Calling myself Igorot

I am an Igorot. That means I’m mountain grown and more importantly, mountain born.

The use of the term Igorot can be as trivial as calling oneself Ilocano (from the lowlands) or Tagalog (riverside dwellers) when applicable. But what is wrong with calling myself Igorot? Why shouldn’t I?

History tells us that the Spaniards and Americans tried to subjugate the Igorots. If you can’t beat them, destroy their name, seemed to be the strongest weapon the colonizers used. So the Spaniards attached connotations like ugly, unkempt, barbaric, etc. to the word Igorot. Then the Americans devised a way where instead of calling them Igorots, they promoted the use of more localised (and more divisive) terms such as Kalinga, Ifugao and the like. So add the two (igorot=bad, kalinga=better name) and they win. Upon inspection, however, Kalinga and Apayao, are derrogatory terms compared to the neutral Igorot.

From Wikipedia:

It is said that in the Ibanag and Gaddang languages, Kalinga comes from the common noun “kalinga? which means “enemy?, “fighter?, or “headhunter?. The inhabitants of Cagayan and Isabela considered the Kalinga as enemies since they conducted headhunting attacks on Ibanag and Gaddang territories. As such, the name is considered a misnomer since it has no geographic or ethnic basis. Yet the term has become the official ethnic name accepted even by the natives themselves.

Kankanaey is a language but it can also mean a linguistic grouping, i.e., the people who use the language (Western Mountain Province and Northern Benguet, i.e., the old Lepanto province during the Spainish period). That means that the Kankanaey are composed several tribes if you insist on using that term. (tribe: an indigenous society bound together by family ties. That means Kankanaey is, and never was, a singular tribe).

Ibanag, just like Tagalog, means riverside dwellers, too.

Ifugao means from the hills/mountains. By denotation, Ifugao and Igorot mean the same thing. By usage, an Ifugao is one who came from Ifugao province. The term Igorot encompasses a larger area of residence.

Nowadays, there is nothing wrong with being called Igorot or Kalinga or Ilocano (a redundant term; i = ano) or Tagalog or Bisaya. So let us be who we are.


20 thoughts on “Calling myself Igorot

  1. Let it be a matter of preference. 🙂 I didn’t mean to take this issue further to the point that even Marky may get affected because of this. And I’m still a student in terms of the Igorot subject so I have so much to learn. :)However, Wikipedia seems to be a weak source of information since anybody can just post their idea or opinion there. And you’re right, all of these terms are given by the Spaniards, the Americans and even the Japanese during the occupations. But the local terms of Kankana-ey, Ifugao, Kalinga, etc. are more acceptable and more preferred than the general collective yet derogatory term for all the IPs in Cordillera which is Igorot. And maybe we can try to delineate the argument from ethnolinguistic groups to IPs, although both overlap most of the time .

    Being called Igorot is still an offensive term nowadays. Just like the Aetas, and the Eskimos. These people are still subjects of oppression in the lowlands. Take what Bugz said for example, “ayoko kay Marky kasi Igorot siya,” or even Lucy Torres, “ang pangit mo naman, siguro Igorot ang mga magulang mo.” These ethnocentricities of the lowlanders make the Igorots very vulnerable, especially in the case of Marky, now that he’s in entertainment (I prefer to call it the imperialist/1st world arena). Yes, as much as possible I avoid calling a Cordilleran as Igorot because it, until now, is an offensive and derogatory term. It’s just a matter of preference nga. But in reality, to the lowlands, Igorot is still a negative word where these people are still the subjects of oppression and isolation.

    Don’t get misunderstood, my point is that calling yourself an Igorot takes a lot of courage, bravery and pride. That’s what I want Marky to do, to take heart and be proud of his ethnic identity. Being an Igorot roaming in the lowland is tough, I shoud say, especially in dealing with the unaware, close-minded and mediocre minds. I’m proud to all of the Cordilleran people for until now they never forget their cultural identity, and that’s why I’m supporting Marky. To tell you honestly I’m only supporting Marky because he’s from Cordillera, or Igorot na rin sige. 🙂

    Thanks for the wonderful conversation. I learned a lot too, apart from getting to know you. 🙂 Thanks! And happy new year!

