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Alfredo Lamen: "Father of the Igorots"

Famous Quote of Atty. Alfredo G. Lamen: "Between Carlos P. Romulo and me, the only difference is that he wears his g-string around his neck while I wear mine below." *********************************************** Atty. Alfredo Gayagay Lamen was born and raised in the beautiful town of Sagada, Mountain Province. His parents were Mr. & Mrs. Simon and Ligaya Lamen. The father was from Poblacion, Sagada and the mother originated from Taccong. He married Florence Busacay, a beautiful maiden with both Besao and Sagada roots. The couple were blessed with two adorable children; Graal and Binky. Prior to his marriage, he had a past relationship and had a daughter by the name of Graal-Melba Lamen. Apart from his political career, being a leader and defender of the Igorots. Atty. Lam-en lived a normal happy family man. He was loved by his people because he was open to everyone, friendly and kind hearted. Many of our young leaders now a days have idolized him because of his good wisdom, integrity and great sense of humor. My folks described him as crowd drawer because of his honest intentions in delivering his speeches that he also clearly demostrated through actions during his administrations. That certainly was the highlight that the audience loved and appreciated of him because he didn't make promises that he could not do. His name echoes upto this age... His notable jokes, handsome face, manly gestures and cowboy looks gained him the name, "local John Wayne" of the Cordillera. Growing up as a young girl in the 80's I have admired him too as I learnt about his remarkable leadership. I have seen his photos and read about him on news papers, magazines and seen him on TV with huge crowd gathered during an interview about his reaction on Romulo's derogative statement about the Igorots. This challenged him to walk up to congress in his native garb, "g-string" in response to Carlos P. Romulo's declaration that Igorots were not Filipinos. This regarded him as "the father of the Cordillera" but he said that such accolade wouldn't be necessary. He uttered in his humble remark that, "It is enough that you will remember me as one among you in this historical moment." He is the man whom we are honoring today on his 15th year death anniversary. The respected man has joined the Creator at the age of 80 in 1998. He handed down a great legacy to his children and grandchildren: the value of education, good teachings and true learning. And the understanding- that in the midst of the struggles in life situations and the rise of social issues, national and global conflicts of modern times- some things like honesty, respect and integrity have to be absolute and uncompromised. -Echoes of Wisdom ************************************************ Who is ALFREDO GAYAGAY LAMEN, SR.? *5th Congress Representative, First District of the old Mountain Province (1961–1965) *First Provincial Governor, appointed and inducted by President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1967) *7th Congress Representative of the lone District of the present Mountain Province (1969–1972) * On June 18, 1966, Republic Act 4695 divided Mt. Province into four distinct provinces, namely: Benguet, Mountain Province, Kalinga-Apayao and Ifugao. ************************************************ In 1953, letter writer Alfredo Lamen caused a stir when he published a controversial quote from Carlos P. Romulo’s book “Mother America,” supposedly defining Igorots as “our wild tribes” and “not Filipinos.” “Let the public be the judge,” he challenged, which was then very important and crucial. Romulo was courting votes to win the Philippine presidency. On the same page was Romulo’s letter to Lamen, saying his observations “may have been open to misinterpretation.” He nevertheless apologized and promised to make the necessary correction. “I deeply regret it,” he says. Fiery letters poured in for several weeks, quickly dividing the writers into two camps: he either misrepresented the Igorot or he was, unfortunately, misinterpreted. One thing was certain, Romulo did not win the vote. -Baguio Midland Courier ************************************************ Bringing the crowd to a full crescendo was the voice of the former governor and former congressman from Mountain Province, Atty. Alfredo Lam-en. Well into his late sixties or early seventies, with a self-described John Wayne profile, Lam-en unabashedly sang out his greetings in Ilokano to protesters using a distinctively Cordilleran chant known as oggayam. Although the chant is often heard at village gatherings in Abra, Kalinga, and Mountain Province, few if any other Baguio attorneys would have been so unabashed in acknowledging their roots. “It is true that we are all Igorots here, even the nun who is the child of Jesus Christ,” chanted Lam-en, to a loud cheer of approval. Calling attention to his own bloodshot eyes, allegedly caused by three sleepless nights after reading the mayor’s remarks, Lam-en used self-directed humor to evoke great laughter. At the same time, he warned protesters in a serious tone not to take the law into their own hands. Revealing the syncretic nature of religion in much of the Cordillera, the former governor stated that the powerful “non-Christian” deity, Kabunian, would deal appropriately with this matter. Lam-en, a cofounder in 1950 of the first Cordillera-wide youth organization that brought together students from all the highlander ethnolinguistic groups, had affectionately been introduced as “no other than our father from the Cordillera.” His closing words, “Mabuhay ang Kaigorotan” [Long live the Igorot], were loudly applauded, suggesting the degree to which the crowd appreciated their dual status as Igorot and Filipino. - Sandati forum (Published on Friday, 9th of March, 2007)

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