By KATHLEEN T OKUBO
At the Ibaloi Day adivay (get together), I was introduced to Auntie Evelyn – whom I may have met in my childhood but could not remember, otherwise this would not feel like the first time I meet my late mother’s childhood friend. She agreed with me when I asked if she had met me before. According to what I remember of mama’s stories, she was one of her closest friends from elementary to high school graduation and during their days in agricultural and teacher’s college. I remember her from stories told in my childhood. I hope to see her again soon in a more amiable situation and not in a crowd where we were both obliged to greet and meet other people or when I have to rush back to work and to the next appointment.
Auntie Evelyn, as my mother said, was warm, more assertive and conversant than my mother. Auntie is already 81 years old and thinks she is on borrowed time but she looked much, much younger and more energetic than my 75 year old cousin. In that brief meeting, she told me she was trying to compile and put together stories that her grandparents and parents told her long, long ago. I believe she should put all those memories (good or bad) in writing especially that a section of the present fractured Ibaloi community here is trying to put together data of their history from the Ibaloi point of view as far back as possible. She and others doing the same shall collectively contribute a great deal to the understanding and evolution of the Ibaloi culture and not just putting memories of the old Baguio together or of other old communities into writing. I asked for one of her stories and she shared some of her notes. (see The Dai-sang – abandoned house on page 1)
In gatherings like this, Ibalois (or even of other tribes) get to share their jokes, anecdotes, and taunts between the different groups of the tribe. Tribesmates from other villages on the outskirts taunt the I-Kafagway (from Baguio central district area) of today as characteristically being exclusive because they say “sikaray e baknang”.
In the olden days, baknangs are expected to be able to spend more than the others, conduct themselves in a certain manner during gatherings, carry their clothing in a certain way, etc. But in the present where the city has become a melting pot of different peoples, these are not entirely true because of practicality. Furthermore, abhorred by today’s western lifestyles, they (baknangs) just tease each other about the practices of old. Yet in the traditional tayao in today’s setting, the Ibalois still respect and try hard to apply the traditional heirarchy of pairing and priority to dance (perform in) the tayao.
Though change is the only thing permanent in life, it cannot be used to justify the waning or the loss of good traditions and practices of a community. Instead change for the good of the community must be the lead factor to assert traditional knowledge of good community practices – of progressive (and not backward) ideas, of a healthy environment, of sustainable livelihood, of community education, of solidarity, of conservation and sharing common resources. The Ibaloi of today owes it to their ancestors for the blessings passed on to them and they must relearn the lessons of history, continue their language, their culture as a people and protect the ancestral domain for the next generations. Mahedsang e Ibadoy, et muan esadshak ja akew ni Ibadoy, badeg ja iyaman. Manbiag kitjon emin!
Announcement. Inbitado e ka kait shi sahey a Ibaloy Forum: “Is the Ibaloy endangered?”, niman a Marso 1, Thursday, shi Mt. Province Museum, Gov. Pack Road, 9am – 4pm. # nordis.net