BAGUIO City’s councilors are summoning Commissioner Gaspar Cayat of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) after the resurfacing of a 2021 video of Cayat linking the name of the Igorot and Lumad peoples to the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
On Monday, the Baguio council started an inquiry after a video of Cayat during the launch of the NCIP’s Epanaw books in 2021 resurfaced online, where Cayat was recorded saying that the terms Igorot, Lumad and Tumandok were “the very words being used by the CPP-NPA-NDF or the communist terrorist groups” to identify IP communities in these areas.
Cayat went on to claim in the video that the three terms were “not included in the list of 101 indigenous peoples in the country.”
Cayat was summoned to appear before the city council to answer questions regarding his statements through a resolution sponsored by Councilor Arthur Allad-iw and fellow councilors, Fred Bagbagen, Peter Fianza, Isabelo Cosalan Jr., Edwin Hilario (who also uses his clan name Bugnay) and Jose Molintas, all of whom are members of the Kankanaey and Ibaloy indigenous groups.
The resolution added that the same video footage underscored numerous negative resentments and irked the IPs, not only those residing in Baguio, but also those who trace their roots in the Cordillera.
“Cayat openly, wittingly and without any ounce of afterthought whatsoever, while arguing that the words ‘Igorot,’ ‘Tumandok’ and ‘Lumad’ are not mentioned in the 101 list of IPs in the NCIP EPANAW Coffee Table Books, emphasized that the term ‘Igorot’ is the language of the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
Thus, apart from sowing confusion, Cayat’s public pronouncement created a chilling effect among the IPs in the Cordillera, particularly those using the word ‘Igorot,’ as possible members of the CTGs,” said the resolution.
According to NCIP-CAR Regional Director Atanacio Addog, Cayat’s words were not reflective of the official stance or policy of the NCIP.
“Igorot is what we call ourselves collectively in the Cordillera, except in Kalinga province, where many people refer to themselves as Kalingas, or Ifugao province, where residents call themselves Ifugaos,” Addog said.
The Baguio City Council agreed with Addog’s position in the resolution, stressing that “Igorot was a general term used to refer to people from the Cordillera [to include] Isneg, Kalinga, Bontok, Ayangan, Tuwali, Kalanguya, Kankanaey, Iwak, Karao, Tinguian, Balangao and Ibaloy who successfully resisted assimilation into the Spanish Empire.”
Cayat meanwhile claimed that the term Igorot was a slur from the Spanish colonizers.
“Igorot to the Spaniards simply means savage, backward and uncivilized people … Lumad is a Visayan term referring to a native of a certain place, while Tumandok is a word referring to a collective group of people in the Visayas,” he said in the video post.
It can be recalled that the city council, on much lesser but similar cases back in 2009, had commented on utterances of celebrities demeaning Igorots and at one point issued a resolution of persona-non-grata against actress Candy Pangilinan who jokingly uttered “tao po ako hindi Igorot” which resulted in condemnation from the Igorot community of Baguio leading to her banishment.
Interestingly, those Igorot legislators in 2009 who pushed for persona-non-grata against Pangilinan – namely Atty. Jose Molintas and Atty. Fred Bagbagen – are again now sitting councilors. The persona-non-grata was later on rescinded after Candy Pangilinan graced the Igorot lawmakers at the city council and in tears asked for forgiveness, explaining that she was referring to the statue of an Igorot. – With reports from March Fianza