Baguio City, Philippines. Igorot, a name that has many faces. Their unique traits are different from those who have lost their culture and customs to the western world. People who are uninformed of their history branded them as ignorant and backward and the name Igorot became a derogatory term for stupid people. Even some of those who are related to the name have changed it into something else. Many shunned using it to avoid the mockery.

One brave young man came out to join a talent search that will be scrutinized by millions and boldly put in his Igorot lineage. Although Marky Cielo is half Igorot and has spent years away from the Cordilleras, he courageously used the already humiliated term and faced the challenge the world will throw at him. True enough, using the name of his origin gave him the expected ridicule, and the famous remark, “he should be eliminated because he’s an Igorot” came out. He stayed to the end of the competition not only to win but to educate these uninformed people of his unique origins.

His forefathers fought for freedom and independence against a European race that wants to enslave them. And while the rest of the country had been colonized, the Igorots fought losing many lives but they never lost their independence. They also defied the American colonizers when they hide the Filipino revolutionary leader in their midst. And when their existence was once again threatened by the waves of hardened armies of Samurai descents, they united and prevailed that even the great country of America was awed by their courage. They fought for their freedom and cultures and they were able to preserve it that up to the present these people still have their own unique culture and identity. Yet not everyone admired them for the courage they’ve shown.

These are the people Marky represented. He may have fought in a different battlefield our forefathers faced but with a similar goal. In the end, he taught not only the uninformed but also us, his kinsmen. He brought us back what many have taken for granted, the courage to fight for our unique culture and identity, and the power to unite as one to defeat all the odds. We united to back him up and he won.

But what he won is not just a place in the world of showbiz. He won for all of us a place in the limelight of the real identity of the Igorots. He inspired us to keep fighting and keep teaching the world what we really are. This is his legacy. His memory will remain not only to his fellow Igorots but to all of the people who saw and heard of this young man’s talents and courage both on and off the camera. Carl Cariño Taawan