Why link ‘Igorot,’ ‘lumad’ to Reds, Baguio council asks NCIP | Inquirer News

Why link ‘Igorot,’ ‘lumad’ to Reds, Baguio council asks NCIP

/ 05:02 AM March 23, 2023

BAGUIO CITY—Surprised that even the term “Igorot” was associated with communist rebels, the city council has summoned an official of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to explain what appeared to be a new policy.

The council on Monday opened an inquiry into a 2021 video post showing NCIP Commissioner Gaspar Cayat, who discouraged people from using the terms “Igorot,” “lumad” and “Tumandok” when referring to indigenous peoples (IPs) of the Cordillera and those in communities in the Visayas and Mindanao, said Councilor Arthur Allad-iw.


The video showed the NCIP official cautioning his audience that these terms were “the very words being used by the CPP-NPA-NDFP (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) or the communist terrorist groups” to identify IP communities in these areas.

Cayat, in the video, said the Igorot, lumad and Tumandok were “not included in the [list of] 101 … indigenous peoples” in the country.


He made the pronouncement during the launch of the NCIP’s Epanaw set of coffee table books at a mall here on March 21, 2021.

The video continues to circulate on social media, Allad-iw said. He said associating “Igorot” with the communist rebellion has delivered “a chilling effect” on different groups in Baguio and the Cordillera.

‘Not policy’

The council invited Cayat to shed light on the controversy in a resolution sponsored by Allad-iw and fellow Councilors Fred Bagbagen, Peter Fianza, Isabelo Cosalan Jr., Edwin Hilario (who also uses his clan name Bugnay) and Jose Molintas. These councilors are either Kankanaey or Ibaloy, which are among the major IP groups in the region.

In an interview on Wednesday, lawyer Atanacio Addog, the NCIP Cordillera director, said Cayat’s opinion was not policy being advocated by his agency.

“Igorot is what we call ourselves collectively in the Cordillera, except in Kalinga province, where many people refer to themselves as Kalingas, or Ifugao province, where residents call themselves Ifugaos,” Addog said, noting that “many still wish to call themselves Igorot in general.”

The council cited the late historian William Henry Scott and his 1974 book, “The Discovery of the Igorots,” when it stressed that “Igorot was a general term used to refer to people from the Cordilleras [to include] Isneg, Kalinga, Bontok, Ayangan, Tuwali, Kalanguya, Kankanaey, Iwak, Karao, Tinguian, Balangao and Ibaloy who successfully resisted assimilation into the Spanish Empire.”

Cayat described “Igorot” as a slur coined by the country’s colonizers.


“Igorot to the Spaniards simply means savage, backward and uncivilized people … Lumad is a Visayan term referring to a native of a certain place, [while] Tumandok is a word [referring to] a collective group of people in the Visayas,” he said in the video post.

Rise in abuses

The council has been pushing for a human rights environment in the city, citing the rise in Red-tagging and other abuses committed against local human rights activists.

On March 6, the body backed all pending congressional measures that would protect the country’s “human rights defenders.”

Introduced by Fianza, Molintas and Bagbagen, the resolution supported three House bills (House Bill No. 00077, House Bill No. 00256 and House Bill No. 02484) and a Senate Bill No. 179, “which would define and recognize the rights of [human rights defenders], support their work and participation in promoting human rights, and protect their rights as defenders.”

Fianza, chair of the council’s committee on laws, said versions of these bills were pushed as early as 2008 as attacks against activists worsened.

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