Saturday, May 18, 2024

Peter Tanan: Igorot Singer

This is Peter Tanan, the singer behind some of the most iconic Cordillera songs like Lumawig, Gingined, Kabanbantayan, Ili Mi ay Kordilyera, Sabsabong, and many more. His songs enjoyed the height of their popularity in the 80s and 90s. Peter Tanan casette tapes were very much in demand back in the day. If you had a radio with a casette player, most likely you had one or two of Tanan's albums/recordings.

Today, decades later, his songs are still being played in heavy rotation in the Cordilleras. His songs have proven to be timeless.

Some people refer to him as the father of Kankana-ey music. It's hard to disagree. Tanan played a huge role in the popularization of Igorot music.

Tanan also sang songs in Tagalog and Iloko. He is from Tue, Tadian, Mountain Province.

Peter Tanan: Igorot singer.


Wild Song by Candy Gourlay: The Follow-Up to Bone Talk

Received this in the mail today. Published just last year, Wild Song is the follow-up by author Candy Gourlay to her award-winning book Bone Talk (2018).

It tells the coming-of-age story of Luki, a young Igorot girl who visits the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. Luki was a supporting character in Bone Talk. The events in Wild Song pick up from where Bone Talk left off. This should be interesting.



Friday, May 17, 2024

Mt. Tugew in Alang-Salacsac, Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya

One of the perks of climbing mountains is the storytelling that comes along with it. You get to interact with the locals and listen to their stories about how a particular mountain got its name, how it was used generations ago, who first lived there, who built the structures there, etc.

Mt. Tugew which is located in Alang Salacsac, Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya is no exception. This is a mountain with a rich story (or stories) to tell.

In local folklore, the mountain got its name from Tugew, a maiden of the I'wak tribe. A long time ago, Tugew was betrothed to a man named Molmog through a "kalon". Basically, a "kalon" is a marriage arranged by the couple's parents. Tugew didn't want to marry Molmog so she ran away and headed to the nearby mountains. Upon reaching the highest peak, she sat down, wept, and wished that she would rather turn into a rock than marry a man she doesn't love. And poof, her wish was granted.

Today, sitting on the summit of Mt. Tugew is a huge boulder of rock believed to be the ancient remains of the young maiden Tugew.

Mt. Tugew is not just rich with legends and myths. It also played a very important role in the region's history. Just below the summit of the mountain is an ancient trail used by the Spaniards centuries ago. This is a trail that connected the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Benguet, and Pangasinan. It was also used as an evacuation route during World War II. The mountain's summit and slopes have these medium to large craters believed to be the remains of bomb impacts during the great war.

If you're looking for a good day-hike, pack your bags and head to Mt. Tugew. The Kayapa Tourism Office re-opened the mountain for hikers last Saturday (March 2) through an invitational climb which we joined. Barangay Alang Salacsac is the jump-off point. The jump-off point is about an hour's drive from the Kayapa Municipal Hall. There are guides to assist you up the mountain. For more information, contact Kayapa Tourism.

Photo credit: Arlee Baludda.


How Did the Hangar Market in Baguio City Get Its Name?

A lot of people are curious as to how this section of the Baguio City Public Market got its name.

The answer is simpler than you'd think. In 1955, an aircraft hangar (yes, a literal hangar) was moved into the location to serve as a selling place for local vendors. The place was referred to as Hangar Market and the name stuck to this day.

Today, the market has stalls selling all sorts of goods from flowers to vegetables to ground coffee.

So yeah, it's not because "hangers" are sold here. Adding to the confusion is the fact that there's a lot of clothes and hangers being sold in the nearby stalls and shops.

Hangar Market in Baguio City.


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Igorots at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904

The participation - some would describe it as a forced participation - of Igorots at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 was a very important event in Cordillera history that many Igorots still don't know about.

In 1904, Igorots were among the hundreds of tribesmen from various indigenous groups in the Philippines that were brought to the St. Louis World's Fair, an international exposition that was held in the state of Missouri in the United States. Villages were built inside the exposition grounds to mimic the daily lives of the tribesmen from their home countries.

The Igorots were among the more popular exhibits at the "human zoo". To drum up interest, the Igorots were promoted and described as "primitive" and voracious "dog-eating savages". The ensuing media coverage of Igorots butchering and consuming dogs painted a picture that has lasted to this very day. Some of the Igorots at the fair died during their stay in America. It was while researching about these Igorots who perished that I stumbled upon the work of Janna Anonuevo Langholz. Janna, who describes herself as an "interdisciplinary artist" has and continues to do great work in bringing attention to the injustices that occurred in 1904.

I urge anyone interested in Igorot history and Philippine history in general to become acquainted with her work. Just Google her name. Her website will come up. I highly recommend her Instagram page as well. Not only is it rich with historical content and context, the comments sections are also alive with eye-opening conversations and healthy debates.

A book that I would highly recommend for further reading is The Lost Tribe of Coney Island (2014) by Claire Prentice. Unfortunately, Prentice's book is not available in Philippine bookstores. You have to source a copy online. Your best bet would be Amazon.

The exhibition brochure for the Philippine Exposition in 1904. Photo credit: Janna Anonuevo Langholz via Instagram.

This is a copper coin distributed as a souvenir either at the fair in 1904 or the one in 1909. Photo credit: Janna Anonuevo Langholz via Instagram.

The back of the coin. Photo credit: Janna Anonuevo Langholz via Instagram.

Seriously, this should be required reading in the Cordilleras. Every library in the region, public or private, should carry copies of this book.


Tallupak or Togwak

This was a very common practice years ago. Weddings and other community events often use cut banana stalks as plates. Nowadays, it's rare to see these being used. Plastic and paper plates are now the preferred option. And it's understandable since these are easier to procure and replenish.

So it's always nice to go to an event and see this old practice revived. It brings back childhood memories of lining up with your friends to receive your banana stalk plate that's overflowing with rice, pork, pansit, and dinardaraan.

We call this tallupak in Kankana-ey although there are variations of the term used. Some call it ubbak. Some call it tebwak. The Ifugaos call it either togwak or todlak.

What do you call this in your place?



Dagi: Ibaloy Traditional Backpack

This is the "dagi" (also sometimes pronounced as "chagi/chagee"). In the olden days, it was a very common transport backpack for the Ibaloys of Benguet. These were usually used for transporting agricultural goods like rice, fruits, and vegetables.

It has two shoulder straps. It has a third strap that goes over the forehead of the carrier. This head-strap is very similar to the head-strap in the "kayabang".

The bottom part of the pack has extended poles from the pack's rattan frame. This enables the carrier to sit down with ease and rest while keeping the pack upright.