List of Igorot Achievers: Part 2

Okay, let’s continue with our listing of Igorots that we should emulate. However, let’s now call it the List of Igorot Achievers or in short, “The List”. The title we originally proposed, List of Igorot Firsts to Emulate a.k.a. LIFE, really sounds silly and corny, so let’s settle for a simpler title.


1. First woman national hero: Gabriela Silang. I am officially elevating her to The List after finding several sources which state that she is a Tingguian mestiza. Funny how history books describe her as the Ilocano Joan of Arc but never ever mention her Tingguian ancestry. If there’s anyone out there campaigning for more factual history textbooks, I will gladly hop on board. More about our Tingguian hero here and here.

2. First rebel priest: Conrado Balweg. Like him or dislike him, no one can deny that Balweg was the face of the Cordillera revolutionary at one time. He articulated the problems of the region, was once the CPP/NPA’s poster boy, and was a source of inspiration for budding rebels. Balweg eventually made peace with the government, authorized a movie about his life (starring Philip Salvador and Tetchie Agbayani) that made money at the box office, became a government official, and waged war against his former comrades. He was assassinated in 1999 allegedly by some communist guerrillas. Balweg articles here and here.

3. First to popularize indigenous weave: Narda Capuyan promoted our culture by innovating on the traditional ikat art of hand weaving. Her products conquered high-end stores like Bloomingdales in the U.S. and are now displayed in different parts of the world. In 1999, Narda was selected as one of The 100 Women of the Philippines who have excelled in their work and contributed to national development. More here and here.

4. First to head a Government Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC): Rufino Bomasang headed the Philippine National Oil Corporation at one time. He resigned when news reports started questioning the scandalously high salaries of GOCC officials. (Most other GOCC officials whose salaries were questionned didn’t budge from their seats.) Igorots should be proud of Mr. Bomasang for giving up a very lucrative position. Anyway, Bomasang is now the president of a power company, Sultan Energy. More info on him here. If I’m not mistaken (I still have to check), Bomasang’s first claim to fame is his topping the board exam for mining engineers.

5. First to win a case against the Philippine government: Mateo Cariño. His case against the Philippine government which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (we were still a colony then) established the Cariño doctrine which states that possession of land since time immemorial is a valid basis for land title. Unfortunately, although the doctrine is often cited by activists it is also often ignored by the courts and is thus not applied where it counts. More here.

6. First to establish a community newspaper: The Hamada Siblings (Sinai and Oseo Hamada and Cecille Afable). The siblings started the Baguio Midland Courier which, in a lot of ways, connected the different Cordillera groups/peoples and helped bring about a pan-Cordillera consciousness. More about Cecille here. An interesting libel case filed by faith healer/politician Jun Labo against the siblings and the Midland can be found here. In acquitting Hamada, et. al., the Supreme Court said to Labo: “You have no proof that you are the one referred to as ‘dumpty in the egg’.” Okay, the Court didn’t exactly use those words but that’s the gist. [Note: This was edited on June 19, 2007 to reflect the comment below. Thanks to our anonymous commenter for the info.]

7. First photographer: Eduardo Masferre, widely acknowledged as the Father of Philippine Photography, preserved images of the Cordilleras through his pictures. More about him here.

8. First World War II guerrilla officers: Major Bado Dangwa and Major Dennis Molintas. I’m sure there are other guerrilla officers but for some reason Dangwa and Molintas are the most prominent. More about them here. Incidentally, the families of Dangwa and Molintas now are leading political forces in Benguet. Dangwa was also involved in transportation and his bus company, Dangwa Tranco, once dominated the Manila-Baguio line. Like the Baguio Midland Courier, Dangwa Tranco also brought Cordillerans closer as a people but this time in the geographical sense. Sadly, the bus company is now a shadow of its former self. For the trivia minded: The flower district in Manila is popularly known as Dangwa and the Cordillera police regional office is named Camp Bado Dangwa.

Nominees to The List:

1. First to establish an indigenous evangelical church group: Moses Chungalao of the Free Believers of Christ Inc.?

2. First to ever hold office in Malacañang (not as president of course): William “Billy” Claver as consultant to former President Joseph Estrada on Indigenous Issues? I’m not sure if Atty. Claver actually had an office in Malacañang. If he did, then he pre-dates Mrs. Dominguez who now holds office there.

3 thoughts on “List of Igorot Achievers: Part 2”

  1. Note: This comment was moved from the entry on Igorots in Rizal. Thanks.

    Anonymous has left a new comment on your post “Outside Cordi: Igorots in Rizal”:

    I was directed to this site while searching on Conrado Balweg and saw your “firsts” list. Sorry if I have to post my comment on the space provided for your recent entry which is unrelated to my comment. I just want to make sure that you’ll get to read it :-). Oseo Hamada’s not Sinai Hamada. Sinai’s the brother of Oseo. Oseo and Cecilia afable weren’t the founders nor were the ones who put up the Baguio Midland Courier nor were they the ones who conceptualized it. It was Sinai Hamada, who’s truly the writer, journalist, litterateur among them. Your not being sure if Sinai is Oseo and making that statement if he isnt, then we should include him as one of the founders should tell you that you have to do your homework before making such claims.

    Posted by Anonymous to from the boondocKs at 6/17/07 5:52 PM

    Hi Anonymous,
    Thanks for the information.

  2. LATer fr. balweg turned his back on CPP-NPA and established CPLA(Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army) CPLA, in some upland municpalities in ilocos are known as “chicken thiefs” and “extortionists”. i am against them and im not for the other side either. this is based on the villagers in these municipalities.

    i guess kung totoo ito, CPLA needs to be more educated.

  3. Hi ilocano blogger,
    Yup. Tama ka. Balweg’s reputation deteriorated when he became a part of the government structure and gained power. Which is sad because he could have been a great man. His evolution is a cautionary tale for revolutionaries who get sucked into the system or who gain power. Thanks.

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