  2. Hello again! I just found my 1987 copy of the Tribal Forum by the late ECTF (as far as I know they’ve changed their name already). I would like to share this piece of the article. I hope the definition by the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) in their 1984 program to the word Igorot will help you (for it helped me too) in having a clearer definition of the term. (Disclaimer: I always respect everybody’s worldview). Here goes:

    Tribal Forum: But why Igorot?
    Joanna Carino: If we look at the etymology of the word “Igorot”, it is a term used during the pre-Spanish period and it is an old Tagalog term for people from the mountains”. During our second congress in 1985 there was a resolution seeking to build Kaigorotan unity and consciousness in order to streghten the people’s movement and assert our demands. But even internally within our organization there were many who objected to the term “igorot” because of its derogatory connotation. But after a long discussion we all agreed to pass the resolution and assert the dignified meaning of the term. (Culla, 1987)

    From the CPA’s worldview, the term Igorot is a socio-political term, which establishes regional unity among ethnic communities. I think from this perspective, the term is more acceptable.

  3. Thanks, Jeff.

    Yes, as of now, the term Igorot can either be derogatory (if used by a lowlander in such manner) or dignified (if used by and Igorot to show pride).

    Before the CPA made that world view, W.H. Scott already made that interesting conclusion (syempre kasi sa Sagada siya nakatira kaya ganon).

    Madami ring Igorot defenders (yung nagpro-promote ng dignified connotation). Although kahit sa Cordillera, the argument goes on. Kahit mga Igorot sa UP, di matapos-tapos ang arumentation nila tungkol jan. Ask the Anido people (Diliman).

    As for the Wikipedia definitions, yan lang kasi ang accessible na definitions. I know for a fact na tama ang definition ng Wikipedia sa ‘kalinga’ at ‘ibanag.’ The rest, di na kailangan lagyan ng source. Kasi yun naman talaga definition eh. Igorot kasi nagsulat. 🙂

    Go Marky!

    And Jeff, keep up the good work.

  4. Yup, tama yung definiton ng Ibanag at Kalinga sa Wikipedia. Sorry naman kung medyo na-offend kita about the Wikipedia, hindi ko kasi ito masyadong pinagkakatiwalaan. Anyway, this conversation has really been fruitful for me, sana sa iyo rin. 🙂 At least now nagbago na yung viewpoint ko about the term, mula kasi nung makausap ko yung ibang Cordilleran and si Kidlat Tahimik I’d decided not to use the term again. At least now medyo comfortable na ako with the term. Thanks! You too, keep up the good work. Keep on blogging especially articles about the Igorots. Maganda yung nadidessiminate natin sa mga tagapatag ang kaalamang IP. Member pala ako ng UP TAKDER, if you happen to have heard about the group.

    Mabuhay ang mga Igorot!
    Mabuhay ang Cordillera!
    Mabuhay ang mga makabayang Pilipino!

  5. UP Takder = UP Stand? Pareho lang di ba?

    I’m not so familiar with the Diliman orgs. Katulad ng nasa taas, Anido lang alam ko. And of course BIBAK/BIMAAK, which exists in most tertiary schools in Baguio.

  6. After a bit of Google-ing, I stumbled on this site. It made my day.

    I am an Igorot. Proud of it, too. I always stood by the mantra: “Forgive the uninformed” so as much as possible I refuse to take offense. The Lucy Torres incident, I ignored when others railed and ranted. The comments by Bugz Daigo I take in stride because, as I have said, he is one of “the many who do not know the first thing about being an Igorot but feels like they are an authority to speak of it.”

    We, the Igorots, have our identity. What about them who think they are much better? Who are they?

    I understand that the lowlanders’ perception of the Igorots are mainly to be blamed on what they learned. But I would have thought they would be smart enough – no, that they would have enough sense – to look more into the matter and RELEARN, before spouting their mouths off. I guess I still have too much faith in the intelligence of man to really expect that, huh?

    We are all part of a tribal community. I believe that. All of us sprung from a tribe. The Igorots simply do not hide that fact. We revel in it.

    If I meet those people who look down on us, I won’t get angry or lash out at them. I’d look them straight in the eye and ask them a question. “I am an Igorot. What are you?”

    Or….I’d simply say “I am an Igorot OVER and OVER until their ears bleed.”


    Thanks for blogging about this. 🙂

  7. I’m proud of Marky who is not ashamed that he is an Igorot. When I first heard the comments by other startruck who said,” Si Marky kakaiba kasi Igorot siya!” I feel angry. What do they think of Igorots? I’m glad Marky made it and I am praying that he will be the sole suvivor. My son whose nickname is Marky is also proud that he has an Igorot blood. Although He is half tagalog (CaviteCity) he will still insist that he is a full Igorot.

