Thursday, April 14, 2005


Uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.
I really love this picture, taken two days ago. The Igorot people are one of the largest indigenous groups in the mountainous region in northern Philippines. My father is Benguet, one of the five tribes who make up the BIBAK group: Benguet, Ifugao, Bontoc, Apayao, and Kalinga.

More on BIBAK here:

One very clear memory I have from our trip in 1984 is the little old 'Lolas' (grandmas) who live at the tops of these mountains and descend daily to shop at the market and run errands. To give an indication of just how tiny these ladies are, my father is only about 5'4" or 5'5". These mountains are VERY steep, and I remember at the age of 12 gasping for air on one particular visit to a house high up on a mountainside. These people are extremely small in stature (the women are generally shorter than 5 feet), but their bodies follow the anthropological model of high-altitude dwellers: a barrel-shaped torso (larger cardiovascular organs for efficient respiration) and short limbs, due to their farming traditions and environment. One aunt in Vancouver told me she could spot mountain-province people a mile away because of their frame. She also mentioned that the "lowlanders" in the Philippines, the type of people more well-known as the 'prototypical Filipino', often poke fun at the northerners because they show up in the searing heat of the rest of the country wearing coats. One other characteristic that I confirm to be generally true of the mountain-province people is that they're on the shy side. Not with family, but a fairly stoic bunch when compared to the extroverted (read: loud) descendents of Spaniards to the south. (My mother being part of the latter group.)

Here's a photo I took at a Filipino party in December. My stepmother is wearing traditional dress, which varies from village to village. Like the Scots, the variances lie in colour and pattern, as all the ones I've seen are made of cotton weave. The lady on the left is wearing a dress commonly seen in the Philippines and other parts of southeast Asia.

fashion show

From the archives, more 'Filipino culture' posts (not in chronological order):

All Things Filipino
The Filipino FedEx Guy
My Canada Includes Accordion Guy
Filipino Christmas Party