February 1, 2023

I WRITE – ANEW, with Fondness and Reflection, those years or times I spent in Tublay, and with i-Tuvdais, mostly here in Baguio, in La Trinidad, and thereat.
MY FIRST ATTRACTION with the I-Tuvdais was in Baguio City – when I momentarily stopped schooling – due to financial constraints.
WE MOSTLY CHANCED upon one another in some restaurants, liquor stores, and yes(!), in billiard halls!
[I WAS A Billiard aficionado somewhat. Those times, I knew where the billiard halls in Baguio City were. The last time I played billiards as a competitor was when I was working in the Bataan Refugee Processing Center. I ended up playing for championship against Negros Occidentalian, Warlito Loja – who was to become my cum patri later, by my son, Jan Fitzmorr.
[AFTER MY BATAAN stint with the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) for nigh three years, I came back to Baguio, and met again, renewed ties, with some I-Tuvdais, not a few, I recall – in some local billiard halls!
[MEANWHILE, SON Jan Fitzmorr took after me on that billiard sport. He used to bring home his favourite billiard stick, tako, and relate to me about this or that upcoming contest he was joining, but back to the I-Tuvdais I encountered in those halls and in other sites].
AT LA TRINIDAD, Poblacion, I was playing billiards again – but often, for relaxation. I was working as a Capitol Guard that time. It did happen: I befriended some I-Tuvdais, again. But this time, I was more attracted by their ‘different’ way of speaking Ibaloy [I didn’t know yet that time: the term [language] ‘accent’, that was what attracted me: a ‘different’ kind of ‘accent’ the I-Tuvdais [and some other groups] were using. Really, I was ‘all ears’ each time I chanced upon a conversation they had. Some illustrative examples, let me give, vis-à-vis my own ‘accent’ renditions]:
WORD LEVEL: THE I-Tuvdai will say Dohsukan, my (or our) ‘accent’ at home is Sabiyen, that is, for “front door”.
PHRASE LEVEL. THE I-Tuvdai will say, No binbinbinen ko, we say: No bidbidbiren ko, i.e. “When(ever) I look closely (at s.t.)”.
SENTENCE LEVEL. THE I-Tuvdai will say, Hattan I si-kam, hajai I si-kak, we say: Hattan enan ka, hajai enak. And so forth. Are the examples fair enough with you? There are some more, a lot more; but let those given today suffice in the meantime. So, that was my second attraction: the I-Tuvdai ‘different’ language accent.
AND NOW, FINALEMENT, my kinship or lineage with the I-Tuvdais. I am related to them consanguineally – or by blood, by virtue of my ancestress in the paternal line: I-Tuvdai af-afu Backing – our reputed Father’s father’s father’s wife; or great-great grandmother. Here’s the story on spot-light:
ACCORDING TO RELATIVES and some raconteurs too, Af-Afu Backing was a little girl somewhere in Tuvdai. She was a daughter of a cattleman, wara y baha to (Lit. “He/one who has animal domesticates”). Her father knew and had many other cattlemen chaps who came now and then to his place to do some cattle dealings, or just to visit – do the Ibaloi way of: Adivay.
ONE OF THESE cattleman was so fascinated with girl Backing – who always addressed him Ama (“father”. n.b. in those times, the terms ‘uncle’, or pangamaan, etc., were not yet used).
ONE DAY, GIRL Backing told her father and mother she wanted to go to her (other) Ama’s place. The parents consented, indicate the narrations; until: maidenhood, Af-Afu Backing spent some more times with her ‘foster’ parents East – now Adaoay, or thereabouts, in today’s Kabayan.
SHE GOT MARRIED in Bashoy to one Bannickas, son of Ano Ng or ‘Anonang’. Bannickas and Backing were the parents of my father’s father, Sinizin or Pungayan.
IN 2004, I went with some close friends to attend a church Feast, at Checkao, Daclan, Tublay. I introduced myself as a descendant of once an I-Tuvdai in the past, Backing by name.
THE FOLKS THEREAT liked our stories – and the songs too of the group I was with: the MAKNIBA (Maksil ni Ibadoi). They received us warmly and sincerely.
WHEN IT WAS going-home time, as my companions and I were approaching a kiosk, one elder said: “I heard your speech some hours back, insan (‘cousin’), your great-great grandma’s name is Binquan, not Backing!”
WE SHOOK HANDS with them, thanked them, and they and we – mutually agreed: one day, our ties shall again be renewed! Ayuhh kha nete!