By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
I was able to attend the celebration of the third Ibaloi day at the area between the children’s park and the orchidarium. It was an invitation extended earlier. The celebration of that day was based on city council Resolution 395, series of 2009 which declared February 23 starting 2010 as Ibaloi day. It was a result of the advocacy and lobby for the recognition and respect of indigenous peoples rights and the City’s recognition of the original settlers in the city – the Ibaloi.
February 23 is very significant to the Ibalois of Baguio City and to all indigenous peoples worldwide. During the American colonial period, the colonizers displaced, grabbed or expropriated the land of Mateo Carino known as Ypit and Lubas which is now known as Camp John Hay under Act 636. He brought a case against the colonialists in their legal system to claim back his property until it reached their Supreme Court.
His efforts were fruitful. After he died, the US Supreme Court on February 23, 1909, affirmed that Mateo Carino was indeed the owner of Ypit and Lubas by virtue of the legal concept of native title.
The landmark decision penned by Oliver Wendell Jones. The US Supreme Court ruled that “Whatever may have been the technical position of Spain, it does not follow that in the view of the United States, he had lost all rights and was a mere trespasser when the present government seized his lands. The argument to that effect seems to amount to a denial of native titles, throughout an important part of the island of Luzon.”
The decision concluded that “when as far back as testimony or memory goes, that land has been held by individuals under a claim of private ownership, it will be presumed to have been held in the same way from before the Spanish conquest, and never to have been public land.”
This landmark Cariño decision on native title, which took six years of proceedings in the US, established a legal doctrine that only nearly a century later became the foundation of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997.
The IPRA now recognizes “ancestral domain,” or ownership of land established through collective memories and custom law, and that for indigenous peoples, land ownership is not given by formal titles, but is claimed by use and inheritance since time immemorial.
However, IPRA applies a special provision for Baguio City itself, with the ironic result that the Cariño doctrine has never been implemented within the city boundaries where the doctrine was first invoked.
And, I believe that among the Ibalois of Baguio and Benguet, they still aspire for the realization of the spirit of the native title over their ancestral lands, despite the celebration this year as simply “more of cultural in nature”.
Ruby Giron, a descendant of Mateo Carino, shared that the celebration this year is “more of cultural in nature”. They featured the use of the bankilay, exhibited the kadaring dance and the horse riding shoe. She explained that the bankilay is a wood and bamboo stand where the offered pig is placed and where the owek, a pointed piece of wood used to stab the pig’s heart for the ritual.
The kadaring dance on the other hand is a dance to invite the spirts to join in the canao.
It is really educational and interesting to attend celebrations dominated by indigenous culture and practices. Aside from understanding their political issues, I try to learn and appreciate their culture. And I love their way of trying to have the young generations learn these practices. Again happy Ibaloi day. # nordis.net