Happy Hallow, the only indigenous cultural community in Baguio City, has observed a barangay-wide Indigenous Peoples’ Month celebration on weekend to assert the inhabitants’ rights over their ancestral domain.
In spite of the inclement weather due to Typhoon Paeng, residents who belong to the Ibaloy, Kankana-ey, and Ibaloy ethno-linguistic groups came in droves to participate in the program that was highlighted with cultural presentations among groups.
Young community residents led by the cultural dance group of Happy Hallow National High School took an active role in the celebration, as they performed the famous “bendiyan” of the Ibaloys.
An award-winning cultural dance troupe from Kalinga province also came to perform, as the crowd, including officials of Baguio and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, watched in amazement, as the performers beat the gongs that rhythmically struck and echoed throughout the landlocked barangay.
Members of the Aeta indigenous group from the Crow Valley in Tarlac also came to perform, as they gave the audience an idea of their cultural practices.
NCIP Commissioner for Cordillera and Region 1 Gaspar Cayat, who graced the occasion as the guest of honor and speaker, lauded officials of Happy Hallow and community residents for actively initiating an IP Month celebration to continue to inculcate to the minds of the younger generation on the need to preserve the culture and heritage of the ethno-linguistic groups.
Cayat also acknowledged the struggle of the IPs of Happy Hallow in asserting their rights over their ancestral domain in spite of the supposed non-recognition by some concerned government entities.
Contrary to claims that certificates of ancestral land titles in some parts of the city and CADT for Happy Hallow are not being recognized with Baguio under townsite reservation, Cayat said the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act recognizes the claims of the original settlers of the city.
In the case of Happy Hallow, the issuance of its CADT on Feb. 9, 2006 was by virtue of NCIP en banc Resolution 40-2006-AD, which was duly registered at the Register of Deeds of Baguio on June 24, 2009 as O-CALT 58 to the Ibaloys and Kankana-eys of the barangay.
Meanwhile, Happy Hallow Indigenous Peoples’ Mandatory Representative Joey Dizon said it is only their barangay that staged a village-wide IP Month celebration to also remind concerned government agencies and offices to respect the rights of IPs over their ancestral domain.