An open letter to all Igorots, Re: I AM A PROUD IGOROT
Thank you Congressman Dalog, Congressman of Mt. Province for your Official Reaction to the content of the DEPED MODULE: It is not the first racist comment; neither will it be the last! These modules are derogatory not only to Igorots, but of Agta, of all indigenous peoples, the groups that are disadvantaged and marginalized. The conflict is our own identity.
We are not who they want us to be! We are Igorots and this is what we are:
The Igorot has these marks: Beauty, Breed, Brains and Bravery (4 B’s).
THE IGOROT POSSESSES BEAUTY: I recall an incident as a young student of yesteryears in Saint Louis University, Baguio City. A book entitled Mother America written by a famous Filipino Satesman, ( I wouldn’t mention his name) stated that “Igorots are not Filipinos”. This rhetoric enraged our dashingly good-looking Congressman Alfredo Lam-en, of the old Mt. Province, and us, the young BIBAK STUDENTS. A Torch Rally was held at Malcolm Square to challenge the statement. Like the gallant, brave, virile and handsome Highland Male, he confronted Mr. Statesman for not recognizing our Igorotness as Filipinos. These are the famous or infamous lines of the Great Lam-en:
“The only difference between Mr. Statesman and myself is that, whereas, Mr. Statesman wears his NECKTIE ABOVE, I WEAR MINE BELOW.” The necktie below was his Igorot G-string. He continued, “WHO IS THE BETTER SPECIMEN OF A FILIPINO? MR. STATESMAN OR I?” TO WHICH WE CHORUSED, “YOU!”
This Filipino Statesman’s rhetoric either forgot or ignored a Great American General, Arthur MacArthur who remarked of the unflinching courage of the Igorot Soldier in World War 2.
General MacArthur’s Tribute to the Igorot, February 22, 1942.
THE IGOROT IS BRAVE: Recounting the story of the battle, at which a position was held by a single Igorot Company against the 20th Japanese Infantry to an assembly of officers; MacArthur conveyed,
“Many desperate acts of courage and heroism have fallen under my observation on many fields of battle in many parts of the world. I have seen last-ditch stands and innumerable acts of personal heroism that defy description, but for sheer breathtaking and heart-stopping desperation, I have never known the equal of those Igorots.”
“Gentlemen, when you tell that story, stand in tribute to these gallant Igorots.”
When the attack was over, the remnants of the tanks and the Igorots were still there but the 20th Japanese Infantry was annihilated! The infantry soldiers were all Igorots, eager to even score for their lost tribesmen in foxholes, lost for defending the Philippines!
THE IGOROT HAS BRAINS. We are Achievers. Please refer to Igorot Topnotchers. It is one-kilometer-long list! Speaking at national and international conferences in this country, I had to bear these remarks, “Talaga bang Igorota ka?” Well, what good can come forth from Igorot land? Fortunately, God blessed us.
Do not look down on Igorots. Look up to Igorots. They live in the mountains. Not in the valleys!
THE IGOROT HAS BREED. Sisters and Brothers of the Better World, befriend an Igorot and you have a friend for life, because they are authentic people!
Note: The term “Igorot” as refered here means all provinces of Cordillera except Abra.
GLORIA D. BAGUINGAN, PhD
Visiting Professor, NVSU-Bayombong Campus