Ibaloi voice

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By Alah Soledad Sungduan

Stand Up for Life

Thursday, February 20, 2014

THEY are silent no more. They want their voice to be heard.

Onjon Ni Ivadoy Association, Inc. President Jackson Chiday said the Ibaloi tribe, known as the first settler of Kafagway (the old name of Baguio) has risen. They are now united and looking for their identity in this highly urbanized city.

This observation was seen as an impact of the 1st celebration of the Ibaloi Festival, a whole month activity which started on February 2 and will last on February 23, the celebration of Ibaloi Day in honor of Ibaloi leader Mateo Cariño.


"This year we see the rise of the Ibaloi. This time they would like to join. They are looking for their identity," Chiday said.

Chiday could still vividly recall how he got teary eyed upon seeing a big number of attendees in the Ibaloi Festival opening parade at session road which for him means unity among them, a thing that their group Onjon (union) Ni Ivadoy has been hoping for. This was attended by the local Ibalois including those based from countries all over the world.

"Napalua ak maur-urnosen ti ibaloi (I got teary eyed. The Ibalois are now united)," Chiday said.

The Ibaloi Festival aims to sustain the unity among the tribe and highlight what interest the tribe most showcasing their cultural heritage at the Ibaloi Heritage Garden at Burnham Park where they can also learn the popular Benguet dance tayaw and play the indigenous musical instruments.

Proud Ibaloi Noel Alos said the Ibaloi festival is very significant as it serves as a venue where they can all gather together and develop a stronger bonding. He also said that they don’t need to wait for a cañao just to be together when there is a festival and an Ibaloi Heritage Garden where they can all go.

"This is very good. It strengthens our bonding," Alos said.

Onjon Ni Ivadoy Association also feels that now is the time for all Ibalois to be organized and come out in the open.

"We'll show that we exist as ibalois. In this very highly urbanized city we are now a minority because we live at the outskirts. We want to let the people know that we exist in our cultural heritage," Chiday said.

Chiday also added that they don’t like to be a minority anymore in the land where their ancestors were the first inhabitant. To name one is the city’s last township president Caburon Sungduan who was displaced and moved to Tuba, Benguet because of the development implemented then by the Americans in the city.

The opening of the Ibaloi Festival was attended by more than 2,000 and it is seen to reach the 6,000 number on the 5th year celebration of Ibaloi Day on February 23.

Today, Onjon intends to add more development in the heritage garden by creating a monumental sculpture for Ibaloi hero Mateo Cariño.

The other officers of Onjon Ni Ivadoy Association, Inc. are Vice President Leopoldo Lamsis, Secretary Erlinda Tuquero, Treasurer Eroll Tagle, Auditors Lolita Demot and Steve Cating, PROs Mark Tidang and Jimmy Fong, and Business Managers Victor Cosalan, Pilando Menzi, and Norberto Antonio. Membership Managers Vicky Macay, Leo Camilo, and Chairman of Advisers Attorney Moises Cating complete the set officers this year.

Indeed, it is high time for the Ibalois to be organized and be united in protecting their own culture for the next generations to come. Let your voice be heard. Happy Ibaloi Day!

For comments and topic suggestions please email alahsungduan@gmail.com

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 21, 2014.


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