    Hurray for Marky Cielo!!!!

  8. For lowlanders who have no idea who igorots are would be surprised when they meet one. I am a full blooded igorota and proud to be one. I married a lowlander and i got the usual reaction when my in-laws came up to benguet for our wedding… funny but at least now they know. I am glad that an igorot made his way to this talent search and now have the chance to showcase what to be an igorot means… Marky, in your endeavor, though it may be unfair to put the burden in your shoulders, don’f forget that you represent the proud people of the mountains… us igorots… and we shall always be proud of you as we are proud of our igorot leaders, athletes, professionals and talents who have made their mark in this world.

    It is really nice to have serious discussions in this forum…. God bless us all!

  9. nakakatuwang makakita ng mga posts na ganito
    it is not meant to defend ourselves from people who misunderstand our culture but it is one of the many ways to let them know that we are Filipinos and that we exist.

    I’m proud to be a a cordilleran / igorot

  10. Guys, I have been living in Manila for almost 6 years and heard a lot of things about the word Igorot. Even when I was at my college years BUT all those years I stand up and say YES I am an Igorot and Im proud of it. Jokingly sometimes I would say I am an FBI ( Full Bloodied Igorot) hehehe. Funny isn’t it? but people who would look at you and will know that you’re proud of where you came from would respect you in the End. That shows them their ignorance which sometimes it is within our effort to explain and show them who and what we are.

  11. I am an Igorot

    I am an Igorot
    And I am proud to be one.
    I will talk about my culture with pride,
    I will wear my G-string,
    Sing our songs,
    Dance with the gongs,
    And speak our tongue…
    Not just to entertain,
    But to educate the ignorant.
    I will not be ashamed.

    I am an igorot
    Let me be treated as I deserve…
    With respect if I am good,
    With contempt if I am no good,
    Irrespective of the name I carry.

    Let the term, Igorot, remain.
    And the world will use it
    With the correct meaning attached to it.

    I am an Igorot!!!

  12. i am a cordilleran and i’m proud to be one… gawi-gawis ay ili di kaigorotan..

    “Igorots are not Filipinos” i think u guys heard bout this already.. and know what? sana nga totoo ito.. cause it really pains me everytime i hear these “ilocanos and tagalogs” saying.. “igorot? igorot k ba? e bakit maputi ka? bakit wala kang buntot?” and a lot of helluva whatsoever.. just like they’re implying that we igorots belong to the other planet (planet of VEnus pwede pa).. and kaya nga sometimes i really like that term “igorots are not Filipinos.. becoz, YES, we are Brown Americans”.. naha.. am sure my Fella Igorots would agree with that.. but then thats not my point.. that is just my way of uplifting myself pag my nagsasabi ng “nega connotations” bout us IGOROTS… so.. anyway, whEre am i??? yeah.. bout the thing “CALLING MYSELF IGOROT” … i do remember na everytime i met people who knew nothin GOOD but puro “nega” bout Igorots, i’m always there, defending who really are igorots, what about us-what about our culture, what’s about our traditions and lots of WHATABOUTS… and whew.. sometimes, i’d better cover my ears para di na marinig yong mga “painful interpretations” about us kahit di totoo.. and then one day, i came to realize that its better to let these people say what they wanna say and think what they wanna think coz its really pointless if i kept on telling that ‘we igorots are like these, we igorots are like that, we igorots are not of that what you are thinking’ and whatsoever.. let these “CLOSE-minded, mediocres’ uninformed” be the one to find out who really are IGOROTS>> MABIKA-BIKAS TAKU AM-IN!!!!

