I am an Igorot, a Filipino, an earthling. My ethnicity may have made me different, but so does yours and the others out there. Our disparities may be glaring at times, however, if we look through our heart, we will notice our commonality as human beings.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cordillera and Igorot Misconceptions

Why can't others get these things right about the Cordillera and the Igorots? I saw lots of websites, blogs and articles correcting these common misconceptions but it seems some people remain uninformed (or they just prefer to ignore the facts and to remain ignorant?)

First, let's clarify what Igorot means. Igorot is believed to have been originated from the Tagalog term i-gulod, meaning people from the hilltop/upland/mountain (i-n. pref. meaning from + gulod, Tagalog term for hilltop). It now evolved to refer to the people from the Cordillera and Caraballo mountain ranges of Northern Luzon. It is unthinkable how such neutral term evolved and gathered backward and inferior connotations along the way that some Cordillerans don't want to be identified or called Igorots.

Now, here are some of the misconceptions I often encountered and have to correct and explain again and again:
  1. Igorots have tails. I think this assumption is from the "most ignorant of the ignorants". When I was in college, somebody who learned about my ethnicity asked where my tail is. Instead of harboring self-pity, I felt relief to know that Igorots are not the "stupidiest" people at all. I heard some Igorots discriminating but it did not dropped down to such level of attributing any unusual or abnormal physical traits to a certain group of people. Its astonishing that some do really believe on the existence of people who have tails.
  2. Igorots are short, dark-skinned with curly hairs. There's nothing wrong being an Aeta, Agta or Ati - of being short, dark with curly hair at the same time but such description never fits generally any of the Igorot tribes. I meet some Kalingas and I-Bontocs who can be considered dark-skinned but they are tall and seldom got curly hair. The Kankanaeys maybe short but they are fair to light complexioned.
  3. Igorots still use casually their traditional g-string. Some old folks may use their wanes (g-string) from time to time but I don't think the younger generation will find it appealing to use such for daily wear. Aside from its high price, I find it harder to loop and strap the wanes right than donning a pair of jeans. Nowadays, wanes are used in cultural presentations.
  4. Baguio is Benguet and vice-versa. Correction, Baguio City is a chartered city located in the province of Benguet. Is that clear? If not, go get a map of the Philippines or of Northern Philippines and you will not miss to notice that Baguio is within Benguet.
  5. Strawberry and cut flowers are produced in Baguio City. Sorry, this is wrong. There maybe some flower gardens in Baguio but most cut flowers and strawberry are from La Trinidad, the capital town of Benguet. As for the so called "Baguio vegetables", they are actually from all over Benguet.
I hope that somehow, this post will help enlighten those who don't know much about the Cordillera region and its people. I will surely post more as soon as I sort them out.