Tracing my Igorot Ancestry - Mother's Side

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Above: Grandma Rose and grandkids with Lake Michigan and the Chicago Skyline in the background.
: 3 generations of Sagada Igorots at the SkyDeck entrance, Sears Towers.

My mother came for a short 5-night, 4-day visit at our place here in the northern suburbs of Chicago. On her last evening before flying back to Maryland, I sat down with her to note some of our ancestors' names from her side. It's important to keep these things written. While there are some existing written Igorot genealogies, it is not common. It is up to individual families to document their family trees. I am doing this as my children, as young as they are, are very interested to learn about their family backgrounds.

I am a direct descendant of Pelayan Tarnate Nadnaden, the first mayor of Sagada. His son, Balay-owan, also served as a counselor of Sagada. During his term, Balay-owan, along with other Sagada counselors were invited to a meeting in the mountain of Canip-ao. The meeting turned out to be an ambush set-up by headhunters - the unsuspecting counselors ended up beheaded, no one escaped. Balay-owan's younger brother, Yam-es, identified his body on the basis of one unique feature - one of his foot thumbs overlapped a nearby toe.

Balay-owan had a son named Pednga-en who, like his father and grandfather, became one of Sagada's leaders. His son, Justo, was my maternal grandfather. I remember visiting my grandparents' place when we were young. Their house was in Bang-owaw in Demang, one of Sagada's 4 central barangays. He used to tell me stories during our visits - a particular story series I really liked was that of a mouse named Otot-otot.

My grandfather died when I was in college. My sisters and I came home on the day of his burial. A cousin drove us as his funeral procession was making its way to the church. My sisters and I were amongst those who carried his wooden coffin out of the church. There are no funeral cars in Sagada, so I with a group of male relatives carried his remains to the Sagada town cemetery where he was laid to rest alongside his wife, my grandmother. Her story would be another blog entry though.

We are very blessed to have my mom, a retired schoolteacher, visit her grandchildren here in the US. While my children never got to meet my maternal grandfather, they do know his stories. Like me, they too like the series on Otot-otot.