BIMAAK

Switzerland

Introduction

 

The people who inhabit the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in the northern Philippines are generally called Igorots, which means “people from the mountains”. The Igorots are an indigenous group of people, who differ not only in their dialects but also in their culture and tradition. In the Philippines, the Igorots formed their organization called BIMAAK, which are the initial letters of the former subprovinces of the old Mountain Province (Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Abra, Apayao, Kalinga). In their diaspora, they set up organizations with the same initials and attached the name of the country they live in (e.g. BIMAAK Switzerland). Presently, some organizations are known as BIMAAK to recognize Abra as one separate province and Mountain Province as the new name for Bontoc. The objectives of BIBAK (BIMAAK) organizations are to preserve the Igorot tradition, culture and values; and to reflect their solidarity with and to each other in times of need.

The CAR is the home to the different indigenous people. These tribes are the Iballoys (Ibalois), Kankanaeys and Ikalanguyas of Benguet Province; the Bontocs, Aplay - Kankanaeys and Gaddangs of the old Bontoc sub province which is presently and politically known as the Mountain Province; the Isnegs of Apayao, the Kalingas and the Ifugaos from the same so called provinces; the Tinggians of Abra province, the llongots of Nueva Viscaya and the so called Bagos from the provinces of llocos Sur and La Union. All these tribes are considered indigenous group, because they share a similarity in their tradition and culture. The tribes vary in their local dialects but the tongues they speak are dialects which are related to the Ilocano language. The strong characteristic difference and value of these groups to the other Filipino groups are their dances and costumes, and their strong belief and respect for their ancestors, who built their Igorot world, one of which is the famous rice terraces of Banawe.

 

Background

In Switzerland we Igorots are few in number. In spite of this, it was our long time desire to form an Igorot group in this country, which is our new home and the home of our new family and children. We realized this when we came together on 16 September 2000. We formed a group and agreed to call it BIMAAK Switzerland, just like our counterparts in other countries. BIMAAK is synonymous to organizations of Igorots.

In the past, our costume and dances were represented by other Filipino groups living here in Switzerland. It happened on many occasions that the show and dances the groups presented were not the authentic dances we danced in our home provinces. Very often the costumes were improperly worn. We didn't want that this misrepresentation of our traditional dances and costumes will go on unchecked, thus, it is one of our objectives to present the authentic Igorot image here in Switzerland, a country we call now our second home and where our children are brought up. It is also our duty to pass on to our younger generation the culture and tradition, the way our ancestors did to us. We are proud to show them the authentic Igorot dances, culture and tradition the way we learned it from our elders. To the society and community in which we are now living, we shall act as a resource group to show and give information concerning lgorot culture and tradition (example: film, slides, dialog or interviews). This way we can show the true image of the Igorots.

Through our organization, we share the common objective of every BIMAAK group worldwide, which is to pass on the Igorot heritage and traditions to succeeding generations wherever we are settled and to preserve the uniqueness of our culture while we adapt to our new life and environment.