Thursday, December 19, 2019

Benguet Congressman Nestor Fongwan Has Passed Away. He Was 68 Years Old.

Nestor Bagtang Fongwan Sr., a long-time fixture in Benguet politics has passed away on Wednesday night (December 18). He was 68 years old. Cause of death hasn't been divulged but there are reports saying it was due to an illness. He is survived by his wife Priscilla and their five children: Marie Rose, Nestor Jr., Marilyn, Maria Theresa, and Marson. His remains will be brought home to Puguis, La Trinidad. A wake that is open for the public is also reportedly scheduled to be held at the Provincial Capitol.

Prior to dipping his feet on the local political scene, Fongwan worked at the Benguet Provincial Auditor's Office. In 1988, he ran and won as a councilor in La Trinidad. He went on to serve as vice-mayor, mayor, governor, then congressman. He was known among his friends, colleagues, and supporters as the "Action Man", a moniker that stuck with him through the years.

At the time of his passing, Fongwan was serving as vice-chair in three committees in Congress: Agrarian Reform, Natural Resources, and Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples. He was the principal author in twenty-one (21) House measures and co-author in thirteen (13) House measures.


Here's what the "Rules of the House of Representatives" say about the process of filling up a vacancy in Congress that was opened due to a member's untimely death:

"In case a Member dies, resigns, is permanently incapacitated or lawfully barred from performing the duties of a Member, or is lawfully removed from office, vacancies may be filled as follows: (a) for vacancies in the representation of legislative districts, special elections may be called to fill the vacancies; and (b) for vacancies in the representation of party-lists, party-list representatives may be chosen to fill the vacancies in the manner provided by law. A Member elected or designated to fill a vacancy shall serve only for the duration of the unexpired term."

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Concept of “Inayan” Among the Igorots

If you’ve lived in proximity with Igorots for a considerable amount of time, I’m sure you’ve heard them use the word “inayan” a good number of times. After all, “inayan” is one of the most used words in a Kankana-ey speaker’s vocabulary. I’m writing this article at around 10:00 in the evening. Looking back to the day that just passed, I can easily recall saying “inayan” at least three times. That’s for this day alone.

My alarm clock didn’t sound off at 5:30 am so I ended up waking up at 7:30 am which was two hours late. I exclaimed “ay inayan” as I forced myself out of bed. There was a long line at the government office where I went to process an ID. That got another “ay inayan” comment from me. Standing beside a pedestrian lane in Session Road, I said “inayan” as a few hard-headed pedestrians crossed the street with the red light still on.

I think I’ve made my point. We Igorots use the word “inayan” all the time. But what exactly is it? What does it mean? Does it merit a deeper understanding? Should you even care?

Defining the word can be quite tricky. There are at least two definitions based on how the word is used. The first one is it’s usage as an expression. But if it’s used as an expression, the word “ay” comes before the word “inayan”. An Igorot would say “ay inayan” to express a wide range of emotions like frustration, disappointment, and disgust. These feelings of frustration, disappointment, and disgust are either directed toward yourself or toward another person. The three instances of usage I’ve mentioned earlier are good examples of this first definition.

The expression “ay inayan” has close cousins in the Ilocano and Tagalog languages. They are not exactly the same but they are pointing at the same direction or the same meaning. The best I can come up with are the following expressions:

Ano ba yan.” (Tagalog)
Anya metten.” Or “Anya met.” (Ilocano)

Like when you see people crossing the street with the red light still on, you say to yourself “Ay inayan.” You say “Ano ba yan” or “Anya metten” if you’re a lowlander. In other words, “ay inayan” is often an expression of moral criticism. In using it, you are dishing out a hammer of moral judgement.

Comedic versions of the expression have also entered the local lexicon in recent times. A perfect example is the supposedly funny expression “ay inayan ito” as popularized by the animated web video series Lampitok. The protagonist in the videos uses the expression on every chance he gets. This series is the brainchild of a guy who is – from what I’ve heard – from the town of Buguias in Benguet. As we all know, Buguias is Kankana-ey country.

The second definition of the word “inayan” is its role as a value system within Igorot families and communities. I feel hesitant to use the term “value system” here but it’s what I can come up with, for now. Anyway, in a value system, there should be a way for people to separate the good deeds from the bad deeds. Within Igorot communities, this is where the “inayan” concept enters the picture. “Inayan” is basically a blanket term that refers to all deeds that are considered bad, evil, taboo, and unethical.

Adi ka men-ak-akew tay inayan.
Don’t steal because it’s bad. [English translation]

Adi yo popoowan nan bilig ta inayan ken Kabunian.
Stop burning mountains lest you receive the wrath of god (Kabunian). [English translation]

Inayan di bumalbala ay umey men-ubla no madama nan begnas.
It’s taboo to go and work in the fields during a “begnas”. [English translation]

A begnas is a village ritual within Igorot communities that is considered sacred. Think of it as a thanksgiving ritual wherein the Igorots give thanks to the gods and request for luck and better harvests.

