The Concept of a Global Igorot Nation
By: Patrick McDonough
"Inspirational Talk" Patrick McDonough BIBAK San Diego Christmas Party December 13, 2014 Induction of Officers
Welcome everyone and thanks for the opportunity. Marj and I have been coming to This Christmas Party for thirty years now. I remember when our son was the same age as the kids here today. It is such a pleasure to see the continuity of BIBAK San Diego over the years. I have two thoughts I would like to explain to you independently, and then somehow, I want to try and bring them together, and show how they are related. What I am trying to explain is where I think our culture is going. The first thought I wanted to talk about was the concept of an Igorot Nation, almost like a global Cordillera Autonomous Region that is often talked about. This is the time to consider the concept of one Igorot Nation… All of the Cordilleran people are at a very unique time in history. If you’ve ever read Malcom Gladwell, he writes about social phenomenon. One of his books teaches about socio-cultural tipping points. Tipping points are described as like epidemics, where small changes add up, and have large impacts. Points in time, where some balance changes. And once that balance changes, then social change happens at a very rapid pace. For the first time in our history, we are approaching a demographical tipping point that could change the Igorot psyche. I'd like you to consider the incessant migration away from our villages, over the last 40 -50 years…. people left their village to work in the mines… people went to school or to work in the cities… the many, many people like us who immigrated to other countries. Even the people who simply married someone from the next village, then went there to live. For a long, long time now there’s been this steady flow of people leaving our villages… Those folks had children; and now their children have children. They left the barrios and they multiplied. It has a compounding effect. For the first time in our history we are approaching a point, maybe have even passed the point in some places, where more people who associate themselves as “i-Mainit’s” live outside the village of Mainit; more Kabayan people live outside the village of Kabayan; more Banaue people live outside the town of Banaue than in it. If you take it one step further… eventually will come the time where more people from each village live in a different country. It's happening now . The point is that our Igorot nation is already larger than many people imagine. We’re global. It is an interesting thought. That’s the tipping point. So what does this global Igorot Nation mean for our future?... First it becomes very obvious that the fabric of our culture will be stretched thread bare and influenced by many outside forces. Those forces make it much more difficult to retain an Igorot identity. You can see it already, and those of us a little longer in years, see it most clearly. So we are at this tipping point, where depending on how the pendulum swings, depending on our actions today, our culture either continues to grow, or continues to fade. This provides some daunting challenges, and some great opportunities. One of our major strengths is that no matter where we go we continue to identify ourselves as Igorot. You could argue that our desire to preserve the culture is even stronger. Those of us abroad have to look for the Igorot identity, we have to seek it out, try to remember what it is exactly. It becomes elusive, but we persist, and we consciously try to retain that identity, and teach it to our children. BIBAK San Diego is perhaps one of the largest chapters of its kind. Our children have parents who come from all over the Cordillera, from every province. Yet our children don't see themselves as different. They don't see themselves as coming from one province or another. They see themselves, primarily as Igorot. Looking at themselves as equals. They recognize their tribal heritage, but identify themselves primarily as Igorot. This concept is important...it is the seed for uniting us under one nation. The concept of all Igorots as one nation brings new strength and optimism. An Igorot Nation with many common traits as well as some unique and beautiful differences. This is huge. So how does this relate to BIBAK San Diego? You may remember last year I wrote something about a SD BIBAK General Meeting I attended. It was held at Rohr Park. It was also our Mother’s Day celebration and everybody brought along a dish. Typically the potlucks here are pretty organized. North San Diego, bring seafood, south San Diego bring vegetables, east bring drinks and rice. For this occasion they also purchased a pig so the day started early. At 8:30 am a group of dedicated men showed up at the park with two objectives: One, to butcher up and cook the pig, and , more importantly, to teach the BIBAK youth how to butcher and cook a pig. This effort to teach the youth is huge, this apparently