Lagawe, Ifugao:   The Igorots, people of the mountains sandwiched by the Cagayan and Ilocos plains, are victims of misconceptions against their persons and culture even up to now.  But they are one lucky IPs according to Ifugao Congressman Teodoro Baguilat, Jr. 

The Congressman who chairs the House of Representatives’ Committee on Indigenous People was in this town last October 29 as guest of honor during the closing ceremony of the Indigenous People’s Month Celebration being spearheaded by the Regional Development Council (RDC) through its Committee on Indigenous People Concerns (CIPC).  The event, which incidentally was also the 14th Anniversary of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA), was attended by students, employees of government Regional Line Agencies, and government institutions of Ifugao. 

 

 Congressman Baguilat (right) was guest of honor during the closing program in Lagawe, Ifugao of the Cordillera Month celebration.  On his right is Engr. Sancho Buquing, NCIP-CAR Regional Director. 

“Many of us in Ifugao and in the Cordillera region may not feel so much the value of IPRA,” Baguilat said.   “We are lucky IPs because do not feel so much the discrimination of IPs as we are the majority in our territories,” he said. 

“Ngem no apan ka idiay Boracay, dagiti Atis ti estranghero uray no isuda ti sigud nga umili idiay (But if you go to Boracay, the Atis are the strangers even if they are the original people of the island),” Baguilat continued.  “The same is true with the Aetas in Central Luzon or the Mangyans in Mindoro  – masda-aw da pay nga adda gayam ti IP nga Congressman,” he said. 

Baguilat said that IPs are indeed the most marginalized sector in our society.  Their sorry state was the rationale in the formulation of IPRA and the organization of NCIP. 

In 1980, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in the Philippines (CBCP) was the first to declare a special day for Filipino IPs by making the second Sunday of October as Tribal Filipino Sunday.  At that time, many Filipino indigenous people were being displaced from their ancestral land to give way to so called development projects. 

Today the government, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 1906 declaring October as Indigenous Peoples Month, is observing the event in commemoration of IPRA.RDC had been observing IP Month since 2004 after its executive committee passed in August of that year RDC ExCom Resolution No. CAR-011 entitled Declaring the month of October of every year as the Regional Indigenous People’s Month in the Cordillera Administrative Region. 

The same resolution tasked National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to coordinate with the NCIP Board of Commissioners for the issuance of a Presidential Declaration of the month of October as a National Indigenous People’s Month. In October 5, 2009, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Presidential Proclamation 1906.