Thursday, May 28, 2009

Igorots: The People Behind the Name




In many parts of the country, the word Igorot is used as a derogatory term for idiots. In 1958, Even the former representative Luis Hora of the Third District of the Old Mountain sought to prohibit the use of Igorot in a house bill he presented. But what does the word really mean and who are these people who are proud to be called as one.

Dr. Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, a Tagalog scholar in the early 1900s, stated that it was composed of the root word golot, meaning “mountain chain” or “mountain ranges” and the prefix i, meaning “people of” or “dwellers in.”

The fact that golot is a place has still survived in the speech of those “Bagos” living in the outskirts of the Ilocos provinces who are believed to be related to the Igorots. We still hear people say, “Nagapodad Golot” (They came from golot) when people arrive from the mountains.

"The word Igolot, therefore, appears to be perfectly indigenous Filipino origin, and it is in this form that it first appeared in Spanish records. The substitution of R for L in the word did not become popular until the 18th century when Antonio Mozo used the word in his 1763 Noticia Historico Natural changing the letter ‘L’ into letter ‘R’".

There is no record if the people in question called themselves Igorots (or Igolots) in the olden days. It would be more likely that this is what they were called by non-mountaineers in the lowlands. We have no idea if they ever have a collective term than can identify the highland tribes.

The name was imposed on the mountaineers by American Authority in the present century in accordance with the American ethnological surveys. The people of the old Mountain Province (namely Bontok, Ifugao, Benguet, Apayao and Kalinga) started using the term as their unique identity.

Presently, some people from the Cordillera Region refuse to use Igorot as their own identity for they argue that they were never called as such by their ancestors in the first place. And another reason is the derogatory meaning that lowland people associated with the name. Some wanted to be called Cordilleran instead. However, the word Cordillera is not an indigenous but a foreign (Spanish) term. It would then defeat the purpose of identifying the uniqueness of this distinct culture and people. In the first place, they pride themselves unconquered by the Spaniards so isn't using a Spanish term connote defeat.

Igorot is the closest local term to call these unique people. However, even the people it seeks to define are divided. In this writer's opinion, if they therefore can't agree with this name as their collective name, they should find a local terminology that they are all comfortable to use.

So what should be the perfect name to call these distinctive people of these mountain ranges or “golot”?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Igorots: The People Behind the Name

In many parts of the country, the word Igorot is used as a derogatory term for idiots. In 1958, Even the former representative Luis Hora of the Third District of the Old Mountain sought to prohibit the use of Igorot in a house bill he presented. But what does the word really mean and who are these people who are proud to be called as one.

As far as the meaning of the word Igorot itself is concerned, Dr. Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, eminent Tagalog scholar at the turn of the century stated that it was composed of the root word golot, meaning “mountain chain” or “mountain ranges” and the prefix i, meaning “people of” or “dwellers in.”

It probably has the same use with the old tagalog word "golod" found in a 1613 Tagalog dictionary. The fact that golot is a place has still survived in the speech of those “Bagos” living in the outskirts of the Ilocos provinces who are decendants of the igorots. To people who just arrived from the Cordillera Provinces some would still say “Nagapodad Golot” – They came from golot.

The word Igolot therefore appears to be perfectly indigenous Filipino origin, and it is in this form that it first appeared in Spanish records. The substitution of R for L in the word did not become popular until the 18th century when Antonio Mozo used the word in his 1763 Noticia Historico Natural changing the letter ‘L’ into letter ‘R’.

There is no record if the people in question called themselves Igorots (or Igolots) in the olden days. It would be more likely that this is what they were called by non-mountaineers in the lowlands. But they did not call themselves by any other one name either.

The name was imposed on the mountaineers by American Authority in the present century in accordance with the American ethnological surveys. The people of the old Mountain Province (namely Bontok, Ifugao, Benguet, Apayao and Kalinga) started using the term as their unique identify.

Presently, some people from the Cordillera Region refuse to use Igorot as their own identity. Some wanted to be called Cordilleran instead. However, the word Cordillera is not an indigenous but a foreign (Spanish) term. It would then defeat the purpose to identify the culture as unique. Igorot therefore is still the perfect word to call these distinctive people of these mountain ranges or “golot”.