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IGOROT UK: A Historical Account of its First Years

From the mountain ranges of the Philippine Cordilleras, they spread like wildfire to find a new life away from the mud and murk of the mountain life.

 |  5 min read

IGOROT UK - From the mountain ranges of the Cordilleras, they spread like wildfire to find a new life away from the mud and murk of the mountain life.
IGOROT UK - From the mountain ranges of the Cordilleras, they spread like wildfire to find a new life away from the mud and murk of the mountain life.

In its former reincarnation, the IGOROT UK was once preceded by an organization called BIBAK UK. BIBAK UK launched in April 1992 with a Cordillera Day (Dap-ayan ti Aldaw ti Kordilyera), an event held in Lymington, Finchley. And Circa 1991- 1995, they held activities similar to what we do these days.

On the 20th of November 1994, they held and an activity called Am among and Liwliwa (gathering and chanting/blessings) in Chestnut community hall in Haringey, London.

BIBAK UK has very close links to WALING WALING, a self-help group of Filipino domestic workers in the UK who were active in the late 1980s and the '90s. Together with the NGO Kalayaan, they were instrumental in campaigning and eventually changing the status of immigration for domestic workers in a way that recognizes their rights and benefits and also turning constraints into opportunities.

Proud to say, some of those were our Igorot brethren living in the UK who paved the way for the next generation to enjoy the benefits we experience these days.

During this time, some BIBAK UK members included non Igorot friends who have similar struggles with campaigns for their immigration status and rights.

Hence, it was deemed necessary to form an Igorot Organisation that would accommodate all interested Igorots, regardless of their immigration status. On the second of September 1995, BIBAK UK had its last event, a gathering for Igorots in the UK at Orford Hall, Walthamstow where it was announced that the Organization will be dissolved to form a new one.

Nevertheless, the continued activism by members of the BIBAK UK brought favorable results, they were successful in their immigration campaign.

After more than 20 years, Igorot house completes the journey from PH to the UK
After more than 20 years, Igorot house completes the journey from PH to the UK

The last BIBAK UK activity was followed by two weeks of actively sending flyers and invites to kakailians. Finally, a meeting was held in Orford Hall on the 17th of September 1995 with the main agenda of organizing a new Igorot Association. Thus, IGOROT-UK was born on the same day, the 17th of September 1995 by about 22 Igorots who responded to the CALL and attended the meeting.

The BIBAK-UK group was dissolved following the creation of the new IGOROT-UK, and its monies and properties were handed over to the newly established organization.

The amount of £320 was then the first fund of the new organization while all other props and costumes were used by the new organization (6 gongs, 16 tapis, 16 belts-bakget, 16 red beads, 42 pieces of bamboo instruments, and many little things which most of it are now nonexistent, even these props mentioned above are not complete as of present).

The Igorot name was derived after a selection/nomination of different names.

The first election was held on the same day. Nominated and unopposed, Mr. Richard Stone Pooten was elected as the FIRST President of IGOROT UK.

The first set of officers circa 1995-1997
  • President
    • Richard Stone Pooten
  • Vice President
    • William Solang
  • Secretary
    • Elvira Langagan
  • Treasurer
    • Florence Doclis
  • PRO
    • Jovita Lawangen Bodner
COMMITTEES
  • Youth
    • Jane Bugnosen
  • Finance
    • Sofia Velasquez
  • Membership
    • Florence Juntilla
  • Education & Culture
    • Joji Carino
  • Social and Programme
    • Linda Khensay
  • Advisers
    • Edmund Bugnosen
    • Romeo Daliling

The first gongs used by the BIBAK UK were improvised pizza pans owned by Mr. Richard Pooten's "RICH's PIZZA" based in TOOTING BROADWAY in the early '90s... and was used most notably during the NOTTING HILL FESTIVAL when the BIBAK UK joined the parade in those years (1992-1993).

The next gongs were donated by the "DKK" (Dapayan ti Kultura ti Kordilyera), an alliance of cultural organizations & individuals in the Cordillera that promotes a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented arts and culture, inspired by the rich heritage of the Cordillera home and culture when they came to the UK to showcase "UWAWI" for a month in October to November 1994. This set is still being used by the Igorot community.

The original IGOROT UK banner was made by hand thru the artistic efforts of Linda Khensay. The banner traveled to different parts of the world and is the only banner that IGOROT UK ever used. It has a life of its own and has witnessed most IGOROT UK activities and performance invites. It has become an 'artefact' of the organization.

The officer's term was agreed to be 2 years and the Election was held anytime from September-November and the Induction program was always done to coincide with the Annual Igorot Christmas Party in December.

Although, there were extensions to the term of officers when Igorot UK accommodated the IIC, the ICBE, and the first Grand Canao and it was for the same reason that since 2011, the order of the customary autumn election was changed to Spring.

The 22 founding members of the IGOROT UK who came to the very first meeting on the 17th of September 1995 were as follows:

  1. Florence Doclis
  2. Julie Maliseg
  3. Conching Pooten
  4. Richard Stone Pooten
  5. Elvie Langagan
  6. Jojie Carino
  7. Geof Nettleton
  8. William Solang
  9. Darna Solang
  10. Carmelita Nanglegan
  11. Carmelita Pumihic
  12. Jovie Bodnar
  13. Marie Borret
  14. Florence Tio Juntilla
  15. Marilyn Domingo
  16. Nellie Comiles
  17. Jane Bugnosen
  18. Simeon Quinopez(+)
  19. Nena Casinto
  20. Teresa Bangsoy
  21. Sofia Cawi Velasquez
  22. Linda Khensay.

Nevertheless, Igorot UK pioneers are not limited to those that attended the very first Igorot UK meeting. Other Igorots have actively participated in its very first events, meetings, and activities and are forerunners in the promotion of its objectives. They too are considered Pioneers.

Since its foundation in 1995, there have been 10 sets of officers. Here is the list of IGOROT UK presidents:

  1. Mr. Stone Richard B. Pooten ( Sept. 1995-1997)
  2. Mr. Edmund Bugnosen (1998-1999)
  3. Mrs. Conchita B. Pooten (2000-2002)
  4. Linda Khensay (2003-2006).
  5. Mr. William Solang (2007-2008)
  6. Mr. Robert Balagtey (2009-2011)
  7. Mrs. Ursula Baido ( APRIL 2011-April 2013)
  8. Mr. Archibald Nabus (2013-2015; 2015- 2017)
  9. Mrs. Juliet Manarin (2017-2019)
  10. Mrs. Theodora Bacquian (2019-2021)

Happy 24th Foundation Day to Igorot UK!

Credits:

  • Benguet UK
  • Igorot.net


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