Issue of July 9, 2017
Mt. Province

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Ibaloy identity featured in Cordillera studies conference
by Roland Rabang

Colonial subjugation and the eventual introduction of colonial political administration, western education and popular culture, have shaped the identity of the Ibaloy in Baguio and its environs.

The question as to the manner in which these factors have transformed what we know today as the “Ibaloy” would be answered by University of the Philippines Baguio scholars during the 2nd International Conference on Cordillera Studies from July 2 to 14 at the CAP-John Hay Trade and Cultural Center.

The panel “Ibaloy Identity” will have four paper presentations by Professor Emeritus Dr. June Prill-Brett, UPB alumnus A.J. John Carbonell, Dr. Charita Arcangel delos Reyes of the College of Social Sciences, and Dr. Jimmy B. Fong of the College of Arts and Communication.

Dr. Brett’s paper titled “Identity, place, names, changing landscapes and development issues among the Ibaloys of Baguio and peripheral areas from the Spanish to the American Colonial Period” attempts to explain the transformation of Ibaloy settlements when a Spanish punitive expedition led by Comandante Guillermo Galvey reached La Trinidad and there established an outpost that also exerted political governance among the people.

Since then, according to Dr. Brett, the people of Benguet, Baguio and the surrounding “rancherias” have felt changes in their socio-economic and political lives.

Carbonell’s paper “Narratives of a forgotten heritage: The old Ibaloy clans in Baguio politics (1901-1935)” provides a glimpse of the old Ibaloy clans called the baknang and their participation in the political administration of Baguio during the American period.

Carbonell argues that the baknangs’ initial predominance in the pre-American setup paved the way for their appointment in executive offices.”  He added “under the auspices of the American administrators, this structure of the government bred a culture of dependence on the colonial masters, thus destabilizing the traditional Ibaloy social strata.”

Dr. Delos Reyes’ “Educating Mokimok and Chainus:  The Ibaloys at the Bua School (1901-1940)” asserts that a western-type school curriculum was a form of “social engineering” that has “catapulted some Ibaloys to political office, civil service (as well as) public and private concerns.”

She said the introduction of formal education among the Ibaloys “became instrumental in the economic uplift and self-sufficiency on the Ibaloys, as well as the promotion of the Igorot women’s welfare.”

The term “Igorot” will then be examined by Dr. Fong in his paper “Ibaloy Identity Politics.”  He said the term “Igorot” is a “contested label considering its historical connotations and the fact that several ethno-linguistic groups in the Cordillera reject the scientifically discredited category being generically ascribed to them.”

He argues that “there is an ongoing Ibaloy movement driven by the choice to assert ethnic identity.” The performance of Ibaloy identity through “pop culture, (tourism) festivals, and academic activities” is regarded as “identity politics” that tends to “manifest a desire to represent a nuanced representation of the Ibaloy,” he said.

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