A month long, the Ibaloy Festival needs rhyme and reason to keep the fires lit and the food cooking for those who will come to partake of the celebration.
The energies will wane, but it dawned on me that this was the most opportune time for the clans to update the genealogies for the others who will come to continue the saga.
Lynette Carantes Bibal is the spirit who has fanned the embers of her own story, as she discovers how her father, the late Geoffrey Carantes, was wise in drawing the bits and pieces of the Ibaloy culture in the early 60s and 70s in preparation for the book on Benguet.
Bibal has been led to creating a festival that actually intends to call all the members of the different clans in Baguio and Benguet together to fill in the gaps or add names and families to the large genealogical charts of their forefathers and present generations.
The Tabano Evasco-Umang Shekdeg booth was perhaps the epitome of the festival. Prepared with a monograph of their clan genealogy, photographs on the wall of prominent members of the clan and their material culture collection, and a notebook for those who came to add to the names and families already printed.
This could also mean to keep in touch and leave contact numbers. The most important for me is to be able to sell some items that other visitors might be interested in that is of the culture.
Personally, I hoped to find some binubudan or such food made from rice or cassava sprinkled with yeast to ferment. It would be nice to find some tapuey, taro, or sweet potato, too. Since this was a sharing of the Ibaloy life in the past and those that are kept to the present.
It was a wonderful coincidence that I came in time for lunch that was made up of boiled pork meat, pising or boiled taro stalks and leaves, soup from the boiled meat, and lots of crushed chili and soy.
The treat was the crispy intestines that came after the meal. I suddenly remembered those days when the late Cecile Afable, the veteran newshen and descendant of Mateo Cariño, would bring us to the cañaos hereabouts where she would be served the liver and other choice parts of the offered animals.
There are more than 20 booths to visit and to check out the clans and genealogical charts. There were some tarpaulins where corrections or additions were indicated in the margins. There were those who sat and read the names, tracing their families, perhaps.
I came to a booth where I was struck by a familiar photo of Chainus Guirey, the first carnival queen of Baguio, and realized it was an enlarged version of my article in a magazine published by Jack Cariño and Chi Balmaceda Guitierrez in celebration of the Philippine Centennial, The Baguio Yearbook.
I couldn’t help but announce that I was the author and earned the right to have a photograph taken with the younger generations of the clan. Thanks to former Itogon vice mayor Aloysius Kato for that interview and the photos that were taken by Jojo Lamaria.
A visitor asked if the crown was still around, I said, yes. This gave me the idea that perhaps in the next festivals, these important anecdotes and artifacts should have a prominent space to tell the stories.
Vicky Tumbaga was my most important discovery in the festival. I have worked with her for the past five years on her genealogy of La Trinidad families in the hope of publishing the book that could be an important record of the more than 24 generations of Benguet and Ibaloy clans. Perhaps, it will not take a decade to put it together in the digital form so that it could be finally printed.
Please go to the Ibaloy Festival at the Ibaloy Heritage Garden at Burnham Park if you are among the families that saw the growth and peopling of Benguet.
Connect and update those precious generation lines and family trees so that some concrete evidence could be left for the next generations.