By: Novelyn Balangui and Claudine Paulino
He lifts his hands up and dances through the rhythm of the gangsa (gong) and the hallow wooden drum-like sound of solibao. He is Brix Baldino. A cultural dancer and a cultural instrument player. He is an Ibaloy.
Ibaloy is one of the indigenous ethnic tribes in the province of Benguet. They are found in the northern part of the Philippines, particularly in the province of Benguet, and some parts of Nueva Vizcaya, and Baguio City.
To unite the Ibaloys, late Cecile Afable founded the Onjon ni Ivadoy,Inc. According to Franklin Cocoy, President of Onjon ni Ivadoy, Inc., the organization was accredited by the Baguio City Government, as well as the Benguet Province. Later in 2019, City Council No. 182 was passed designating portion of Burnham Park, particularly the area between the City Orchidarium and the Children’s Park, as the Ibaloy Heritage Garden. This is the same area where the first Ibaloy Festival was held.
The objectives of the festival are to showcase the Ibaloy culture, to inform the public of a thriving Ibaloy tribe, to invite and encourage all Ibaloys to register as a member of the Unjon Ni Ivadoy, and to attract tourists through the “Marikit ni Ivaloy” a pre-pageant selection for the Miss Ibaloy.
During the festival, a series of activities were conducted such as the grand parade joined by the Ibaloys from different municipalities. There were also Ibaloy Exhibits showcasing the culture of Ibaloys and the history of the Onjon ni Ivadoy Inc. Moreover, the 1st pageant for Marikit ni Ivadoy was conducted which aimed not only to show the beauty but also the values that an Ibaloy has. Through these activities, the festival was filled with a throng of visitors form different places.
Micaella Codovo, psychology student from Pangasinan, said that the festival reminded her to stay proud of the rich Filipino culture.
“Many people are not aware of our rich culture. It is through this festival that help us get informed about this very beautiful and rich culture of the Ibaloys.”
Dexter, a proud Ibaloy said, “I am happy that people from other culture patronized our culture as Ibaloy. I hope though that they won’t see this as an exploitation of our culture but to see it as a showcase of our rich cultural heritage.”
As a cultural advocate, Baldino feels happy and proud. He also admits that he was amazed that there are more to know about Igorot’s culture. He also encourages all Ibaloys to register as a member of the Onjon ni Ivadoy,Inc.
Franklin Cocoy, on the other hand, said that joining the organization will recognize you as an ibaloy. He also said that they can also extend financial assistance among Ibaloys through raising funds from different groups.
“May Ibaloys continue to unite and advocate for our heritage conservation and preservation,” end Baldino.
The First Ibaloy Festival started on March 22, 2019 and culminated on April 22, 2019 at the Ibaloy Heritage Garden, Burnham Park, in Baguio City. The proponent of the First Ibaloy Festival is the Onjon ni Ivadoy,Inc. (Unity of the Ibaloys) in partnership with Cicero Arts Production Incorporated, as the organizer of the event.