Short story of Pinsao and its people

>> Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Roger Sinot

PINSAO PROPER, Baguio City -- The northern part of Baguio was occupied by a number of Ibaloy families of Sinot, Bilag, Dalisdis, Camdas, Alinos, Bugnay, Palguos, Kiong, Smith, Pistola, the Piraso subclans, among many others. They were not politically influential like the Carinos, but their animals of cows, horses and carabaos roamed around Guisad Valley, Irisan, Quezon Hill, Lucban towards La Trinidad.

In the early 1900s, these brothers and cousins had to give way to developments introduced by the Americans and the Philippine Government as well. They had to give up large portions of Guisad valley which is now the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). Other areas were given for government school buildings like Bonifacio Elementary School, Lucban Elementary School, Aurora Hill, and later Pinsao and Irisan Elementary Schools. They had even given away to American Schools such as Easter School and the Philippine Baptist Seminary. Some were declared government reservations and Pinsao Pilot Project became a residential resettlement area.

They befriended the early businessmen, some of whom were Chinese and some were lowlanders. They were the Tans of Benguet Lumber, the Flores of Guisad, Manzanillos, Fernandez of EPC (Eastern Philippine College) now Baguio Central University (BCU), and also the Americans. They were also a friend to local and national leaders of their time.

The means of livelihood of the early settlers were farming and cattle raising. After giving up their large areas to the government, they built their houses near their farms or kaingins, but they still had their cows and horses enclosed in common corral.

Aside from camote and coffee farms of the Sinot, Camdas, Osio, Dalisdis, and other Ibaloy families, they occupied the mountains located along the boundaries of Baguio and La Trinidad as graze land for their cattle, together with their relatives that lived in La Trinidad. These mountains were called "Atol" where you can view the City of Baguio, La Trinidad Valley, La Union and the China Sea. Beside Atol is a place that was later called "Tam-awan".

These old folks were not as wealthy as the other Ibalois, but they were respected in the community they lived in for being industrious and friendly. They were accommodating that they invited and entertained their guests and visitors during their native rituals such as kanyaos. They performed kanyaos when their native priest or Mambunong Dahay Paran thinks it necessary.

During the time of Ferdinand Marcos as the President, he declared Pinsao PIlot Project as a resettlement area and relocation site. Wesley Sinot, Walsey Camdas, Eugene Pucay, and other Ibaloys were signatories to that Presidential declaration. Then Governor Ben Palispis of Benguet who was a relative and a good friend to his fellow Ibaloys was given an area within the BPI reservation that he had it titled as a private property.

Wesley Sinot Sr., my father, had his lands surveyed together with his brothers and sisters in the year 1962 but had introduced his improvements along the Tacay road, Pinsao Proper long before World War II. He had their lands bulldozed and planted with fruit trees, aside from coffee and camote. He met an accident on December 07, 1967 on his way to Asin Hot Spring and died. I was seven when he passed away.

As I grew up, my mother Feliza took us to Canaos. Here is where cousins meet and our elders practice "Tonton,” a time for story telling by elders tracing their kins and ancestors. As a young Ibaloy, I was trained to listen and respect what our elders had to say. I was taught that every younger generation is merely a reflection of their elders. We, as young people practiced the morality that we have learned from the actions of our parents.

Being an Ibaloy is a pride. We were trained by our parents to be respectful at all times. We tend to fade or shy away when provoked by other people especially if they are our elders, officials of the government, or police officers. In kanyaos we were introduced to serve everyone. We were taught by our parents to be simple and be contented with what we have, to be thrifty but not when it comes to food.

We were taught that a guilty mind is a curse and it is a cause for the spirits of our ancestors to be angry. Wesley Sr. and Feliza, my parents always reminded us that what goes around comes around in truck loads. If one has done wrong to somebody, surely this will come back even more than what you have done.

As an heir of Wesley Sinot Sr. whose land claims extend to an area saturated by squatters, we'd rather stay calm on the matter of illegal settlers and put all under the hands of the government concerned. Now that the IPRA is here, Igorot claims are favorable to us, and that these land problems be solved by our government. May our great ancestors guide the NCIP in its work.

Happy trails to all Ibaloys of Baguio and Benguet. Looking forward to the February Ibaloy Festival!


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