List of Igorot Firsts to Emulate or "LIFE"

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.

From top, left to right: DULAG, AYOCHOK

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.

1. First to be included in the pantheon of national heroes: Gabriela Silang? According to a forum entry in the, 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.

18 thoughts on “List of Igorot Firsts to Emulate or "LIFE"”

  1. Esoteric but some of the “firsts” or “trailblazers” that I am curious about :
    -First Igorot to write an authoritative book about Igorots (ala William Henry Scott)
    -First Igorot to receive a PhD and in what?
    -First Igorot to receive high honors from the UP system and in what?
    -First Igorot to go abroad on a graduate scholarship
    -First Igorot to join the PMA, US Navy
    -First Igorot to serve as a Regional Director and in what department/region
    -First Igorot to be a Topnotcher in a licensure exam and in what field
    so forth…

  2. Hi Anonymous,
    Thanks for your comment. Oy baka alam mo ang ilan sa mga tinanong mo and you might want to share it with us 🙂

    Actually, because it’s quite difficult to find out who really did it “first” what I did was just to come up with a list of Igorot achievers which you can find in the Igorot/iCordillera Achievers category to the right.

    Just a wild guess on the first Igorot to write an authoritative book: Carmencita Cawed?

    Thanks again. And we welcome information about more Igorot achievers in case you know some 🙂

  3. Dear Mr. Bilig,

    From what i’ve heard from my father, Rey Tam is a native of Pudong, Kapangan, Benguet.

    Another proud Igorot achiever I know, is Roderick “Eric” Salvador from Lomon, Kapangan, Benguet. He won Mr. Philippines (not the body building competition but the male version of bb. Pilipinas). He co-hosted in GMA 7’s show hosted by “Kuya Germs” in preparation for the Mr. World competition. He also co-hosted a north luzon wide show for ABS-CBN, I think it was entitled “Northern Catch”. After he won Mr. Philippines, he was offered to do a sexy film but he turned it down.

    I know some more Igorot achievers coming out of our town but i would have to confirm their achievements. I would let you know if I’ll find them out.

    A suggestion I would like to make is a achiever category in business or entrepreneurship.

    Thank you for creating this site and more power.

  4. it is good to recognize “firsts”. but so what if they are “firsts”. how did they do it? via patronage? honest achievement? manipulation? vote-buying? influence peddling? how have they fared after being first? did they “suddenly become rich”?if it is just “firsts” then many can qualify like first to be jailed or charged in court for standing by convictions beneficial to the igorots, first to ride a ship (kasi walang dagat sa atin, kaya achievement also), first to bring home 10 heads from a tribal war (achievement also in olden times), first engineer, first dentist, first lawyer, first to be committed to the national penitentiary (so that our youngers will not emulate), first to go to the US (not besao ah!)iraq,afghanistan, first to volunteer for service to war-torn mindanao, first UN peacekeeping volunteer, first to be first no adda kasjay…. SALAMAT PO!

  5. to follow up anonymous 1:13— correc ka dyan–
    why not also include first to sell benguet flowers in dimasalang, first to beg in the streets of manila (so the kailyans will not follow)first to win a national singing contest (individual or group), first to college to be recognized as “national” institution….?

  6. Read today’s news about 16 y/o Igorot Jaylord Langbayan (town unknown), who was being sent by World Vision Organization to the UN General Assembly Special Session for Children. He is representing the Philippines. Buti na lang World Vision is paying for all his expenses, otherwise, da gabernment mite nat afford da trip.

    Well, how about first dangwa driver, jeepney driver, miner etc..this blog will be deluged with “Firsts” if we all put in our two cents. It’s great though if we can come with actual names such as first beggar, first to graduate in college with everlasting around their necks, etc…..hehehe…

    Cheers anyways…..

  7. Hi Anonymous 1:13,
    Good points. As I said in the update, I changed the focus from being “first” to something that is a more solid achievement. Thanks.

    Hi Anon 1:20,
    Hehe, speaking about begging. It’s very common in my neighborhood. I’m tempted to take pictures of them to post it here hehe. Thanks.

    Hi Trublue,
    Thanks for the info. I’m going to go google Langbayan’s name and do a post on him. 🙂

  8. maraming salamat po sa suporta nyo…… mabuhay ang mga igorot …….. dapat malaman ng buong mundo na kahit maliit lang tayo ay dapat pakinggan,,,,,,,

    mabuhay ang mga igorot.!!!!!!!

    Naimbag nga aldaw kadakayo amin,

  9. Jaylord…
    “mabuhay ang mga igorot …….. dapat malaman ng buong mundo na kahit maliit lang”

    ANG TANONG KO: maliit ang alin?

  10. maliit.. as in
    small group of people….maliit lang talaga tayo compare sa buong population ng mundo pero at least empowered na tayo…..


  12. maba2it ang mga igorot khit hndi me igorot proud to be igorot specialy ibaloi po i love

  13. …what ever your achievement is, be proud you are an IGOROT….whether first or last, it really pays to be one of the most gentle people on earth..

    PEACE everyone…

  14. igorot ak ya ulay pay wada ibagabaga da ken dataku baybayan taku we will shout what we can do to the world.

  15. Hi.. Nice site… Kindly add honoroble judge i-forgot-the-name, who was a court of appeals judge, i read it in inquirer few years back, i think the judge was an ifugao.

    I’m proud:

    -that my last name is original
    -that my ancestors fought for their independence
    -that my ancestors were never slaves of the spaniards nor the japs
    -that i live as free as I can be
    -that I am an igorot (ivaloi)

  16. 1. ALfredo Lam-en who defended the Igorots’ honor by challenging Carlos P. Romulo in congress regarding the latters statement that “igorots are not Filipinos”.
    2. Those Igorots (I don’t know who they are)who tried to solve the Chico DAm crisis the diplomatic way by going straight to Malacanang to talk to the President.

  17. I think I know if who is the first igorot us navy and according to my research here in Bontoc they said the first is retired us navy Raymundo,t,Cawed and I know if who is the first igorot to join the PMA (Philippine Military Academy) and he is late lieutenant Maximo Cawed sr I think this might help you good day.

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