Photo by Daniel Ted C. Feliciano

Deeds that are outside the borders of the “inayan” blanket are generally acceptable behaviour. Of course, there will be exceptions depending on the specifics of the deed and the circumstances. And let’s not forget to take into account the fact that all value systems change and evolve. The “inayan” value system isn’t exempt from these changes. Deeds that are considered “inayan” a couple of decades ago may be acceptable behavior today.

From an early age, Igorot kids are taught what’s good or bad through the “inayan” value system. Grandparents, parents, and older siblings serve as moral teachers to the young ones. In the village or community as a whole, the elders serve this role. They decide on what constitutes acceptable behavior and what’s not.

But again, things are changing. This value system is going through modifications not only in the ways bad is differentiated from good but in the ways these values are passed down to the younger generation. We are already witnesses to the breakdown of Igorot communities as village-centered. We are now more family-centered than village-centered. Proof to this is the consistent disappearance of “dap-ays” and the decreasing observance of village-based rituals and practices.

Monday, December 2, 2019

George R.R. Martin On His Development As A Writer

George R.R. Martin is without question among the most well-known writers of this generation. Even before the adaptation of his books into an uber popular television series by HBO, Martin occupied a special spot in the hearts of millions of bibliophiles. I am among those who look up to the man not just in the context of a reader but as an aspiring writer as well.

As with any aspiring writer who looks up to a writing giant, I’ve always been curious as to how Martin developed as a writer. What books did he read as a child? What made him decide to write stories under the banners of science fiction, fantasy, and horror? Why didn’t he take the routes of spy thrillers or historical fiction?

I found bits of answers to these questions in his Introduction for the anthology book Warriors 3. Published in 2010, Warriors 3 is a collection of stories by seven bestselling authors (Diana Gabaldon, Robin Hobb, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn, David Morrell, James Rollins, and Joe R. Lansdale). Martin co-edited the book with Gardner Dozois.

In his Introduction which he aptly subtitled Stories from the Spinner Rack, Martin takes us back to when he was growing up in Bayonne, New Jersey. A kid who loved books, Martin agonized on how to budget his dollar-a-week allowance.

My allowance was a dollar a week, and figuring out how I was going to split that up between ten-cent comic books (when the price went up to twelve cents, it really blew the hell out of my budget), thirty-five-cent paperbacks, a candy bar or two, the infrequent quarter malt or ice cream soda, and an occasional game of Skee-Ball at Uncle Milty’s down the block was always one of the more agonizing decisions of the week, and honed my math skills to the utmost.” – George R.R. Martin

Martin recalls the joy and mystery of going through the paperbacks in a spinner rack at a corner store. In those days, the books weren’t arranged or shelved based on genres. The books were mixed together. You might find The Brothers Karamazov sandwiched between a Barbara Cartland heart-stopper and a Robert Heinlein space saga.

Martin remembers his days going through the spinner rack:

Looking back now, almost half a century later, I can see that that wire spinner rack had a profound impact on my later development as a writer. All writers are readers first, and all of us write the sort of books we want to read. I started out loving science fiction…but inevitably, digging through those paperbacks, I found myself intrigued by other sorts of books as well. I started reading horror when a book with Boris Karloff on the cover caught my attention. Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp hooked me on fantasy, just in time for J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings. The historical epics of Dumas and Thomas B. Costain featured sword fights too, so I soon started reading those as well, and that led me to other epochs of history and other authors. When I came upon Charles Dickens and Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling on the spinner rack, I grabbed them up too, to read the original versions of some of my favorite stories, and to see how they differed from the Classics Illustrated versions. Some of the mysteries I found on the rack had cover art so salacious that I had to smuggle them into the apartment and read them when my mother wasn’t watching, but I sampled those as well, and have been reading mysteries ever since. Ian Fleming and James Bond led me into the world of thrillers and espionage novels, and Jack Schaefer’s Shane into westerns.” – George R.R. Martin


Martin now laments today’s bookstores where “genre is king”. You walk into a store and you know exactly where the fantasy or the self-help books are. The mystery and surprise that the spinner rack afforded is now gone. Martin admits it’s good for selling more books but he adds that it’s not good for readers.

It’s good for selling books, I guess. It’s convenient. Easy to find the sort of books you like. No one has to get down on their knees in hopes of finding jack Vance’s Big Planet behind that copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

But it’s not good for readers, I suspect, and it’s definitely not good for writers. Books should broaden us, take us to places we have never been and show us things we’ve never seen, expand our horizons and our way of looking at the world. Limiting your reading to a single genre defeats that. It limits us, makes us smaller.” – George R.R. Martin

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Christmas Ed Kapangan (December 14-15) To Feature Hiking, Spelunking, Rappelling, And Overnight Camping

The town of Kapangan will be staging another edition of their annual Christmas Ed Kapangan invitational event this coming December 14 and 15. Organized by the town's tourism office, the event aims to introduce more people to the various tourist destinations within the town.

The two-day affair will feature outdoor activities such as hiking, spelunking, swimming, rappelling and night camping. Participants will get the chance to visit tourist destinations which include the Taba-ao View Deck, the Obellan Catampan Rice Terraces, Longog Cave, Amburayan River, Dangwa Cave, Bulalacao Cave, and Badi Falls.

