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Bagiw and the Ibagiws
by Morr Pungayan

For easier foundations of Reference, we introduce six (6) terms of utmost utility in this Discussion: Bagiw, Ibagiw, Igudut, Ivadoi, Ikulos, Ehnontog.

Bagiw is the original name of the place now called Baguio City, more or less. It literally is: referring to a kind of moss which abounded in the area together with the tibangdan (giant fern), the johjohkow (still of the fern family coloured yellow-green), the ampait (sunflower), and of course, the ‘native’ grasses: kholon, kayboan, and the ‘ordinary’ dohbet.

Legend (or History) has it: when the Americans could not get the rather ‘difficult’ Ibaloi rendition of Ba-giw, they just let-be the spelling of the Ilokano (the first or nearest Lowland group  to stay, work, or settle in then Ibaloi Bagiw) secretaries or clerks, escribientes, and that being: B-a-g-u-i-o.

Ibagiw [therefore] is a ‘dweller’–whether original or traditional; or of ‘migrant’, Binonnal, parents but born in Baguio; or even a new but permanent resident of Baguio or Bagiw. The i- prefix stands for the preposition ‘from’; thus it can be applied to other dwellers in their own respective areas, to wit: Isagada, Ikalinga, Imanila (or Imanidda).

Igudut is the term used generally by the Ibagiws and their fellows in Benguet, to refer to themselves–but with the inclusion of other tribes North, West, South and East of them. Rendered in Contemporary writing, it is often spelled I-g-o-r-o-t. Let’s not forget: the earlier Spanish Chroniclers of Fray Antonio Mozo’s time spelled it Ygollotes; although later Spanish records show the traces of Igorrotes–later also used by American historican, William Bryan.

Ivadoi is the ‘native’ pronunciation of Ibaloi–the more popular or ‘official (?)’ rendition, as reflected in books or public documents. In Otto Scheerer’s report, published by the then Bureau of Ethnology of the American Government in 1905, the identified territories of the Ivadoi then speaking their Nabaloi (language) were: Beng-nget (La Trinidad and Suburbs), Bagiw (now Baguio), and Kayapa (now a town of Nueva Vizcaya).

Ikulos literally means “from the River Bank areas”; so, this refers to the Ibalois living close or near the Rivers–with special emphasis to the great Agno River. The present occupants of Bokod, Itogon, and Kabayan are examples.

Ethnontog literally means “from the mountains; or string of mountains (and no big rivers, but brooklets and wet creeks)”. The present occupants of La Trinidad, Atok, Tuba, Kapangan, Sablan, and Baguio (or Bagiw!) are examples.

Bagiw: Beyond the Term

Aside from its literal use and meaning which is the Ivadoi word for “Baguio” (i.e. the City of Baguio), the term Bagiw spell more and carry with it ‘notable’ implications like:

Bagiw is the place “Central” to many individuals: it is where they go for official transactions, for Education itself, for buying their needs or selling their wares, for other things important.

So “Central’ that in fact, there is a verb-form evolved from it, viz man-bagiw (or man bekkhiw), i.e. “to go Baguio-bound”. Like all man - verbs (Ib.), the past tense marker for the said verb is the prefix nan-so: nan-bagiw, i.e. “went Baguio – bound”.

One peculiar meaning derived out of the verb-form of Bagiw is [sort of] ‘Prestige’. For example, if a guy frequents going to Baguio–for his own purposes anyway–the observer can say: Ara, kaka maninshaxel ni Bagiw (or Bagi - Bagiw)! “EXPR, you many times go to Baguio! [Implication: ‘you are capable of the Expenses”].

In which case, if a guy-not from Baguio–and ‘not capable’, especially financial–frequents Bagiw, his ‘close’ ones can be heard to exclaim: Ara angsan! Moha ijohkot i Bagiw! (EXPR, EXPR you frequent Baguio too much)!

Bagiw or Baguio is also a place for relaxation. Many, even those nearby , just ‘come up’ to Baguio just to spice up  the ‘routinary’  life in the Rurals,  or in their home-cities. Some claim it is the weather–normally cool and pleasant. Some say those individualized reasons: ‘to watch a good movie in town’, ‘to dine at our preferred restaurant’, ‘to visit Burnham Park’, ‘to see my only relatives–now, Ibagiws!’, others.

Finally, Bagiw is where one finds (or may find) what is not available in his home place. Two illustrations: the husband of conceiving woman says,”my wife wants to see turtles; she says at least two turtles”. And the storekeeper blurts: “as you know, no one here takes care of turtles , but there are plenty at Baguio!” and the other example.

“I have a terrible headache, it has been two days now..” and the listening one immediately says: “ why don’t you go to a doctor, there are a lot of good ones in Baguio, yahh!”.

