From under this hat: Milestones

By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
www.nordis.net

My brothers, my children, nieces and nephews, – our family’s deepest sympathies and condolence to our cousins; – children and grandchildren of the late aunty Betty Angara Cariño, who suddenly passed away last Wednesday from a heart attack. Memories of our cowboy uncle Philip who instead of steers drove cars and his dearest wife, aunty Betty who was almost beside him most of the time, her bubbly and happy dispensation is something we will never forget and shall miss most.

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Happy dry run re-opening for the Cafe by the Ruins near the Rizal Park. With great expectations, we wonder how it looks like, how the new ambiance would feel and reminiscent of the traditional tastes and flavor the Cafe built its name on. Congratulations and best wishes forward to the partnership of the new generation with their elders’ dreams and partnerships.

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The Igorot bloodline does not necessarily make one an Igorot leader

Last 23 April, Monday, during the commemoration of Cordillera day in Baguio, some elders of the Ibaloys in Baguio and the elders of the migrant Igorot communities from the different Cordillera villages decided to seek audience with the Mayor of Baguio. For it bothered them very much that it has been two years and running, since the Cordillera Elders’ Assembly (CEA) passed the resolution that Baguio Igorots must now choose and install their IPMR, and that it is only right that the IPMR must be from the Ibaloys of Baguio. So they had chosen by the process they identified as closest to their customary practices.

The whole process of selection was facilitated and closely monitored by the responsible offices of the local National Commission on Indigenous Peoples or the NCIP for which they and some three hundred fifty Baguio Ibaloys, who were seen to it that they were certified heads of families, ancestral land claimants, certified by respected Ibaloy elders in the village clusters of documented Ibaloy claims. The majority of them were actively present and participated in the three or four days the whole task of selection was discussed, agreed on and done.

The NCIP offices – of the City, of staff members of the Benguet legal office who were assigned to investigate and certify if the process complied with the NCIP guidelines, and the Commission en banc; – authenticated and certified the selection process and results were done according to the processes closest to customary practices and by the provisions of the law, the IPRA. They and the local Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) office certified and endorsed the selected IPMR be seated. So far, the selected Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative for Baguio has not yet been allowed to seat in the local legislative body.

The elders who had the audience with the Baguio mayor laid down what they wanted to achieve in the meeting: that it was a meeting between the Mayor as the City elder as an indigenous person, and representative elders of the CEA assembly that passed the resolution for the immediate selection of the IPMR for Baguio and Ibaloy elders who participated in the whole legitimate process of the selection and certification of the IPMR. That their meeting is in the customary “tongtong” of most of the Igorot villages in the Cordilleras. Frank, transparent, no holds bar and on equal ground. The agenda was to resolve the issues preventing the seating of the IPMR so that he can already be of service to the collective population of Baguio IPs.

Our Mayor the indigenous person expressed that he believed the IPs of the city are entitled to representation in the City council and that the representative must be a native Ibaloy of Baguio, but aren’t they with eight (8) IPs in the present council already? He also shared that as mayor his hands are tired because a complaint has been filed opposing the selection, it alleges that it did not follow the “proper” guidelines, and that there is a pending injunction holding back the IPMR’s representation.

When asked what would he recommend, the mayor told the elders to petition the court to lift the injunction but he would prefer another, other than the one selected. “Anyone but him.” Just by his actions we understand that the mayor was not an Igorot leaders whose respect and recognition for the traditional values, customary practices of the tongtong and collective agreements or consensus is beyond reproach. He stuck to government processes that discriminates Igorots, Lumads, Moros and even Muslims.

It is now, as it has long been in the hands of the Indigenous Peoples residents of Baguio and the Ibaloys – especially those who participated and believed that they should be represented by their IPMR, and IP rights advocates of Baguio to defend and uphold the right to self-determination : their right to be represented in government by the representative of their choice.# nordis.net

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