September 25, 2023

An Ifugao group leader refuted the claims made by another group who appeared before the city council earlier to seek the latter’s help in settling their differences.

Raul Ballogan, founder and National President of the Intermingling of Ifugao Body and Brotherhood Association, Inc. (IIBBA), has asked Ifugao residents in Baguio not to be sidetracked by the issues that tend to divide, instead of unifying them.

Ballogan reached out to the Midland Courier to air his side and clarify some of the claims made by Ifugao Brethren (FIB) headed by David Dumangeng at the city council and which was published in the paper in its April 23, 2023 issue.

The two groups could not settle their differences on the celebration of the Ifugao Day, which was set on April 29.

Dumangeng’s group asked the city council to help them settle their differences, especially on the use of the Ibaloy Heritage Garden as venue for the Ifugao Day and eventually for the groups to unite and conduct their events as one group.

Ballogan said he was for unity, which is the very reason he worked hard to form a group that would unite the Ifugaos residing in Baguio.

This is also why he gave up his reservation of the Ibaloy Garden and opted to have his group hold their version of the Ifugao Day at the Igorot Garden so the FIB can use the area and prevent aggravating the problem.

Ballogan said it is not true that he evaded invitations by the FIB for them to sit together and settle their concerns and talk about uniting.

“I sent my representatives to the meetings they initiated because I want to make it clear that when we meet, we will talk about uniting our groups, but that is not what they are discussing during meetings,” Ballogan said.

He said he is willing that the two groups merge and promote the interest of all the Ifugaos in Baguio, not just the personal interests of the officers.

The IIBBA and FIB used to be one group, but Ballogan said during the times he went to Banaue, Ifugao to seek an elective post, Dumangeng’s group elected new officers, in violation of the by-laws about the qualifications of officers.

He said Dumangeng became president of the group by virtue of succession when the elected head resigned from her post due to criticisms by members and officers of IIBBA chapters who said she was not qualified to become a federation president.

Ballogan said what’s happening with the Ifugao groups now is unfortunate, considering that his intention in forming the group was to unite all the Ifugaos.

“I worked hard to organize the Ifugaos residing in Baguio in 2004, because I wanted to replicate the unity of the people from Mountain Province who are always ready to help their provincemates who are in need or get together for fellowship,” he said.

He added he wants the Ifugaos in Baguio to be united and also look after each other and work together to promote and protect their culture.

The IIBBA and FIB staged the Ifugao Day on separate venues.

Earlier, the city council tasked the committee on indigenous peoples chaired by Councilor Maximo Hilario Edwin, Jr., to sit down with the groups and help them resolve their differences.

The councilor asked the two groups to settle their differences so that they can hold the Ifugao Day as one group. – Jane B. Cadalig