Monday, February 06, 2006


The city is markedly an American mountain town. Session Road is not of Filipino design but more of the main road of a sleepy American mining town.

Which Baguio, in its history really is. Why else would the Americans carve out a city so far out of the civilized comforts of its lowland territories? For what else but for the mines in the Cordillera and Baguio was its center of trade and commerce. Baguio served as the entry point towards the mines in Itogon and Mankayan, among others where one of the biggest Philippine gold mines are located. It is the center of development aggression and internal displacement of the national minorities of the Cordillera. It is the center of Christian chauvinism against the proud tribes of the mountains who stood their ground against colonialism, though they succumbed to imperialism as the guns of the White Man was just too great.

On my way to the public market I road a cab and wondered about the parked we passed by. My companion said it was called the People's Park. But the cab driver entered the conversation and told us it was more aptly called the Igorot Park. I then noticed that he looked like someone from the tribes - an Igorot perhaps. He was a burly dark man with long hair but had slightly chinky eyes, resembling the features of American Indians or indigenous people's in Latin America. Of course this is not to stereotype the minorities but what he said next struck me as a tourist and as an activist. The national minorities up to now dream of their ancestral lands forcefully taken from them by people whose interests are not for their welfare but to exploit the resources they have kept protected for the last hundreds of years.

And Baguio is one of those lands, as more than half of the entire land area is part of the claims of the Ibaloi tribe as belonging to their sacred ancestral domain. Yet despite laws such as the IPRA of 1997 safeguarding ancestral lands and domains of IPs, their hopes of these will forever remain pipedreams for their people.

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