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99.99% Sagada Igorot

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Speech: Igorot Discrimination

Note: I wrote this speech for Chelsea "Chotiyan" Likigan Afidchao years ago when she was still studying at the University of the Cordilleras. Thanks Chelsea for delivering our thoughts! We will miss you. Rest in peace, till the next speech!

I will give you five seconds stare at me. Ladies and gentle men, what I mean is simply look at me with your eyes and NOT with your minds!  After looking at me, look at your seat mate. Compare. Do you find any difference with the skin? With the hair? With the fingers? With the eyes? With the nose? With the pair of eye brows?

Believe it or not (BUT YOU MUST BELIEVE), there is no BIG difference. If you are not YET convinced that we share no big difference at all, imagine Robin Padilla, Bebe Gandanghari, Paulo Avelino or Ingrid Payaket. Good people, you are not being deceived. We all look the same: you and me, me and your seatmate, you and your seat mate.

But why are some people still being discriminated? Why are Igorots being discriminated? Why are we still facing the product of IGNORANCE among people from the lowlands? Why are we still suffering from the STEREOTYPES that only the STUPID, UNEDUCATED, UNCIVILIZE and the UNPROFFESIONAL homo habilis throw on us?

In the past days, the Igorot community was shocked with a remark on Facebook. It was giving a stereotype that Igorots are not so good-looking. It sparked angry comments from great people- Igorots and lowlanders who are NOT ignorant about us. A newspaper tagged it as another RACIAL DISCRIMINATION.

For the information of those who do not know, Igorots is a collective term for the people in the Cordillera Mountains, Baguio City included. Thus, we are referring to Ibalois, Kankanaeys, Applai, Bontoks (like me), Kalingas and other natives of this town. Our forefathers were very strong, that the Spaniards were not able to conquer our region and our culture was NOT tainted. Until now we practice our proud traditions. Our traditions include beetle nut chewing, butchering pig, eating dog meat and all other things that only ignorant people associate to as “YUCK”.

I believe the father of ignorance is no other than the EVER respected Carlos P. Romulo. For you, he is a national name for his essays about patriotism and loving this country. But to us, he is a piece of EMPTY mind. He called Igorots not Filipinos because according to his EMPTY BRAIND, Igorots have TAILS. Let me prove you his ignorance. Do I have tail?

I may have this skin, which is not as fair as Kris Aquino’s. I may have this hair not as shiny as that of Tony Gonzaga. But that will not tell anyone to disrespect me.  We have the same anatomy. We have the same food. We also cry when we are hurt. We also laugh when Vice Ganda throws a joke. We also read the newspaper. And lastly, we also pay our tuition here in the University of the Cordilleras.

I condemn those who are ignorant about us. I pity them because their teacher did not teach you properly with knowledge about Filipinos. I condemn those who discriminate us. I pity them because their parents did not do their responsibility. I condemn those who do not respect our culture. I pity them for not being aware that they have also their traditions that we always respect.  I condemn those who think their ethnicity is better than us. I pity them because they do not know that no ethnicity is better. 

Now, look at me again. And tell me if you should discriminate me for being a full-blooded Igorot. Ladies and gentlemen, who are the future managers of the Philippines, have a great day ahead and always remember that the forefathers of the president of the United States of America were once slaves and were discriminated like Igorots. Mabuhay tayong lahat!

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner in Quezon City. He is an Igorot from Sagada, Mountain Province. To get in touch with him, please shoot an email to christianaligonow@gmail.com.

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