The Honors Society Devote: Redefining What an Elder is

Being called as old often irritates people since it gives off a feeling of being weak and not needed. But this is not true. Elders are essential and respectable people needed in a society. They are key people needed for development.

To indigenous people, being called as an elder in a community is far from just being old. Discover what are the honors and responsibilities of holding the title as an elder really means.

In the Cordilleras, being an elder means holding considerable skills and honorable knowledge. This is among the reasons why Igorot communities highly respect the elders; since elders are the keepers of indigenous knowledge and skills that are handed down from our ancestors or experienced by the elders themselves. Despite it being seen as a mere belief by other people who are not members of the community, these knowledge and skills are often very practical. Thus, it can be readily applied to real life situations and help in times of crisis.

In a study by Felicidad B. Lunas titled ‘‘Communication Roles of Elders in the Development Process among the Kankanaey and Bago Tribes of Bakun, Benguet’’ it was found that the main criteria used for considering elders were age, knowledge about the local culture, and respect from the community.

It clearly stated that it is not only the age that makes one to be called an elder. The knowledge and experience is necessary; and the respect is also of utmost consideration.

The presence of elders is also practically required in all family and community situations in the locality latter stated. The findings of the study also showed that in each situation where elders are called, they act as adviser, mediator, listener, and traditional healer.

The study also found that elders carried out their communication roles by performing rituals and giving advice through chants, native prayers, stories, and experiences. They do not merely sit and listen, they are people who delves deep and keeps being in action.

In the tungtung system of most highland communities, elders are also the key stakeholders for they wield the knowledge and experience necessary to be able to manage conflict effectively.

It is also noted in the study that the participation of the elders is highly perceived to be beneficial to community development. It is evident that they are not treated as weak or useless. Instead, they are looked up to as knowledgeable, experienced, and strong – not at all what you expect of someone who is old.

Our perception of old or elderly people has greatly changed through time, it is high time that we look back and see the real value of what that elders are. They are not all weak or dependent people. They are a strong and essential figure that greatly helps to keep the society intact.

‘‘Haan nga masapul nga ilimed mo ti tawen mo. Aminem nga ag-ed-edad ka ta haan dayta nga kababain nu diket gloria a mangibagbaga nga adu en ti naaramid mo (It is not necessary that you keep your age as secret. Admit that you are aging for that is not a shame but a glory saying that you have done/achieved a lot),’’ said Lola Samin, a resident of La Trinidad, Benguet who is considered as an elder in their community. She further added that she is proud and feels honored to be called as an elder and does not consider it to be derogatory. #VictoriaMagastino_Ethnic/IP

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