(An original post first read at baguiocitypeople.com exactly two years ago)
Ahhh! Baguio City, known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines and Haven of the North. Whether you were born and raised here or moved in and settled with your family some ten or twenty years ago, what’s not to like in this awesome place? You have the best weather, beautiful tourist spots, and lovely people who take pride in their culture, heritage, traditions and values. No doubt, YOU LOVE BAGUIO CITY! Then here comes an outsider and you hear something like this, “Uy, taga Baguio ka? Eh di Igorot ka?” followed by a smirk or a grin. Don’t you just love strangling his neck while giving him a lecture on ethnolinguistics, history, migration and not to mention discrimination? Apparently, some people who are from other cities and provinces think that people from Baguio are all Igorots. And while we see nothing wrong in belonging to this diverse and rich group, what becomes so offending is how they picture Igorots and the rest of Baguio people as seemingly naked, barbaric and uneducated. This misconception is just one of the many things that we get from others, fellow Filipinos for that matter.
“How are Baguio people perceived by others?” I started asking myself. So I interviewed several friends, colleagues and former students if they had similar encounters and experienced being misjudged. Their stories ranged from funny, embarrassing and purely saddening. Here is what they have to say.
“Ma’am I people here in Manila refers to us Baguio inhabitants as “taga bundok” Hahaha. To which I just wittingly reply “excuse me, taga Plateau”. – Angelo Marasigan
“Some people think that just because we’re from Baguio, we are immune to the cold and if we show any genuine sign that we’re freezing our behinds, they go, “Kala ko taga-Baguio ka? Wala ka pala eh!” And there is never-ending inquiry on where in Baguio can they score some weed.” – Pao Tolentino
“Upon learning that I’m from Baguio, people would shoot the usual question: Di ba maraming marijuana dun? Puwede pag-uwi mo dun kuhanan mo kami?” It’s as if they’re just planted everywhere.” – Joyce Mallari
“Taga Baguio ka? Eh di kumakain ka ng aso?” – Ritz Baluscang
“People looked at Baguio people as promdi. They also usually ask me to buy them raisin bread.” – Edgardo Santos Co
“They think we are all Igorots. And that Igorots are jungle people talaga!” – Deia Pe Benito
“Saan po ang jeep/sakayan papuntang Banawe Rice Terraces?” They thought Banawe is in Baguio. – Joey Simsim
“Taga Baguio ka noh?…. nakabahag ba ang mga Igorot dun? Ang mga Igorot mga maiitim na kulot di ba?” People asked in a teasing manner and it irks me and so I tell them that Igorots are more beautiful, smarter and way better than them.” – Carla Mangila
“Ang mga taga Baguio ay hindi naliligo kasi malamig.” – Iam Garcia
“Highlanders.” – Mau Victa
“Maraming naghahanap ng strawberry taho. They assume strawberry is from here and not La Trinidad.”- Evita Lynn Ongchangco
“Uyy, taga Baguio ka. Mahilig ka sa strawberry? They think strawberries grow along the roads and you can just pick and eat them anytime. At ang pinakamalabo, palagi ka ba sa Mines View? I mean …whaaaaat?”– Don Bernard Damasco Ty
“Ang mga taga Baguio ay sanay sa lamig at akyatan – na hindi tayo puwedeng lamigin at mapagod.” – Dianne Palisoc
“Some people think that Baguio is where the Aetas came from.” Tinker Yu
“Taga Baguio ka? Paturo sumakay ng kabayo?” – Arnold Bacarro
“When I first moved down to Manila, people were always so surprised at how well I spoke English. They were always commenting on how they thought that people from the “Bundoks” had thick accents and spoke pidgin english. Honestly after the initial wave of annoyance, I started looking at it in a different way, I actually started taking satisfaction from their shocked faces, because honestly, one of the best feelings ever is when you prove someone else wrong. I mean come on, Just because I’m from Baguio it doesn’t mean that I can’t speak perfectly straight English.” – Santiago Ramon Herrera
Do these scenarios look similar to you? How do you feel when others think of you this way too? I am not originally from Baguio. In fact I am a true Ilokana whose roots are from La Union but I grew up in Tuba, Benguet and had my early education there. But on a regular basis we would be relaxing in Burnham Park, eating in 456 Restaurant or Ganza Restaurant, buying at Hill Top and Sunshine Grocery so the city is never a stranger to us. I remember when I was young and every time we go home to the province, my relatives would often tease “Ney, simmalog met dagiti taga bantay!” “Puro sayote ken patatas ti sidsidam?” and being the smart-mouth I was as a kid, I would reply “Saan uncle, I also eat broccoli, asparagus, carrots, cabbage, hotdogs, ham and fried chicken.” I will never understand why it’s such a joke to them that I came from the mountains. In 2002, I permanently moved in the city and eventually started my own family here. Since then I have embraced the way of life here and I knew that Baguio will be my second home. So it also hurts me when Baguio people are looked down as if we are less of a Filipino.
I believe that in order to deal then with these misconceptions, it is high time that Baguio People would stand out and show the whole world who we really are. Focus on highlighting our strengths and getting rid of practices that puts shame on this beloved city. So the next time, other people would try to stereotype you, you can look them in the eyes and say “For your information, ganito kaming mga taga- Baguio!”