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I still choose to be an Ibaloi

FOURTEEN YEARS AGO or so, I was with a group of MAKNIBA (Maksil ni Ibadoi) elders and members being interviewed at DZWT

FIRST, THE USUAL: Pleasantries between the announcer interviewer and, the interviewees. Then, the Question:

“SO, I TAKE that you are all, or mostly: Ibalois (– while looking at an obviously half-Caucasoid member)? Sir here, is:”

“HALF-AMERICAN, APO. My mother is an Ibaloi from Baguio”. Said the member. The announcer went on:

“AND THE REST are..?” [P.A.U.S.E], and then came – one after the other, the replies, as he shifted gaze.. from one member to the other:

“ONE FOURTH CHINESE po, my father is half-half”; “I have Ilocano roots, sir.. my maternal grandfather was from Tagudin”; “I’m pure Ivadoi, but I was born and raised in Bilis, Burgos, La Union – so, my Ibaloi is not as fluent”; etcetera, But another sudden shift, and the announcer was looking at me:

“I GUESS EVEN Apo Morr is not ‘pure Ivadoi’? Is that right, sir?”

[I WAS READY for that question, but another member from Baguio City.. let me recall: her mother is pure Ilocana.. yes! that’s right.. and her father is also half-Ilocano, but the father-side half is Ivadoi; that’s why her ‘maiden’ family name was Carantes..]

SAID LADY ANSWERED – sort-of, for the rest of us.. including me: “we have mixtures of other lineages – both local and beyond.. like sir W.S.W (true initials) here.. but we always choose to identify ourselves as Ibalois, po!

THE LADY’S ANSWER like somewhat satisfied and ended the announcer’s line of inquiries, and he quipped: “Okay, ma’am I understand. So, we may now shift to the next question.. xxx”

* * * * * * * * * * *

THESE DAYS-AND a bit quite recent do you hear – ‘as emphatic’ – as those replies were.. once you ask someone about being an Ibaloi, and ‘other things’? Let’s look at some samples:

“YOU SAID YOU’RE from La Trinidad, and your family name is…”

‘CORDILLERAN, SIR. ACTUALLY, I’m “pure Ibaloi”.. but I’m struggling to speak that language. We were not trained to speak it.. only the old folks speak it at home.. xx’ And said

ANOTHER ONE: “My wife and I are ‘pure’ Ibalois, and we are ever happy to stay that way, and speak the language.. but our children, since after Elementary, they’ve been exposed to the languages at school and in the environment: English, Iluko, and Tagalog, especially.

“WE ALWAYS SPEAK to them in Nabaloi though, and they answer in any of those three languages. At times, they also answer in Nabaloi.. xx” And one still: a true ‘half-half’, that is:

HIS FATHER IS ‘pure’ Ilokano and his mother a ‘pure’ Ibaloi. Those who know him – or who will meet him can but agree that he is really that ‘half-half’; basically, both his Iluko and Nabaloi are flawless – even his looks, are of ‘both-sides’ versions. These and other related instances, I recall the story (true) of one of my former SLU co-teachers. Was her name at correct initials of: PSM? She narrated:

“DURING A RECENT visit to the States, I was invited by ‘fellow-Cordillerans’ to attend a party. The only requirement they told me was to ‘come in the attire of your own ethnic group..

“EH, YOU KNOW me – I was born and raised in Baguio.. so, I wore my own Benguet Samra and Devit.. and went to the Party, with the others. “ARRIVING THERE, WE were met with gaiety and pleasant surprises.. the Programme was well-run. Then,

“WE WERE ASKED to ‘come front and’ introduce ourselves – one by one, and also: ‘speak a sentence or two’ – as valid evidences. So, when it was my twin,

“I WENT AND bowed and said: ‘Shiyai tan shiman.. insas tahajo! (transl. “Here and there.. I’ve seen you!”)

“[THEY CLAPPED SO resoundingly.. the Audience, I mean.. then, I finished with]:

SI-KAK SI PSM. Adafoak chi Bagiw! (transl. “I am P.S.M. I came from Baguio!”), and they clapped all the more!”

“WHEN THE PARTY was over, those who really know me didn’t ask if I really have Ibaloi or Benguet lineage.. they were all: just smiles.”

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