My Land, My People

I am an Igorot. I am descended from what used to be one of the most warlike head-hunting tribes in the mountains of Northern Philippines. According to history and anthropology journals, the Igorots were always at war with other tribes who made the rugged Cordillera mountain range their home. It was this warlike nature that kept the Igorots from being conquered by the Spanish colonizers who ruled the Islands for more than four centuries.

Through the years, however, my people were eventually subdued — not by force of arms but by change. Roads were built, encroaching deep into the mountain heartlands, bringing along with them the schools, the churches, and a new lifestyle.  The schools taught the young to harness the power of their intellect, moulding them into people who eventually understood and appreciated the meaning of peace, law, and the value of respect for other people. The churches introduced the people to the man dying on the cross, to the meaning of self-sacrifice for the good of others.

But what hasn’t change was this love for independence, for freedom. This was, however, a freedom borne out of love for the land, for the mountains with its forests and streams. This was a kind of freedom forged through lifetimes of stewardship with the land, that since the land is free, then so must be those who derive their lives from it.  Every rock, every tree, every terraced sloped grown with palay and yam — all had significant part in the psyche of the Igorot.

Its funny, though. I am descended from this people, yet why am I so scared of dentists?

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