Skip to main content

Should Igorots Assimilate?

In his lecture the other day, Dr. Bacdayan said that the senga anchors Igorot identity. He raised the question, "Should Igorots assimilate or not?" His answer to this was: "The Igorot should not aim for assimilation."

Instead, he said, Igorots -- and I think this goes for all people who carry an identity other than those condoned by dominant cultures -- should aim for integration and participate in the nation on their own terms.

The interaction during the open forum was as interesting as the lecture itself.

An officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples was present. She too was an Igorot from Sagada. She said it made her uneasy when Igorots are described as "animists" and "ancestor worshippers." She took issue with Dr. Bacdayan's use of these terms. In relation to her comments, one student, also an Igorot asked about the conflict between the Anglican religion in Sagada and the continued performance of rituals. In turn, Eric de Guia, a.k.a. Kidlat Tahimik, observed that we tend to always look for conflict in things that may not really be opposed to each other in essence. Dr. Bacdayan then asked Kidlat whether he saw any problems between Western influences and indigenous traditions, to which the filmmaker replied that as a romantic artist, what he sees is a coming together of these things. Inclusiveness. And then to round things of nicely, Dr. Julie Cabato, an Ibaloy and one of the pillars of the Baguio community addressed herself to the NCIP officer. Dr. Cabato said that she is a Roman Catholic but that she also still religiously adheres to Ibaloy ritual when occasion calls for it. She said as Catholics they never had a problem with it, and their priests never had a problem with it. "So," she addressed the NCIP officer in a kindly tone, "be at ease. Just be at ease with it."

Several questions followed about culture and identity -- many of them from Cordillerans young and old. The last question was from a student of anthropology who asked a typically hyfalutin and convoluted question about whether strengthened cultures were a threat to national identity.

Dr. Bacdayan paused and said with classic Sagada humor, "It's a good question. But could you repeat that please?"

Everyone in the room laughed. The student good-naturedly obliged.

Dr. Bacdayan pointed out that everywhere now people are realizing that there is strength in diversity. His conclusion was simple and straight to the point. "I just can't imagine us not being ourselves, becoming lowlanders, shall we say."

This reminded me of that moment in Benedict Anderson's lecture in UP in January 2011 when, after being asked the umpteenth question about identity he said, "When people feel they're missing soul here," he pointed to his heart. "They think they can fill it with identity."

Dr. Bacdayan spoke about his own culture and Benedict Anderson about nationalisms. But they had the same message: Be true to your soul.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Lola of Maipon

It's all too easy to fall asleep under the blanket of everyday life and to smother dreams with the mundane things I surround myself with. But once in a while, along comes a sparkling vision that jolts me out of my daily sleep and reminds me of the existence of convictions and worlds so different from my own. "Our beloved LOLA of Guinubatan, Maipon, Albay is the last true messenger of God. So, let us follow her holy teachings so that we will gain TRUE SALVATION without sufferings and without death." In another story I, the intrepid heroine, the adventurer seduced by mysteries, the pilgrim in search of truth, would follow them back to Guinubatan from Session Road, thirsting to see and hear their Lola for myself. However, it's all too easy -- much safer! -- to fall back asleep under the blanket of everyday life, and to smother dreams with the mundane things I surround myself with. Then along comes 9 a.m., and really, it's time to down the dregs of coffee at the bott

Cordillera Folktales and Story-telling

It was cold and wet outside on the day of the launching of The Golden Arrow of Mt. Makilkilang and other Cordillera Folktales . But inside Mt. Cloud Bookshop we were warmed by stories read and performed by the Aanak di Kabiligan community theater group. Storytelling on a stormy afternoon. Paco Paco. A Benguet story from the book, published by the Cordillera Green Network. Aanak di Kabiligan means children of the mountains. The theater group was born out of the Cordillera Green Network's eleven years of conducting workshops in which children transform their grandparents' stories into theater productions. Here they perform the title story of the Golden Arrow of Mt. Makilkilang and Other Cordillera Folktales.

Birds of Baguio and Benguet

The Little Boss and I went to see the Birds of Baguio and Benguet Photo Exhibit at the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary . I carried her so she could see them up close and she pointed to each and every photo demanding, "What's that? What about that? What about this one?" I dutifully read out the name of every single bird featured in the exhibit: Scale-feathered Malkoha, Luzon Sunbird, Citrine Canary Flycatcher, and so on.We discussed the colors of their feathers and the shapes of their beaks. Some of the birds were already familiar to her. The crow and the shrike are frequent visitors in our garden. Shrike in the hands of the Artist-in-Residence, with the Little Boss' first hesitant touch. Taken October 2013. Once a young shrike in flight crashed into our picture window and lay on the ground, stunned. The Little Boss and the Artist-in-Residence held it lovingly in their hands and as soon as it pushed against their palms they gently released it. That was The Littl