December 8, 2022

Launched in time for the 35th Cordillera Day celebration, the coffee table book “Kaapuan: Benguet Heritage Series” features the rich culture and heritage of the province.

One of the book editors, Jimmy Fong, said the book puts together information from various documents and key informants in an attempt to construct a coherent and meaningful story. 

“The book’s writers, editors, and publishers hope to present a narrative that will inspire the people of Benguet with a glorious past to enable them to continue to write stories of brighter futures,” Fong said.

The book has three parts: the first is the presentation of the Benguet ili recounting the history of how the province once known as the “Gran Cordillera Central” came to be; the second part centers on the rediscovery of Apo Anno, the legend behind the great warrior, the famous journey of his mummified remains that still fascinates then until today, and which strengthens i-Benguet’s identity; and the third part presents the worldview of the indigenous peoples of Benguet, on how they live in harmony with their neighbors and the environment.

Provincial Board Secretary and Project Manager Brian Crispin said the book was initiated by Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative Sario Copas, who took the role from December 2017 to January 2021.

It was also made possible with the support of former Vice Gov. Johnny Waguis and funded by the provincial government under Gov. Melchor Diclas. 

Copies of the book were distributed to the 13 municipalities, schools, and institutions in the province that help in the preservation of culture and tradition.

Diclas also recognized the personnel who worked to make the book possible.

They are writers and researchers Jo Ann Guillao, Phoebe Pad-eng, Kimberly Barua, and Freddie Baday; field interviewers are Melissa Bacangan and Roshiela De Castro; contributors Patricia Mayamnes, Sario Copas, and Cindy Copas; editors Ann Loreto Tamayo and Fong; lay-out and book design Arjay Bacdayan; photographers Bacdayan and Jezer Reyes; and project managers Crispin and Patricia Mayamnes.

“As the book contains vital parts of our history including beautiful stories passed on to us by our ancestors, I encourage teachers and students to make this book a part of their reading and reference. Tattooing and mummification, brief descriptions of the 13 municipalities, and the life of Apo Anno are great topics that enrich the mind. It is always wise for the young to reflect on the depths of their cultural background,” Diclas said.

Fong said they hope the project would be continued as they have other Benguet stories in mind that need to be put to the fore for the appreciation of the young and old generations of the province. – Ofelia C. Empian