Participants will stay in Kapangan for the two-day event. They will spend the night at a camp in barangay Sagubo. The overnight camp will feature a cultural show, bonfire, and jamming. On the second day, participants will enjoy a trek to Badi Falls, arguably the town's most well-known tourist destination.

The event will culminate with dinner, awarding of certificates, and closing program at Suvani's Avong.

Photo by Daniel Ted C. Feliciano.
Those who are interested in joining the event should log into Facebook, look for the Kapangan Tourism page, and send them a message to reserve a slot. The fee for the event is 2,000 pesos. This covers meals and snacks for two days, complimentary shirt, transportation from Baguio City and back, tour guide fees, entrance fees, environmental fees, and certificates.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Marcelino Palitog Sana-oy: A Man Of The Mountains Gone Too Soon

. Marcelino Palitog Sana-oy (March 30, 1990 - November 20, 2019)
. A man of the mountains gone too soon.

He liked to call himself the "simplest runner" and he lived up to it from the time he started racing in the mountains when he was just eighteen years old to when he started flying through mountain races here and abroad. He came into the trail running scene when he was crowned the first champion of the Cordillera Mountain Marathon in Mt. Pulag and the Cordillera Mountain Ultra in Itogon, Benguet.

He has run the King of the Mountain running series. He has won the Pilipinas Akyathlon crown. He even ran races outside the country.

His name was Marcelino Palitog Sana-oy. He tragically passed away today during a freak accident in Bokod, Benguet.

Anyone who has ever met Marcelino can attest to the reality that he was one of the kindest and most humble person you'll ever met. He can be really shy but he'll always be there meeting you with his infectious smile. A smile that extends from ear to ear.

The oldest in a family of six siblings, Marcelino came from a humble background. He grew up in Cabayo, Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya. He moved to Bokod where he settled with his wife Fely and their young daughter Kee-Yah.

Life has always been a challenge for the decorated mountain runner. He has lost his mother. He lost a few of his fingers while working as a machine operator. Although he and his wife got blessed with a beautiful daughter they named Kee-Yah, life threw them a curve ball when Kee-Yah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Despite all this, Marcelino kept trucking on with his optimistic attitude and an indomitable spirit. In hindsight, if you think about all the races he has finished and won, you get a sense of the type of man that he was even if you have never met him. He eats challenges for breakfast.

Today, we've lost a good husband, an exemplary father, and an inspiring ambassador of the sport of trail running. Runners will surely miss that petite man with a larger-than-life smile. Whether he was running as a racer, working in an aid station as a marshal, or sweeping runners, he has always been a ball of inspiration and positivity.

Rest in peace, Simplest Runner.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Brave Combat Federation 29: Jeremy Pacatiw of Team Lakay Loses to Ali Al Qaisi

Jeremy Pacatiw, a mixed martial artist under the Team Lakay banner lost his most recent fight at the Khalifa Sports City Arena in Bahrain on November 15, 2019. The 26-year-old fighter went the distance against Ali Al Qaisi of Jordan. The unanimous decision victory was awarded to the Jordanian.

Pacatiw started strong in the first round with vicious leg kicks which are signature moves by fighters coming from Team Lakay. In the same round, Al Qaisi scored a takedown and mixed it up with submission attempts.

The second and third rounds were more of the same with Al Qaisi controlling most of the fight with his takedowns and top control. Pacatiw was winning the exchanges on their feet but the tide turns whenever Al Qaisi goes for and secures a takedown. For his part, Pacatiw never stopped dishing strikes even when he is down on the mat. He was able to land punches and elbows from down under.

The judges awarded the victory to Al Qaisi. With the victory, Al Qaisi is a step closer to becoming a top contender for the Brave Combat Federation bantamweight strap which is currently held by Stephen Loman, who happens to be a Team Lakay fighter thus a teammate of Pacatiw.

With the loss, Pacatiw's three-win streak comes to a halt. Prior to facing Al Qaisi, Pacatiw had victories over Keith Lee, Uloomi Karim, and Mark Alcoba.

Photo credit: Brave Combat Federation


In the main event, Azamat Murzakanov was crowned the Brave Combat Federation Open Weight Champion and the KHK World Champion.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Kibungan Invitational Climb Scheduled For November 29 - December 1

The municipality of Kibungan is staging a three-day mountain trek that will take hikers through the town's picturesque climbing trails. Scheduled for November 29 to December 1, the trek will start in Kibungan and end in the nearby town of Bauang in the province of La Union. Home to towering mountains and well-established trails, Kibungan is the perfect destination for people looking for a challenging trek.

The invitational climb is spearheaded by the municipality itself through their tourism office. Climbers joining the event should expect days of trekking through the towns rice terraces, community trails, and mountain passes. This is a three-day affair so make sure that your body is ready for it before you sign up.

Registration fee for the climb is 2000 pesos. This covers transportation from Baguio City to Kibungan, transportation from La Union back to Baguio City, guide fees, certificates, tokens, shirts, snacks for the first day and send-off meal on the third and last day.

Photo credit: Fheb Lynary

Those who are interested in joining the climb, visit the event page here or contact the Kibungan Tourism Operation Facebook page here.