at some point. In conferences or meetings she would ask learned questions. Until her deafness became worst she then would ask for readings and studied them.
Like their father (grandpa Tagley) and her sisters she was also very faithful to her chosen Church.
She was my late mother’s best friend and later her constant companion. During the lobby and assertion for the DENR’s SO. 30 and DAO 02 in the mid 80’s both of them contributed to substantiate and support the education materials about Baguio’s ancestral lands, the logic and insights to the genealogy of the different Ibaloy families of Baguio and their claims.
Even when the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) was being debated on in the House of Congress, in coordination with the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance they helped in the mobilization of the ancestral land claimants of Baguio and Benguet who traveled to Manila with other stakeholders from the different provinces of Cordillera and camped out in the grounds of the Congress compound until they had audience with all the Congressmen of the Cordillera who shared updates on the proceedings and planned with them for a next move.
In Baguio, they met with the likes of the late Atty William Claver, the late Senator Juan Flavier and other supportive officials for the passing of the IPRA or for the respect of their rights as indigenous peoples and the right to their ancestral lands.
When my mother passed, Aunty Rebecca supported us and also continued to lobby for IP rights and organize Ibaloys like the group Aspulan ni Ibadoy, the 2nd Baguio Land Congress, the petition for the Ibaloy Heritage Park and recognition of the Ibaloy Day, She was in the workshop too of the Cordillera Elders Alliance that petitioned that IPs of Baguio be already represented in the City Council (IPMR), and she was present in important meetings to support the process of selection and to support that the officially selected IPMR take his seat. Although she did not wait to see him take his seat, I am sure she trusts that he eventually would with a prayer he shall serve his constituents well.
When age took over and slowed her down, she persisted at her own pace and remained busy with her barangay council activities as lupon member, as a senior citizen group officer, and as a member of the council of elders both in the barangay and in the city in relation to ancestral land disputes.
She is survived by her loving and hardworking children (and their better halves): Julius, Santos, Oying, Nilda and Marlo, and her many beautiful and handsome grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Though many of us have known her to have stood strong in the face of several and very difficult trials thru her life, We remain happy she chose to share her life with us, and that she has left us a concrete Life example of Truth and Love by which we can treasure as our guide all through out life on earth. And for a moment may I be an Ibaloy too and also make a traditional “bilin” thru my aunty, for my mother, father, Butch, and Wawi, who by Ibaloy beliefs are there to meet and welcome her in the Ibaloy spiritual idea of ‘Heaven’… CHEERS!!! # nordis.net