  13. i’m happy about these discussions although ang latest pla ay noong june na lang (kung kelan pa ung nawalan ako ng trabaho), anyway, kahit ako wala naman akong hilig sa filipino showbiz pero nung ibalita sa akin ng misis ko na may igorot (pagbigyan na natin kasi un lang talaga ang alam ng mga lowlanders) na may kasaling igorot sa starstruck napadalas nood ko. nang una kong makita (sa mga mata ako agad tumitingin at sa mga labi) “igorot nga!” sabi ko, “paano mo naman nasabi?” sabi ng katabi ko, “i should know coz i am 1!…look at my eyes and his”. sana nga magkaroon cya ng masmalalaking project pra makita ng bansa na i2 kung ano ang igorot. DONITAZ OF LEPANTO…pumayag ka na na pag may nagsabi na “igorots are not filipinos”…aba eh pag ang pagiging hindi filipino eh nangangahulugang masmaraming magagandang babae sa lahi natin (im not sure about your specific tribe, by the way i am kankana-ey) ok lang! he! he! he! this is a genetic challenge…maghanap cla ng matandang igo na panot. geneatically speaking most of igorots are blessed…pangkaraniwan na lang sa igorot ang muscular built and our features show beautiful oriental traits (nung una prng maniniwala na ako sa speculation ng 1ng researcher na ang lahi daw natin ay galing sa mga chinese seamen na di na nakauwi sa china at nagsiakyat sa highlands nagsipagasawa ng mga native daw…pero nakikita ko napapanot ang mga chinese, next i speculated that we are closer to the japanese coz most of them had thick eyebrows too, pero napapanot pa rin cla, then i saw the ainus, although they are hairy…the hair upon aging…ganoon din. ang closest na nakita ko na malapit sa atin pati hugis ng mga labi mongolians, nepalese, tibetans, at manchurians) pero ano’t ano pa man there is a touch of mystery sa igorot race bacause the features are unique to the ordinary faces of this country kahit sa mga fil-chinese at mga meztizas…hindi sila mga national geographic beautuies. currently i’m on research sa ethnic pasts lalo na sa warrior abilities ng mga igorot (i’m also interested with the moro’s past…payag ako na sila southern counter-part natin pagdating sa past histories)…hindi man ako game developer eh…nagbabaka-sakali lang naman at para ma-enhance ung story telling ability ko. you may find it non-sense pero di2 sa internet kc napancn ko na if you want to know about ethnic original martial arts (my other interest) lagi karugtong nya topic ang ancient philippines (though hindi pa “filipinas” panagalan nya noon kundi watak-watak lang cyang mga organisadong mga tribo), this present nation is very fund of anything foreign even martial arts but little is propagated about our own (at ang nakakahiya maspinalalago cya ng mga foreign students sa bansa nila who fell in love with it [the blade skills of navy seals are kali in origin], syempre thanks to the likes of mr. dan inosanto and other filipino masters) to the extent na pag gumawa ng mga fantasy tv series puro hugot sa mga western ideas! even in games nagtanong ako bakit di i-push-through ung paggawa ng action games na original filipino warriors ang characters…”wala pare baduy eh di tulad pag mga japanese at chinese inspired may ass-kicking moves” sagot sa akin ng isang game developing member. in a website i was browsing to see some images of real igorota beauties for character reference (aside from my relatives) i happen to pass a website claiming to contain pictures of igorotas in full costume daw & when i stepped-in 3ng mga tagalog lang na nagsipag-costume at nagpopo-pose. my point is this nation still carries its spanish time attributes…ung pagiging hindi scientific at walang pakialam sa historical past (un ang isang assignment ng mga espanol noon) kaya kahit ngayon kahit may member na ng UN na cordilleran ay pag sinabi mo kung ano ka ay nandoon pa rin ung “.!…igorot ka?!…hindi nga?…” . at kahit buluk-bulok na mga ngipin at may skin disease na kaharap at nagkakaasaran anlakas ng loob magtatatawa at “…ay igorot!”…i will not make my counter attacking words vivid kasi masmasasakit he!he!he!… kaya minsan di ko masisi mga kamaganak kong mga babae na ganun na lang magsipagsalita pabalik pag nalalait eh. aaaah i want to tell more pero masyado ng mahaba. again next time and i’m sorry…i never learned kankana-ey kasi lately lang akong naging aware sa ethnicity natin at sana…let us consider ourselves as 1 (cordilleran people) kc once may nakita akong ibaloi girl na nakikipagaway sa isang bisitang lowlander na nanlalait sa kanya at lumalamang na sya sa sagutan natuwa ako napasigaw ako ng “sige kadugo lecture-an mo!”…ang feedback sa akin “hoy iba ako sa iyo di kita kauri!”. and JEFF…did lucy torres actually said that?…baka naman linya nya lang sa taping o sa 1ng gag show? if yes…nakakahiya…biruin mo haciendera ka tapos pumayag ka na magmukhang maleducated dahil mukha niya makikita doon (the face is 1 of an actor’s signature) then magpo-propagate ka ng maling information! if the answer is no…deep inside pala she was not that educated. ayon pa pala 1ng galing sa spanish era na ugali…pagiging matapobre.

  14. Pingback: calling myself igorot | Cordillera

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