So far, I have not come across any list that details the achievements of Igorots particularly those who, you know, did it first. Maybe we should come up with one and call it “List of Igorot Firsts to Emulate” or LIFE? Medyo korni ang title at acronym ano? 😉 This being the electronic age, this list is not written in stone. In other words, you can challenge it if you think an entry is questionable and if you have the facts to back you up.
Apart from the LIFE, I am also including a “nominee list”. The difference between the two is that the former contains entries who, we can say with some degree of confidence, really did it first. On the other hand, the nominee list contains those whose achievement still have to be confirmed by other, preferably official, sources. You are also invited to nominate anyone who you think should be included. Let us make this a project to show the younger generation that they have models to admire and, more importantly, to follow.
DOMOGAN, TAULI-CORPUZ, CIELO, & BIAG
List of Igorot Firsts:
1. First Olympian: Track and field athlete Hector Begeo (3000 steeple chase) is so far the only Igorot to have participated in the Olympic Games. His best finish? Reaching the semifinals in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In other fronts, Begeo boasts of an Asian Games bronze medal which he won in 1982. He also bagged seven gold medals in different editions of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. Begeo is reportedly now based in Australia. Source here and here.
2. First Mr. Asia: Bodybuilder Samuel Ayochok placed third in the 1997 World Championships so you can call him, “Mr. Universe, Second Runner Up”. His other achievements include: besting the field in the Mr. Asia competition for three straight years (1986 to 88) and winning a gold medal in the South East Asian Games. More about him here and here. You may want to visit his gym here.
3. First Igorot mayor of Baguio Mauricio Domogan. He was initially elected as vice mayor but the mayor-elect Jun Labo was disqualified so Domogan was elevated as mayor. The two politicians then faced each other in the succeeding elections and Domogan easily defeated Labo. [Note: Correction to this entry below.]
4. First to win in a national talent search: Marky Cielo of GMA-7’s Starstruck. I’m not sure if he is the first Igorot artista because I think there were those who came before him. However, he is the most high profile (famous) and the most proud of his ancestry. Visit his website here.
5. First to be included in the wall of heroes and martyrs of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani: Macliing Dulag. He led the Kalinga-Bontoc opposition to the Chico River Dam during Martial Law.
6. First to head a United Nations (UN) body: Victoria Tauli-Corpuz who currently chairs the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. More here.
7. First ballet dancer: Biag Gaongen of Ballet Philippines.
8. First to land in the pages of the prestigious Time Magazine: Aning Andao who, along with other Igorot women, helped fight the Japanese during World War II. Time article here.
NOMINEES TO THE LIST:
1. First to be included in the pantheon of national heroes: Gabriela Silang? According to a forum entry in the Abrenian.com, Gabriela Silang is a Tingguian.
2. First to ride a plane: Gagaban? According to this site.
3. First Catholic Bishop: Bishop Francisco Claver? He last headed the Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe before he retired.
4. First Anglican/Episcopal Bishop: Bishop Edward Longid (RIP) of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines.
5. First to write as a columnist for a national daily newspaper: Juan Dait of Manila Bulletin?
6. First to ever hold office in Malacañang (not as president of course): Josephine Dominguez
7. First to record an album: Lourdes Gomeyac Fangki and Elmer Hull.
8. First Representative to Congress: Gabriel Dunuan, Jose Mencio, George Tait were all members of the First Congress. I’m sure Dunuan qualifies but I’m not sure if the others are Igorots. You might want to read an interesting Supreme Court decision regarding some properties of the late George Tait here.
This is the first installment folks. We will have updates in the future as we come across new information.
UPDATE: Domogan is not actually the first Igorot Mayor of Baguio. The distinction goes to Jose “Pepe” Carino, an Ibaloi, who was appointed city mayor from 1946-50. Carino is included in the List of Achievers here. Domogan is the first Igorot to be elected as mayor of the city.
UPDATE 2: Because it is quite hard to determine who among our kailiyans really did it “first”, we have since changed the focus of this compilation to those who achieved something in their field, you can find more of them in the Igorot/iCordillera Achievers category. Thanks.