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Ay ay salidummay

I heard ten papers presented today at the International Cordillera Studies Conference. By the end of the day my eyes were glazed, and all the other cordianthronerds looked dazed and confused.

There were three highlights for me today:

1. Dean Raymond Rovillos paper on the Subanon of Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. The case study he presented on ancestral domain claims and mining issues provided useful points of comparison with similar situations in the Cordillera. I was struck by how an anti-mining Subanon leader was later undermined by the findings of a pro-mining organization led by a "pure" Subanon, who made the counterclaim that the former's claims to speak for the Subanon people were not valid because he was half-Ilokano and not pure Subanon. The NCIP, in response to this situation, withdrew their support for the ancestral domain claim of the Ilokano-Subanon, and supported instead the pro-mining pure Subanon. Interesting identity politics. Quote from RR: "There is no single definition of good life among indigenous peoples." True!

2. Roland Rabang's paper, Kailaan di Cordillera: Imaging a Nation through the Lens of Eduardo Masferre and Tommy Hafalla. To give a very simplistic summary, Roland interprets Masferre's photos as romanticizing and essentializing, while Tommy's are closer to the lived realities of the photographic subjects, the Igorots. Interestingly, two elders of the cordianthronerd tribe (both of whom love Tommy's work) came to Masferre's defense. The first elder pointed out that at the time Masferre was taking photos, the episcopal mission in Sagada prohibited the photography of the indigenous culture and stated that mission photographic equipment was to be used only to show modernity and development. In this regard, what Masferre was doing was actually rather subversive. The other elder also said that young people of the Cordillera today would not have any visual reference for the life of their ancestors if it were not for the photos of Masferre.

3. Michiyo Yoneno-Reyes presented a paper entitled "Myth of 'Tradition' in Salidummay Singing and Narratives in Northern Highland Villages". Her basic argument is that while people in urban centers assume that salidummay is a traditional indigenous song, it's origins and popularity are fairly recent and that it is rarely attached to rituals, as are other indigenous chants across the Cordillera. According to her informants in Abra, Kalinga, Sagada, and Bontoc, the salidummay type of song became popular in World War II, and was often sung by soldiers. Later on, it was the NPA that popularized it. Then it became a song that was sung in local programs, or at weddings. I enjoyed this paper because a whole posse of elderly women from Bontoc were sitting beside me, and they kept making protestations under their breath, negating her findings, and a few times they even burst into song, just loud enough for those of us sitting close to them to hear. And then they would cackle among themselves.

One thing that struck me about all the panels I attended today was the degree to which people in the audience engaged with the identity politics (sometimes highly theoretical) discussed by the panelists. Most of the people who stood up to comment not only introduced themselves by name and academic affiliation -- they also said whether they were "half-Ilokano, half-Visaya, but raised in Baguio," or "pure-blooded Ibaloi", or "half-Ilokano, half-Tingguian," or "Ifugao," "Igorot", or even "Cordilleran." Eenterestink... More tomorrow from this cordianthronerd.


The Nashman said…
ano yan, "here's my cv and here is my list of seminars attended" bago may i ask the question?
padma said…
farang ganun... if you wanna see it that way.

Or pwede ring, "disagree with me if you want but i'm indigenous and you're not and i speak for my people"

Or, "sorry i'm not an IP but..."
Fongakhan said…
Hmm.. Wonder why the Bontoc women were protesting? =)
padma said…
Fongakhan, I wish I could understand what they were saying, but I sensed that they begged to differ from the findings of the researcher. At one point they protested VERY loudly when she said that the salidummay was sung at wake!

That was one thing that I appreciate about this conference, the people being discussed were themselves joining the discussion. But I think this can be said for most of the Cordillera and not just for this conference, no? Thanks for dropping in! :)

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