June 30, 2010

Albert Ernest Jenks is the Man.

I am currently reading “The Bontoc Igorot” by Albert Ernest Jenks. I'm probably halfway through it. It's a good piece of work about the lives of our forefathers during the early 1900's. Credibility of what's written here is unquestionable because this is a book written by someone who lived among the Igorots for months observing and studying them all the while taking notes. This is not another history book written by a 1990's man about a 1900's people.

This book is more like a memoir, a diary, a record of what Jenks saw and observed during those several months among the Igorots.

Following is an excerpt from the Preface which I honestly can't help but share with you all.

It seems not improper to say a word here regarding some of my commonest impressions of the Bontoc Igorot.

Physically he is a clean-limbed, well-built, dark-brown man of medium stature, with no evidence of degeneracy. He belongs to that extensive stock of primitive people of which the Malay is the most commonly named. I do not believe he has received any of his characteristics,as a group, from either the Chinese or Japanese, though this theory has frequently been presented. The Bontoc man would be a savage if it were not that his geographic location compelled him to become an agriculturist; necessity drove him to this art of peace. In everyday life his actions are deliberate, but he is not lazy. He is remarkably industrious for a primitive man. In his agricultural labors he has strength, determination, and endurance. On the trail, as a cargador or burden bearer for Americans, he is patient and uncomplaining, and earns his wage in the sweat of his brow. His social life is lowly, and before marriage is most primitive; but a man has only one wife, to whom he is usually faithful. The social group is decidedly democratic; there are no slaves. The people are neither drunkards, gamblers,nor "sportsmen." There is little "color" in the life of the Igorot; he is not very inventive and seems to have little imagination. His chief recreation -- certainly his most-enjoyed and highly prized recreation -- is head-hunting. But head-hunting is not the passion with him that it is with many Malay peoples.

His religion is at base the most primitive religion known – animism, or spirit belief -- but he has somewhere grasped the idea of one god, and has made this belief in a crude way a part of his life. He is a very likable man, and there is little about his primitiveness that is repulsive. He is of a kindly disposition, is not servile, and is generally trustworthy. He has a strong sense of humor. He is decidedly friendly to the American, whose superiority he recognizes and whose methods he desires to learn. The boys in school are quick and bright, and their teacher pronounces them superior to Indian and Mexican children he has taught in Mexico, Texas, and New Mexico.

Briefly, I believe in the future development of the Bontoc Igorot for the following reasons: He has an exceptionally fine physique for his stature and has no vices to destroy his body. He has courage which no one who knows him seems ever to think of questioning; he is industrious, has a bright mind, and is willing to learn. His institutions -- governmental, religious, and social -- are not radically opposed to those of modern civilization -- as, for instance, are many institutions of the Mohammedanized people of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago -- but are such, it seems to me, as will quite readily yield to or associate themselves with modern institutions.

I recall with great pleasure the months spent in Bontoc pueblo, and I have a most sincere interest in and respect for the Bontoc Igorot.

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