The Ibagiws: ‘Perimeters’ of term-application

Originally, the term Ibagiw only applied to the descendants of early Ibaloi pioneers speaking Nabaloi (the Ehnontog variety especially) and responding to the ‘Ethnic’ references or classifications: Igudut and Ivadoi (or variants: Mangebadoi, Nabedoi, Inibaloi, etc.)

Later, when the Americans came–first in 1898; then, in 1900 when they established government control–they brought along with them their assistants, clerks, and/or office workers, etc. who were ‘lowlanders’ (mostly Ilokanos) and, the respective families of these as well.

But at that time the Ibagiw Ivadois still referred to them as: Merikano, Iduko, and ‘Mestiso’ (American, Ilokan, and ‘Half-blood’). Even the tribes surrounding were still referred–to or, preferred to refer to themselves–as: Pangasinan, Batangueño, Bontok, Kankana-ey, Ifugao, Kalanguya, etcetera. In short, only the Bagiw Ivadois (or Iguduts) were referred to as Ibagiw.

There were Chinese and Japanese nationals too; some came for the Kennon Road construction, some came for business, some came out of ‘natural’ liking for the place.

And the result? Ibagiw old folks relate of a “Chinese right-side Session Road and a Japanese left-side of that road”. And other entrepreneurs too–both of local or alien origin!

As a natural consequence–or eventually–because of the Love and Affection that normally spring forth from the Human species, intermarriages began, ensued, and prospered. Years and decades more, and grew up the Mestisos–so we have had not only “half” but also “one-eight”, “one-16th”, and so on.

So, meanwhile, some later descendants of ‘pure’, original’ Ibagiws were sprung from mixed marriages. So that, if you are at present, by Chromosome-computation a “32th part- Ibagiw” , do you have to say that to everybody? Just say you are: an Ibagiw!

[For these specific cases, we have introduced in past time the adoption of a ‘capturing’ term: Baguiote; it seems, however, nobody has taken note of it seriously. A few times, I heard it applied in self-reference though. The speakers were not jesting, I surmise].

* * * * * * * * * *


Not by Reason of blood or descent (Sanguinis) but by Principle of Jus Soli, roughly ‘Place of Birth’, have we now ‘new’ Ibagiws – ‘Baguio born’ at that.

They necessarily don’t have the blood of the Igudut–or a ‘tincture’ of that; but they are the fighting and consistent Wielders of the Ibagiw Seal-and-Zeal.

Concluding Remarks

Bagiw or Baguio City - the physical place of our discussions was the Choice of the American Insular Government to be their ‘Sanitarium, a vacation area’–each time they needed to get relief from their busy duties in the hot low-lying lands, especially in the Capital then: Manila.

And they did so: they built the city to be one of the ‘Wonders’ of the Graeco-Roman (by tradition) World, didn’t they? Witness the landmarks: Burnham Park, Camp John Hay, some yet existing 90 [or more] years of age buildings.

Then–the devastations of World War II–which, if possible, no one wants to detail; because of the Horrors and sadness it brings. Everybody suffered from that War. So, it is best put buried in the Archives and nooks of History.

After the years of Reconstruction, Bagiw once more came to the fore e.g. it earned by itself the reference of: “The Summer Capital of the Philippines”; or “the leading Educational Center of the North”, and so on. But again, on July 16, 1990, it was one of those areas devastated by the Killer Quake that hit many other places, especially in Luzon. Levelled were many buildings and sufferings of magnitude fill the Records of that fearsome Quake.

After years of revival, Bagiw’s ‘physique’ is again restored to grandeur.  It is again the favorite Stopover of visitors and investors–foreign and local, its educational institutions have multiplied arithmetically and the students of these have swelled geometrically. Bagiw now, in spite of its size, is a lure irresistible to most who come and visit it!

* * * * * * * * * *


Ibagiw(plu. Ibagiws) used to be a term originally applying to the occupants of Early Baguio. Now, it has ‘metamorphosized’ into several sub-terms or sinonimas–with varied ‘specific’ applications, to wit: “Baguio boy”,” Blueblood  native of Baguio”, “Baguio-born G.I.”, “Baguio Apache” (no relation to Geronimo, the Chirihuahua Apache; nor to el Chuncho, the Mescalero Apache; I hope)?

But even if the term Ibagiw is now rarely applied in its ‘original-sense’ of application, we pray it will always ‘shine’ to refer to the traditional Ibagiws?

It is up to them to keep and cherish [it]; and most importantly, ACCEPT, as their true IDentification when applied to them by their kin Ikulos and Ehnontogs, by other Baguio-descended family members, or by others in general.

Bagiw and the Ibagiws: we salute thee both on your special Day of Foundation. Everyone knows: in this City’s beginning, you were there; and up to this time, you are still there! Mabuhay, Oo-wai, Oo-wai: (Hei, hei!).

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