simple act is actually monumental. It takes the education of our youth to the next level. For me, I learned much more about Igorot culture and Igorot values while butchering a pig, than I ever did learning how to dance. The dance is in some ways the celebration of everything that happens while butchering….working together, unity, respect for the “village” or Ato. So when I heard they were teaching the youth something clicked inside me. I knew these kids were going to learn much more than how to wield a knife. But all this happened before I ever even got to the park. As I walked across the field to the trees where BIBAK was gathered it was a pretty busy scene. Over 100 people. The women were busy preparing food and setting the table; a group of men gathered around the grill, stirring the soup; the elders were sitting together on lawn chairs sharing stories; and groups of children, divided by ages, were all around. After eating the BIBAK officers made announcements… When the officers got up to speak to the group this was on the agenda: Listen to this.., • A reminder about the membership drive and letters sent out to every kaili • A collection went around for the youth, who had started an “Adopt a Highway” campaign • A sign-up sheet for the May Camping trip • In July we are hosting a Sportfest and have invited Benguet 13, BIBAK Las Vegas and the Cordillera Inland Empire Group, • Last night of the Sportfest is a concert fundraiser; and everyone is asked to control drinking and be on best behavior for our guests • A calendar of events was referenced, highlighting quarterly general meetings, September Camping, Thanksgiving and Christmas parties • Don’t forget we are starting committees to help plan and implement a Grand Canyao (the Canyao we held this year was very successful, and we should all be so proud. We really showed everybody what a great organization we are. We highlighted our culture. It was a great event.) • Remember at every meeting there will be dance practice for all the youth That is a pretty hefty agenda and an indication of a healthy, thriving and strong BIBAK organization. Afterwards the people broke out into groups. The young men and women broke off from the crowd to socialize. The elders returned to their lawn chairs for more stories. A mixed group of parents turned on the music and started Zumba. Then teenage men, accompanied by fathers and uncles, sat under a group of trees and started practicing Benguet dancing. Another group went to play basketball. And of course, Preston Comafay once again, spent another day teaching young kids how to dance and play the gongs. I am sitting back taking pictures and thoroughly enjoying this whole scene when it hits me. This is so much more than just a BIBAK gathering. This is a whole, fully functioning village! A 21st century Igorot village. A village in this new global nation. San Diego BIBAK is arguably the most active, most organized and most thriving Igorot organization; definitely in the States, possibly even the world. It is the truth. And we should not take that for granted. Nobody does BIBAK like San Diego! So where does that leave BIBAK. How do we tie into the global community? Look around. This is our village. This is it. We are part of the global nation. BIBAK Las Vegas is another village, BIBAK Virginia. Madrid, London. Last year they started BIBAK Moscow. They are all villages. That's what I am trying to say. That's where we are going. Today the Igorot nation doesn't know boundaries. All of us here are more important than ever before. Because of these changing demographics, what we do here represents the entire nation. We make a significant contribution to that nation. BIBAK is more important now than ever before. And in many ways the BIBAK officers are the village elders. They are the glue which holds the village intact. Our council of elders who help provide the credibility and respect we get from all over the world. They serve as dipl
omats with other BIBAKs around the States, and in the international community. I encourage our officers to remain cognizant of this global nation and reach out to organizations. I need to note that I am currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Igorot Global Organization, the IGO. I encourage us all to partner with the IGO because their mission, our mission, is to unite all of these villages to provide strength and unity. Igorots are all about ancestors. We can't forget our ancestors. We got here because of the sacrifice of previous BIBAK leaders. Most of us know the previous torch carriers. Some were the obvious leaders, many more were behind the scenes. Many are in this room tonight. They've carried the torch during this transition. Our Olympic torch. Tonight we get to stand on their shoulders and we move BIBAK San Diego into the future. Being an officer is a lot of hard work. As we induct the new set of officers let's remember their dedication and commitment, from which we all benefit so greatly. Thank you.