Sunday, February 28, 2016

4,000 IPs join 7th Ibaloi Day

A total of 4000 Ibaloy representatives from the 13 municipalities of Benguet and Onjon ni Ibadoy Hong Kong attended the festivities.

The theme of the 7th Ibaloy Day “Diteng tan Ulnos” or Peace and Order, was aimed to unite all the Ibaloy clans. The solibaos, kalsas or gongs and the tiktik were brought out and played to hark all Ibalois to gather, pray and dance in solidarity. February 23 was a historic day not only for the Ibaloys but for Indigenous Peoples around the World.

Before the Americans and Spaniards came, the city was already discovered and settled in by the Ibalois. Baguio was originally ranchlands owned by the a great number of Ibaloi clans including the Cariños, Carantes, Molintas, Suellos, Tagleys, Pirasos, Pucays and their extended family systems.

Many of these native Ibaloi clans were stripped of their ancestral lands through American colonial legislation, such as the Philippine Bill of 1902, the Land Registration Act of 1903, Baguio Town Site Reservation in 1907, and the Baguio City Charter itself in 1909.

Fortunately, Mateo Cariño decided to bring his claim to court, concentrating on the pasturelands, then called Ypit and Lubas, which were earlier converted by the US colonial government into the facility now known as Camp John Hay.

In his explanation how the Ibaloy Day came to be, Councilor Poppo Cosalan said that Cariño lost the case in the Philippine court. He appealed to the US Supreme court.

“On February 23, 1909, the US Supreme Court affirmed that Mateo Cariño was indeed the owner of Ypit and Lubas, by virtue of the legal concept of "Native Title," said Cosalan. 

Mateo Cariño, however, did not live to claim his victory, having died on June 6, 1908, a year before the final decision of the US Supreme Court. However, he left behind the legacy of the decision on Native Title which has now become part of the laws of the land and even used as legal document in international laws.

Cosalan said “it was during the Baguio Centennial Conference held last March 2009 at the University of the Philippines in Baguio that a resolution was passed that a commemoration of sorts must be done for the Ibalois on the 100th year of the city.” 

“With this prodding, the Baguio City Council decided to declare February 23 as the Ibaloi Day’, said Cosalan.
Members of the Ibaloi clans welcomed the declaration and for the 7th time since the resolution was approved in 2009, the Ibalois heed the call “Calajo” which actually means “Come over” and gathered for one festive day for a solidarity celebration. 

They brought out their tapey (rice wine), dukto (sweet potato) and caught and butchered black pigs and danced the tayaw.

NOTE: To witness the next indigenous cultural activity in the City or in the Cordillera, contact this writer.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Sta. Fe Ridge - A walk in the clouds

Benguet is fast becoming the hiking capital of the Philippines and another trekking destination is officially added to its attractions.

Just a 35-minute drive and a 2-hour hike from the City of Baguio await this awe-inspiring grassland ready for great adventures. Now being promoted as Mt. Ulap, the Sta. Fe Ridge in Ampucao, Itogon has been a favorite hiking destination to those who know the place. The municipality of Itogon and Barangay Ampucao officially launched Mt. Ulap adventure last Saturday, October 31.

Reaching Mt. Ulap will take you about 2 to 3 hours trek entering at the Tutumbek woodlands and pass through the vast grasslands of the entire Ridge.

Like the more popular Mt. Pulag, in Kabayan, the Sta. Fe Ridge features various characteristics; it has 3 peaks that exhibit diverse landscapes and distinctive rock formations that are great photography subjects. The whole mountain showcases a post-card-perfect scenery.

All of the three peaks offer 360-degree vantage points that show the surrounding landscapes of Pangasinan, Philex Mines, San Roque Dam, Mount Santo Tomas, Baguio City and as far as Mt. Pulag. The nearest is the Ambanao-Paoay twin peaks. Another 20 to 30-minute hike, you will reach Gungal featuring several rock formations that are a favorite outdoor studio of hikers. Another 30 minutes, you get to the highest peak, Mt. Ulap.

Several dead trees still standing in the fields added beauty and contrast to the green sceneries. With the freely growing grasses on the vast expanse of the ridge, it is serving as a pastureland for the locals so cows are commonly seen around the grasslands, especially in Paoay where they have a watering hole.

The name Mt. Ulap was derived from the original foundation stone found on the highest peak. The foundation stone was dated February 1, 1939 and inscribed with the word Ulap and a name Lagman. According to Barangay Secretary Maia Nalibsan, “it is believed that Lagman was an engineer assigned to survey the area.”

No other explanation why Ulap was inscribed in the foundation stone but it is a fitting name according to Nalibsan since the ridge is frequently covered with clouds. Ulap is the Filipino word for cloud. It could be therefore translated into Mt. Cloud. (There's another Mt. Cloud in Baguio, which is another perfect travel destination for book lovers.) 

It maybe is a good day-hike destination but this is not an easy trail particularly the route coming up from Sta. Fe. It is comparable to Akiki trail in Mt. Pulag that is not easy to traverse going down. Several hikers had to be rescued during the launching trek due to the extreme condition of the slippery trail. It is slippery due to loose gravels and pine needles. Many of the hikers recommend this to be the starting point and exit through Ampucao-Tutumbek trail. It maybe is a steep climb but a short one. It will take an average hiker an hour to get to Mt. Ulap. 

Recently implemented by the Barangay is a registration fee of P100.00 per person. Students aged 13 to 17 will only pay P20.00 and 12 years old and below are free of charge. Hikers are required to register at the Ampucao Barangay Hall for instructions and request for a guide. Guide’s fee is P400.00 for a maximum of ten persons. 

Barangay Ampucao has established its own search and rescue team to cater to trekkers in emergencies cases.