Beat the Ibaloy gongs

>> Wednesday, November 16, 2016

March L. Fianza

BAGUIO CITY -- It’s far from over. A few days after the Ibaloys in a consensus chose their Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative to the city council, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan hit the process of selection saying it has excluded other IP groups such as the Kankanaeys and Kalanguyas and confined the voting and selection to the Ibaloy group.
I take Domogan’s worried stance as a compliment and the Ibaloys should be grateful to him for that reminder – that there is one last fence to hurdle. In his words, he wants all obstacles cleared before Roger Sinot begins to roost on his ancestral chair at City Hall. Thank you, Mayor Morris.
Anyway, the noise on the IPMR selection was expected as supporters were not surprised that the selection for a new member to the city council would be attacked on all sides. The method of selection was challenging for both the nominees and the electors as this was the first time that the IPMR process would be implemented.
The consensus on the election of the IPMR that proceeded last November 4, 2016 at the Ibaloy Heritage Garden at Burnham Park was facilitated by the NCIP Baguio office under Atty. Harriet N. Abyadang.
Six brave Ibaloys presented themselves as candidate-nominees namely; former Onjon ni Ivadoy president Jackson Chiday of Loakan, ex-barangay chairman Basilio Binay-an of Loakan, IP book author Vicky Macay also of Loakan, public school teacher Michael Alos of Camp 7, Happy Hallow elder Philip Canuto, ex-barangay chair of Pinsao and Baguio Council of Elders chair Roger D. Sinot.
Roger won the selection by a wide margin. He is a descendant of Piraso (one name) of the Kafagway central area (Baguio market to the Vallejo Hotel vicinity).
It was agreed in a consensus in the plenary-assembly that selection would be through secret balloting, if after a dialogue (Tongtongan) between the candidates, they fail to come up with a common endorsement to the city council of Baguio.
The selection guidelines was approved and signed by members of the assembly who belonged to the Ibaloy, Kankanaey and Kalanguya Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) who are residents in the city. No exclusion of groups was done, there were only rules to follow.
More than 300 registrants who were Ibaloy, Kankanaey and Kalanguya ICCs signed up and helped ratify the rules but only 195 voted. The rest stayed to observe the selection process, while the others in their good conscience left the voting area upon knowing that they were not qualified to vote.
When asked, some of the registrants who were also Ibaloys by blood confirmed that the guidelines were okay and they felt awkward and uncomfortable if they insisted on participating in the selection process when they knew that they are not Baguio residents.  
The same feeling was expressed by one Kalanguya-Kankanaey resident of Happy Hallow. He said his group understood the ratification of the guidelines and agreed that they cannot interfere with the affairs of the Ibaloy in the same manner that the Ibaloys cannot meddle with the selection of IPMRs in the Kalanguya and Kankanaey areas.
Incidentally, Cordillera Peoples Alliance vice chair Ms. Jill Carino, a descendant of Kafagway Headman Mateo Carino expressed thanks to the IP migrants in Baguio City for issuing a resolution during the Cordillera Elders conference held last August 29-30, 2016 that pushed and expressed support for the Ibaloys to sit as IPMR in the council, in recognition as the original inhabitants of Baguio.
Last week was the week of the controversial. Donald Trump won over Hillary Clinton, our Supreme Court Justices decided to allow the burial of former strongman President Marcos at the LNMB, then the “dulldog” Ibaloys in Baguio finally chose their IPMR – something that many thought as an impossible thing.
What is so controversial with Roger Sinot? It is not because he has been leading the fight for the rights of ancestral land owners to collect long overdue rental fees from the Asin hydro-electric plant. It is because he is the first IPMR and he has the legal and moral duty to fight for the rights of IPs in the city.
         Apart from looking for solutions to the Ibaloy ancestral lands problems, IPMR Sinot has to make the city recognize the Ibaloy culture that is becoming sidelined because of the presence of other IPs. That is tough task enough for an IPMR. But Roger Sinot is also tough and hard- headed occasionally, which is what the Ibaloys are sometimes.

The city council then should help the Ibaloys and other IPs put things in their proper perspective. For the longest time, it has been so misinforming and maybe even embarrassing that during city events, the dances being presented to guests and visitors are dances by other IP mountain tribes, not the Benguet or Ibaloy dance. Let the Ibaloy gongs resound!


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