April 17, 2024

WHILE WAITING for my ride at Rajah Matanda St., a smiling senior man came near and said: “Hello, pards; long time no hear, no see! Howaryo, howaryo?”
I GREETED him – same level of ‘familiarity’: “I’m alpine (all fine); thank you. And you.. if I may ask?” And we both laughed, closing in on recognition. I said:
“YOU’RE.. EL BORADOR! Yes, you must be. When your eyes a bit sparkled when I used the Conditional ‘if I may ask?’, I immediately closed the guessing, and whispered in-mind, I’m right, it’s him – el borador, the ‘eraser’ we used-to-say in the University. I guess you’re still that: the eraser of all doubts, obstructing (counter)arguments, volatile points.. et cetera?”
‘YES, STILL AM.. What I used to be – gaya ng dati (Transl: “Same as has been”).. but you, I could recognize from afar.. my eyes, they’re still good and your stature.. figure, I should say.. yes, ‘unique’.. and you said that before, didn’t you? [I nodded, and added]:
“YES, MANY TIMES before. Even now, I often say it, in shorter phraseology: ‘the unique Ibaloi way’!” [And his eyes sparkled (a bit) again, as he exclaimed:
‘THAT’S RIGHT! AKIN to the Chinese reference of the tau or tao.. ‘the way’. Yes, I recall again: our colleagues fondly referred to you as Baloy-Tao; or literally, it meant: “he who exudes that Ibaloi ‘way’? [I got ‘conscious’ somewhat: I was nodding to almost all of what he was saying.. but he kept on]:
‘TELL ME, PARDS: where really is Ibaloiland.. or the original ‘homeland’ of the Ibalois? I’ll do cope with any of your answers.. though I’m no anthro, nor linguist, nor historian, etc., I’ll try my best to listen, you’ll see!’
“WHOA.. IBALOILAND.. HOMELAND, you say?” Then, I smiled.. as I silently looked at him in the eye – that kind of look that can be put to words, viz. ‘you really mean to ask me that?’ But I have to dismiss myself from further thoughts; and instead, I managed a:
“IN THE SACRED songs, their chanteurs sing.. often: that their ancestors ‘came originally from Tinek (now Tinoc, Ifugao). Maybe that was a long, long time ago.
“THEN, THOSE ANCESTORS settled in low-lying, unforested – paway, areas, notably in Benguet and in Kayapa (now, part of Nueva Vizcaya). Some.. still settled in the foothills and boundary areas of Benguet with other Provinces adjacent – so, like now we find (their) descendant-settlers of Fianza, San Nicolas, Pangasinan; or those near Bilis, or in Burgos, La Union. Ah, their historians know a lot more. Those are just what I can say in the meantime. Come, let’s have some coffee sip nearby..” [but he was still serene, and his forefinger – pointing upward to signal ‘one more, please?’, he shot]:
‘I READ IN a certain Demographic Stat: Itogon (municipality) is circa now but 68 percent Ibaloi-speaking; Bokod, about 92-95%; and Kabayan, a bit higher.. I wonder..’ [but I have to cut his words with]:
“AH, AMIGO BORADOR.. But you’re talking of the speech or language(s) they generally use; not their ethnic origin or affiliation; but anyways..
“THOSE THREE MUNICIPALITIES have been named – together with five others, nl. Tuba, Sablan, Atok, Tublay, and La Trinidad – as the traditional (maybe not ‘original’) Ibaloi towns of Benguet – but now.. they’re fast getting ‘mixed’ – and urbanized; contemporaried and ‘cosmopolitized’. You know what I’m saying? [and he was nodding and grinning as I ended with]:
“BUT EVEN IF their language – Nabaloi or Ibaloi – gets ‘obscured’ at times, their Oral (and Written) lines of the ‘traditional Ibaloiland’ are often read, sung, and re-sung! Ayuh, Ayuh, Inuh!