Uncontacted Tribes at the Amazon

Friday, May 30, 2008

These are pictures of a tribe in the Brazilian Amazon that have not yet been contacted by the outside world. These are in display at the Survival International website. I never would have thought that there are still un-contacted tribes in the world. There appears to be more than 100+ of these. I stand to be corrected on this one.

My questions would be: what should the outside world do in this case? Should they remain un-contacted? If these tribes are under threat of illegal logging and disease, wouldn't it be to their best if they are to be warned in some way? My take is - since contact is inevitable anyway, it should be done in a very gradual and almost natural process. Not an easy thing to do, but it has to be done. I hope the involved national governments approach this with caution and utmost sensitivity. I think that these times are way better to make contact with un-contacted tribes than say, hundreds of years ago. Case in point is how the Spanish and the English dealt with North American tribes or in a similar case, tribes in the Philippine archipelago.

The photographs accompanying article states:

"Members of one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes have been spotted and photographed from the air near the Brazil-Peru border. The photos were taken during several flights over one of the remotest parts of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil’s Acre state.

‘We did the overflight to show their houses, to show they are there, to show they exist,’ said uncontacted tribes expert José Carlos dos Reis Meirelles Júnior. Meirelles works for FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s Indian affairs department. ‘This is very important because there are some who doubt their existence.’ ..."

Read the full article at the Survival International website.


Igorot Slur on a Filipino Blog

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I was searching the latest blog entries on "Igorots" and the above was what I found at the blog of a Filipina named Francesca. I couldn't believe my eyes! I re-read the post, and was hoping that it was a typo - it was not! To the author, "igorot" meant someone who didn't understand. So I commented on her blog saying that I was offended by her remark regarding Igorots. I also requested if she can correct the error.

To her credit, she did admit that she was indeed ignorant on Igorots and that "No harm intent". However, she said that she wasn't changing anything. I emailed her requesting if she can re-consider my request on changing that particular comment. In a most cordial manner, I informed her that she was being prejudiced and it was just right that she correct it. She replied back that she's not changing anything, and I quote "If people do not like what you say, they just go somewhere else, Go fishing, or visit other blogs. Im thinking of shooting myself instead. (Wink)"

Incredible! A few years back, Filipinos around the world reacted when a dictionary defined "Filipina" as a "domestic helper". That's definitely a slur. Now here's a fellow Filipino who is looking down on an entire Filipino ethnic group, and refuses to correct a comment she obviously made in ignorance. Where in the world is she coming from? Is it lack of proper education or manners? Maybe ignorance of a blogger's responsibility? Or is it simply being stubborn?

In the late 1990s, actress Lucy Torres-Gomez's character in an ABS-CBN TV show, said that another character's weirdo-ness was attributed to her father being an Igorot. A letter I made to the Inquirer denouncing that comment was made into an article, and eventually, Lucy Torres-Gomez was summoned to Congress where she was made to offer an explanation. ABS-CBN also provided written apologies saying that there was no intent to demean, and that they'll ensure that it will not happen again in future shows.

I'm not demanding an apology from the blogger - she seems to have made her mind about not changing anything even if it is the only right thing to do. If there's a lesson to be learned from this, its the fact that some Filipinos still think that the word "igorot" is a negative word. If I need to keep on writing on this blog to correct that misconception, so be it.

Visit Francesca's Blog from this link.


Fellow Igorots who have made commentaries on this:

Call of Nature
Glorife Sayang-od


Sagada and Drugs

Friday, May 23, 2008

Photo Credit: AllPosters.com

"One traveller I met managed to occupy himself for almost two weeks in Sagada. Superficially I wonder how anyone wouldn't become terribly bored spending so long here; but after a few minutes of pensive, lethargic, delayed conversation with him, I realised that substances can play a role in keeping Sagada interesting. There is a rumor here about an expat who supplies the town with certain baked goods... perhaps that is why the people are so pleasant to get along with, but laid back to the point that in restaurants one must go to the counter to get service."
The above quote from one of Fatduck's Sagada entries at his TravelPod blog suggests that drugs has something to do with (a) keeping Sagada interesting, and (b) the pleasantness of the people.

Sadly, Sagada and drugs is a reality. As a teenager, I saw a couple of adult neighbors roll and smoke marijuana before my eyes. I'll be a hypocrite to say that I've never tried it; for out of curiosity and some teenage rebellion, I tried the substance once - and that was that. I was blessed to had some guidance from my folks to stay away from drugs, and not even to consider them at all. It's not the case for some i-Sagada. I know a couple of guys who are doing prison sentences having been convicted of drug dealing. I also remember a month when Sagada was the target of drug bust operations from the country's National Bureau of Investigation. Checking my website traffic report, I saw a hit coming from a browser in South Korea searching for "Sagada and drugs".

