Sunday, October 17, 2010

Igorot Gump

A recent sound byte from the movie, “Forrest Gump,” that led to my earlier “Balut Meets Chocolate,” resurfaced again when I watched the movie with my family last night.  Prior to watching the movie, my daughter asked me to help her understand the instructions of one of her homework assignments.  The assignment asked her to list and write about the attributes of a novel she read. 
After explaining what an attribute is, we sat down in our living room and watched the movie.  As we watched, I began noticing particular attributes of the character, Forrest Gump.  These were things I overlooked the first time(s) I watched the movie fifteen years ago.
First, was his ability to know what a real friend is.  It struck me that out of all those hundreds (maybe thousands) of people who cheered him on, followed him, put him on a pedestal and presumably called him their friend; only three turned out to be his real friends: Bubba, Lieutenant Dan and Jenny.   It got me thinking about my kids, their generation and today’s dilution of the meaning of a friend.
With Facebook and all the social networking going on, it seems more and more people are either subconsciously or consciously measuring themselves by the number of friends they have.  Just look at how many Facebook profiles have thousands of friends and how so many people are “spamming” others to become their friends just to get their numbers up.
I became concerned about my children’s ability to discern for themselves the true meaning of a friend, and later addressed this with them.  I basically told them that real friendships require real “actual” personal involvement and urged them not to get caught up in society’s web of lies.   This led to thoughts about the BIBAK organization in Chicago that I recently was elected President.
At last Sunday’s gathering and jam session with Igorot friends, someone asked me what my plans for BIBAK are, and I replied with some ideas, but I was really thinking of something else.  I was thinking about the need to get together more often as families (like what we were doing then). 
I always noticed how Filipinos here in America are generally not as close to each other as other ethnic groups.  The Chinese have their China towns; the Koreans have their Korea towns; the Mexicans and other ethnic groups have much closer knits with each other than what I have observed with Filipinos.  However, I must say that I have experienced much better knit groups amongst Igorots.
It seems so far that we tend to be closer to each other (generally speaking) than other Filipinos.  There is less of the competition and “keeping up with” that I have observed with Filipinos in the forty some years living in America.  I suspect it has to do with our culture and social structure in the Cordilleras.
This leads me to Forrest’s second striking attribute: his ability to not worry about what society and the world around him was thinking and doing.  The Vietnam era was a very confusing and difficult time for many, yet Forrest just did what Forrest did.  He was himself.  Not swayed by the political and social currents of the time, Forrest had no need to build himself up to be accepted or keep up with others.
My other blog, “Igorots of Character,” is being interpreted by some as just that: a way of getting Igorots to be as equals as the rest of the world; a way to overcome the discrimination or so-called oppression Igorots back home have had to endure and continue to endure.  If so, these people are wrong.
The last thing I want to advocate is the need to achieve stature, accolades, notoriety and such for the sake of telling the world we Igorots are equal and/or better at something.  I have met many people (Filipino and American) who have achieved fancy letters at the end of their names, high positions in companies & politics, PH D's and Doctorates.  However, many of these people have the character and moral fiber of a Sponge Bob.  Their big achievements were motivated for selfish reasons.  To clarify, "Igorots of Character" is about featuring the good hearted Igorots who chose to do good for others for the sake of doing good.  

Why do we need to even feel the need to keep up with anyone?  Why can’t we just be like Forrest Gump and be content with being the person we are created to become?  Forrest was given certain gifts, of which, he used to directly and indirectly help others.  Shouldn't we also identify our own individual gifts and apply them to the best of our ability for the betterment of others?
Close your eyes and try imagining Forrest wearing nothing but his wanes (bahag or g-string).  Now picture him sitting down on that same bus stop bench with his box of chocolates.  The first lady he encounters, the black lady, immediately drops her magazine and can’t keep her eyes off his almost naked splendor.  Now picture him on a bus with discriminating Filipino kids on the bus.  Instead of the boys saying, “Seat taken,” they say, “No tails allowed.”  Then, he befriends a beautiful girl from Bontoc.  Later he becomes the only football player with helmet, shoulder pads, jersey and nothing but his wanes flapping in the wind as he blows by his opponents on the football field.  His opponents freeze and don’t know whether to be amazed by his speed or his sneering butt cheeks.  Oh, can’t forget his military experience.  Picture him on the American tanks leading the U.S. Army through the thicket of jungle to defeat the Japanese as General MacArthur looks on with awe.  Later, President Johnson awards him the Medal of Honor and asks where Forrest was shot, and of course, Forrest turns and flips his wanes up to expose his baataaacks.   Shrimp boat?  Well, let’s just say Bubba forgot to mention, "Shrimp bagoong."    
Yeah, you know where I’m going with this. . . Igorot pride?  How about just being an “Igorot Gump.”


  1. LOL! What a sense of immagination you have Rexcrisanto! I found the message here inspiring, but I really enjoyed the thought of an Igorot Gump movie. The lady sitting next to him on the bench with her eyes is actually a picture I remember of a white turist sitting on a bench next to an Igorot wearing his gstring in Manila or Baguio. Very funny!

  2. Dude, where do you get your ideas? It's hilarious how you paint the picture of the guy in football pads with only his g-string! I hope he is wearing a cup support to protect his longanisa and huevos. Seriously though, I don't know if you know many surfers there on the mainland but they are the best kind of people in my opinion because we ARE like this Gump guy. We are who we are and don't try being like your general decription of Filipinos. To the natives in Hawaii, these competition and keeping up with others are the ways of the haoles (the puraw). You can even know who the true surfers are in the workplace by how geniune they are. G-string flapping in the wind across the football field - too funny brah!

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  5. Jermaine Malubay EnerioJanuary 5, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    hi ! i've just recently judged the first-ever Mr and MS Earth Bauko upon the invitation of my friend who hails from your beautiful town. I was totally captivated by the beauty of your place and of course the warm hospitality of my new Igorot friends! GOD bless...
    facebook: Jermaine Malubay Enerio , professor,Lyceum of the Phillipines Unversity Manila


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