By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
Last week, on Easter Sunday, Vicky Mackay invited me and a friend (an IP advocate) to the opening of a first-of-a-kind photo-exhibit at the Loakan Elementary School. It was very impressive considering that it was a first for the community and an initial attempt at sharing the history and peopling of the old Loakan Ibaloi community.
It was born-out of the efforts of Roselle Bahni, her family and her relatives: Vicky, Aunty Ebek and all the rest I fail to name, to gather as much information and mementos from members (and) relatives in the Loakan district to initiate the documentation of their story as descendants of the original natives of Loakan. Names like Chakchakan, Karyas, Bugnay, Tofeng, Binayan, Batil, Dingbey, Sabot, etc, were listed. Old photographs some of it taken by my late mother and father were re-photographed and enlarged. A very humble beginning but so noble and so worth continuing and a must to complete. Every member of the Loakan community must contribute every bit of their knowledge of thier history and copies of their artifacts towards the building of their own museum or achives. This can make it very interesting and real for the children to discover their history. How the community was built, how they survived through the wars and so on. So they will know how they can help pave the foundations of their communities now as their ancestors did for them.
Congratulations to Tagde C. Okubo, named after Tagde a.k.a. Tagley Soley of Loakan, his great grandpa. He graduated from Nursing school yeaterday at the Easter College with several awards.
The balisong is a switchblade, its identity specially owned to the province of Batangas. It also just happens to be the surname of one of our honorables in the City Council who identifies himself with the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera. He has recently released information to media that he has requested the President to issue a proclamation to withdraw the portion of the Baguio Animal Industry (BAI) that is within the city to Baguio for government socialized housing projects.
Baguio City was practically created from land grabbed from the Igorots of the Baguio area then by the American colonial government. Despite a Supreme Court decision made in 1909, now better known as the Doctrine of Native Title; deciding against the government claims over the lands owned by the natives (particularly Mateo Cariño); the city and even the national government have yet to comply and execute the resolutions of this landmark decision. Meanwhile, the injustice against the natives of Baguio still continues and perpetuated gerrymandering politicians.
Proclamation 603 of then President Manuel L. Quezon is but part of the wider, more than 300 hectares Approved Plan done in 1920 named and owned by the igorot couple Mateo Cariño and Bayosa Ortega. Government offices, officers and conniving speculators have chipped into this property without permission and due compensation to its rightful owners. The area is now covered by ancestral land claims filed by the heirs of the rightful igorot owners under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act or RA 8371. And like what those American colonial politicians in government did in 1900s, and then the US commonwealth puppet politicans of the 1940s – making a law to take away native land – could it be that somebody, a presentday politician, is again trying to engineer another instrument on top the original anomalous instrument to the same effect?
One opinion maker once told me that the first city mayors used to manipulate the voting population by allowing their “flying voters” into the city to ‘squatt’ in government lands with a promise that their piece of the land will be awarded to them when he wins the election. She said that was how the squatters from the lowlands proliferrated. Now we have ‘squatters’ from the interior Cordillera… could it be that Cordillera politicians are doing the same thing in the City?
The least we can expect from our Igorot politicians in the City and the province is the respect for Indigenous peoples rights or human rights of their constituents. #