July 17, 2024
RENEWING UNITY AND COOPERATION — The 13th Ibaloy Day was celebrated on Feb. 23 at the Ibaloy Heritage Garden in Burnham Park with Ibaloy clans and guests  coming together in celebrating this year’s theme, “Mansaksahi tan mantitinudong kitjo pansegshan ni kaivadoyan (Let us unite and cooperate for the betterment of the Ibaloy community)” (More photos on page 20). — Ofelia Empian

The biggest organization of Ibaloys is hopeful to make its voice heard when the First Citizens of Baguio City Organization selects the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative to the Baguio City council this year.
Onjon Ni Ivadoy Association, Inc. President Maximo Edwin Bugnay, Jr. said there are ongoing discussions within the Ibaloy community for the selection of an IPMR.
“The coordination of the Ibaloys now is stronger than before because we tried to unite one another,” Bugnay, Jr. said.
Bugnay, Jr. said to prevent complaints from other indigenous groups of being excluded in the IPMR selection, elders from the Ibaloy, Kankana-ey, and Kalanguya ethnic groups have formed the First Citizens of Baguio City Organization (FCBCO) to advance the rights and welfares of the IPs.
To recall, the selection of Roger Sinot, Sr. as an IPMR in 2016 was met with complaints resulting in the filing of disqualification case against him.  The case is pending in court.
Sinot Sr., who took his oath in 2018, never assumed his post after a local court issued an injunction order preventing him from sitting as an ex-officio member of the city council.
Bugnay said Mayor Benjamin Magalong told the FCBCO to select an IPMR among them by July of this year. The term of office of an IPMR is three years.
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Commissioner for Region 1 and Cordillera Gaspar Cayat said his office has set a meeting with the IPs to thresh out the issues in selecting an IPMR.
“The IPMR seat is not exclusive for the Ibaloys. The IPMR will represent all IP groups in Baguio pero meron kasing agreement na ang panggagalingan ng first IPMR to the city government should be an Ibaloy, being the first settlers of the city. Mauuna muna ang Ibaloy, then all the IP groups can follow,” Cayat said. 
He said the IPs should also create their own indigenous political structure to select unanimously who would sit as IPMR.
“Other migrants could also have their IPMR in the city but we have to address that. What is clear for now is that the IPMR should come from the original settlers of Baguio and Benguet,” he said. – Ofelia C. Empian