From the outside, Sagada's drug problem looks controlled and contained within a very small group. However, it is still a problem that needs to aggressively dealt with if Sagada is to remain amongst one of the better destinations in the country. It would be good to see both the local government and businesses working together on this. In the long run, a drug-free Sagada, will benefit the locals the most.

Having said that, drugs has nothing to do with keeping Sagada interesting or the attitude of the locals. Almost all visitors including Fatduck enjoy the place because of the natural high a stay in this town offers. Locals are pleasant and easy to get along with as with any other tourist town in the world. To suggest otherwise is just not right.


Igorot & Sagada Artwork by Danny Borja

Monday, May 19, 2008

I first met Mr. Borja when I was in high school (many decades ago, hehehe). His eldest, Percy, was a ka-barkada; his wife is the first cousin of my first cousins (go figure!). He did some of the artwork that decorates a Sagada establishment, plus he organized one of the first martial arts classes in Sagada.

I also had the pleasure of attending one of his art exhibits during my college years - if I remember right, it was in Malate, Manila. It is great to see him display some of his artwork on his blog for the world to see. My favorites are the ones below: an untitled landscape of Sagada, and Last of the Igorot Warrior.

Visit his blog at Danny Borja. More power po sa inyo!


Sagada Bands

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm not musically inclined. But most of i-Sagada (people from Sagada) are. My dad was not blessed with a good voice, but I heard he was very good in musical instruments. One of my most vivid memories of my grandmother was when she sang to us when we were kids, and how she used to do it alone while putting finishing touches on her Sagada Weaving products. Sadly though, I didn't get any iota of their musical inclination.

I remember people breaking out into community singing during events. There were a couple of concerts which even I joined in when I was a kid. There's also plenty of songs in the Sagada culture, from wedding medleys to dirges. And other than the normal lullabies, there's the "tek-tek-tek abi-yay-o" that scared a child to sleep. I remember spontaneously transforming this chant into a rap medley with some buddies after going home one quiet Sagada night.

Growing up, I've heard the most heartfelt country music songs sang at bonfires. With the many tourist establishments sprouting up like mushrooms after a June shower, the inevitable happened - Sagada bands are forming. Below is a sampling of the Sagada band, Dap-ayan, with "kordilyera eeyah".

(Video Credit: Biyaheng Pinoy)


Digital Photographer's Sagada Pictures

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It doesn't get much better than this. Very nice quality pictures at the "S A G A D A : the highland hideaway" Gallery. View all the pictures at the Digital Photographer Philippines website.


The Lost Boys of Sagada

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The PCIJ (PHILIPPINE CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM) has an article on Sagada Guides. Written by Danilova Molintas, the first lines resembles that which you read from romance novels, but over-all, it is a pretty good read. It takes a hard look on the life of several Sagada guides. I just don't recognize the photo of the town center / church in the article. I've never seen that in my lifetime. And I'm 30+.

"The Lost Boys of Sagada

The young men who grew up in the midst of Sagada’s tourist rush have fallen to the temptations of easy money, easy women, and what seemed for many years an easy life.

M—'S EYES are closed, but the rest of his bronzed, chiseled features are tight and tense. His heavy, muscular frame, sprawled on a rough-hewn bench of thick pine slabs, seems suspended on his big-boned hands that are desperately grasping a little homemade bong. His thick lips suck furiously on a small bamboo pipe stuck into a disposable plastic water bottle filled to a fourth with water, now swiftly turning green.

There are other ways to smoke hash, and faster ways to get a high. But smoking this circuitous way assures M— that his throat wouldn’t feel raspy, especially after all the smoking he knows he would be doing in the next six weeks.

The full article is available here: http://www.pcij.org/i-report/6/sagada.html


Sagada's Wild Horses Online

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's true. Howie Severino's wild horses in Sagada documentary was posted on his blog. The documentary can be viewed in 3 10-minute YouTube clips. Amazing.

Check out the full version of "Saan Sa Sagada?"


Wild Horses? In Sagada?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Photo from Howie Severino's Blog

I lived in Sagada for most of my growing up years and I never heard of such a thing. Then, a friend told me in college about a place in Sagada called Marlboro Country where the wild horses roam. I didn't think much about it until I saw Howie Severino's blog post and how he had made it a personal quest to look for these animals. Too bad I'm not in the Philippines when this documentary was aired on April 28. But I'm glad they were caught on tape, something to refer to in future years to come.