Some of the old photographs of the Ibaloys, who were mostly original settlers of Kafagway (old name of Baguio) not seen before were turned over to their descendants by a group from the University of Michigan at the Ibaloy Heritage Garden on Aug. 7.
Clad in their traditional garbs, descendants of the great Ibaloy chieftain Mateo Cariño, Palaci, Laoyan, and Carantes clans received the framed photographs of the Ibaloys taken by the Americans at the beginning of the 20th century.
Johanna Cariño, granddaughter of first Ibaloy doctor Jose Cariño, was thankful to the members of the foreign team and their Filipino counterparts for bringing home the priceless photographs of their kin.
Dr. Jose Cariño was the fourth son of Mateo Cariño, who fought hard for the recognition of ancestral land claims of indigenous peoples (IPs).
The photographs are also valuable materials in line with the long-term projects of Ibaloys in Baguio and Benguet in tra-cing their genealogy, which was the main focus of the recent Ibaloy Festival.
This year’s Ibaloy Festival gathered more than 25 clans from Baguio and Benguet, who have agreed to compile their res-pective genealogies to trace where they all intersect and come out with one genea-logy of the Ibaloys.
During the tracing of genealogy through the so-called “tonton”, Ibaloy families posted their respective fa-mily trees coupled with old or restored photographs of their ancestors, as they also shared oral histories of their ancestors with the young Ibaloys and guests.
The bringing home of the photographs dubbed “Reconnecting/Recollecting Kafagway” was a long-term project of the team led by Ricky Punzalan, PhD., director of Museum Studies of the University of Michigan and project director and Deirdre dela Cruz, PhD., project co-director.
The other team members are Jim Moss, collections manager at the Museum of Anthropology; Alexis Antracoli, PhD., director of Bentley Historical Library; Diana Bachman, assistant director for Research Services of Bentley Historical Library; Hesse Johnson, PhD., archivist; Filipino American journalist Orlando dela Cruz; and Analyn Balmores, PhD., of the University of the Philippines Baguio.
The photographs also captured some of the material culture of the members of the original 48 Ibaloy families with ancestral land claims in Baguio City.
One of the photographs captured a young female Ibaloy with a huge hand-woven blanket in her background.
Based on accounts, the blanket was worth the value of five cows, which was a valuable animal during that period.
Johanna Cariño shared to the University of Michigan team that Ibaloys in Baguio continue to suffer from injustice due to the government’s non-recognition of their ancestral land claims.
Even the descendants of Mateo Cariño, who fought hard before the United States Supreme Court over the ownership by IPs of lands since time immemorial, are facing a tough challenge in perfecting their ancestral land claims.
To recall, the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 23, 1909, ruled in a historic decision that Mateo Ca-riño was indeed the owner of Ypit and Lubas (Camp John Hay), by virtue of the legal concept of “Native Title, the doctrine that started the official recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples over their ancestral lands.
The great old man Cariño died without seeing the fruit of his quest for the recognition of the native title now being invoked by the IPs and indi-genous cultural communities worldwide.
When Baguio marked its centenary as a chartered city in 2009, descendants of the original settlers of the city also decried the century of injustice for the Ibaloys.
The Ibaloys claimed that more than a century since the historic U.S. Sup-reme Court ruling on the “Native Title”, the ancestral land claims especially of the Cariños have not been fully recognized up to now. – Harley F. Palangchao