March 4, 2024

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera led the kickoff program of this year’s celebration of the Indigenous Peoples Month and the 26th Indigenous Peoples Rights Act anniversary with Cordilleran achievers and honest citizens as guests in a program held at the old Bibak Compound in Baguio City on Oct. 4. 

NCIP Regional Director Atanacio D. Addog said they invited Cordillerans who were cited for their achievements and honesty to share their experiences and inspire fellow Cordillerans, especially the younger generations.  

He said these achievers are indigenous peoples who have become the source of inspiration in their respective communities and it is time for them to share it to fellow Cordillerans and also to the world to inspire others. 

Among the model IPs were three-time board topnotcher Maricris Neyney, a Kankana-ey from Buguias, Benguet; and Muaythai champion Islay Erica Bomogao from Sagada, Mountain Province and Atok and Kapangan, Benguet.

Neyney said one must never forget his/her roots. Invoking “inayan”, a Cordillera mantra that pushes one to do what is right, she said “Adikan linglinglingan di nalpuwam (Do not forget your roots) and “Adika siyat palawlawa-en di gait mo tapno mumayat ka (Do not make others look bad for you to look good). You are good because you are good, not because others are bad,” she said

Bomogao, the first Filipino female world champion in Muaythai, said one must do his or her best in whatever field he or she is in. She achieved such distinction during the 2023 International Federation of Muaythai Association Senior World Championships in Bangkok, Thailand in May 2023. She has been a consistent performer and a medalist in various local, national, regional, and international competitions over the past several years.

Joining through online platforms were Anthony Mark Emocling, an Ibaloy from Itogon, Benguet who is the first visually-impaired who passed the Bar, and Jeff Mitzel Paran, an Ibaloy from Baguio City, the first summa cum laude graduate of University of Baguio’s Social Sciences Department who graduated in July with a degree in Social Sciences major in History and minor in Political Science.

“On this Indigenous Peoples Month celebration, as a proud member of the Ibaloy tribe, let us celebrate our resilience, inclusivity, and achievements. Our culture and heritage has endured through generations, reminding us that unity and diversity are our strengths. Together, we stand tall and together, we achieve greatness, leaving a legacy of inspiration for all,” Emocling said. 

Paran, who is now taking up Law in University of the Philippines Diliman said he rediscovered his rootedness in the academe. He dreams to become an IP rights lawyer in the future.

Also sharing messages were William Anudon with his grandson Cris Jericho Buccahan, and Jerry Inuguidan, all from Ayangan in Asipulo, Ifugao who were commended for their honesty and integrity by turning over to authorities bundles of cash amounting to almost P1 million  in two separate incidents in Asipulo.

“Saan nga rumbeng nga gastusem ti saan mo nagrigatan nga kwarta. Rumbeng lang nga ibirok mo idiay makinbagi. Honesty is still the best policy that must be instilled to our children and grandchildren,” Anudon said.

NCIP Ethnographic Commissioner for Cordillera and Region 1 Gaspar Cayat congratulated the model IPs for their achievements and good deeds and thanked them for inspiring more people.

He added while October is the IPRA Law anniversary and IP Month, it should not only a commemoration of the law but it should be a celebration of the identity of indigenous peoples.

The activity was capped with a ceremonial toast led by the NCIP officials with the IP mandatory representatives, representatives from different government agencies, law enforcement agencies, IP groups, students, and other stakeholders followed by the beating of gongs and community dances. – Redjie Melvic Cawis and Jackie Ursais