From Under This Hat: February, Philippine American War commemoration

By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
www.nordis.net

My second brother who migrated to Japan, was born today some 62 years ago, and every year at this time since he migrated, I still wonder what he does on his birthday. I am worried sometimes that he has forgotten it already. When we were kids it seemed that our parents would put a simple party for our birthdays only if we asked to celebrate it and if we did not, our Dad would say, “let us go watch a movie na lang,” or let us go to Asin hotsprings or the beach. We did not call these a birthday celebration because they were a greater treat than ice cream, cake, and to serve and take care all of one’s invited guests.

Happy birthday, Ando san.

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In a recent press release it said, “On the 119th anniversary of the outbreak of the Philippine-American War, ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro called for the official commemoration of Febuary 4 as “Philippine-American War Day” to honor the sacrifices of the countless Filipino heroes who fought for our freedom from the U.S. of A.”

While we now celebrate independence day on June 12 to observe independence from colonial Spain, instead of July 4th as declared by the Amercian colonial state as the Philippine independence day from the US of A. Later on Ph history books make June 12 history more credible than the latter. I rather find it a more significant commemoration of Febuary 4 as “Philippine-American War Day to honor the sacrifices of the countless Filipino heroes who fought for our freedom from the U.S.”

About this period (maybe 1900), there is a part of the history of Baguio, stories from my mother and some gathered by my oldest cousin on my father’s side, and which I later read in one of the history books on Baguio but I could not recall which one, that told of the first company of American soldiers brought to occupy Camp John Hay were all black and were left to fend for themselves by their command (I assume). They said, they were cruel and of course hated by the people.

There also is folklore where local women or children were caught or captured by creatures of the dark and were brought to the creatures’ holes in the ground and made to serve the dark/black beast until they escaped or were saved by a great or brave villager. It was uncanny that these cruel mythological creatures of the dark were all black. And the storytellers never used the word warrior to describe the champion nor did they ever explain what happened to these black US soldiers who were cruel and predatory. I wish this part of the Baguio Igorot’s history would truthfully surface.

So that on this “Ph-American War Day”, I wish my people could also celebrate and honor the sacrifices of the Ibaloi warriors who fought for our freedom from the US. This would include of course our Ibaloi great grand fathers, uncles, mothers and aunties whose stories has slowly been erased by the western colonizers’ introduction of their culture and religions which in the process discredit the igorot stories of great feats to defend their estancias, talon, usokhan, uma, and their community’s livelihood.

Great grand father Mateo supported the rebels of Aguinaldo and lost a young brother Juan when he was captured with other Ibaloymen carrying the gold contribution to the Katipunan leaders. And Karias lost 6 brothers and several nephews in the Tonglo massacre against the Spanish army. Great grand Uncle Juan Oraa, a revolutionary government congressman of Benguet, was captured after Paterno was captured in Tublay. There must be more of them from the many clansmen and cowboys of (Baguio and) Benguet who should be named and honored on this day. Raise the pride and Igorot’s identity, write history from the point of view of the Igorot’s defense of their ancestral domain, their culture, traditions and values as a community. Let us honor our ancestors’ memory truthfully. # nordis.net

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