Rhyza Gayle Litaoen, Miss Benguet 2016

 

“My dad hails from Bokod, Benguet and my mom is from Tabuk, Kalinga. Cultural heritage – it’s an interesting phenomenon I think. It defines you. It distinguishes you. It sets you apart. I have come to understand the story behind each native dance in Benguet, behind the intricate pattern embedded in the tapis, behind each of the rituals. It’s beautiful.”

 

 

“I also have come to understand the struggles of the indigenous people, especially here in the Cordillera, in their journey to self-determination. Their bravery is remarkable.”

 

 

“I am amazed by how they profoundly cherish their traditions. I am particularly in awe of how they treasure the value of respect – for their parents, for the elders, for those older than they are. It’s just wonderful, and nothing makes me prouder than that as a Cordilleran.”

 

 

What do you find most fascinating about the Cordilleran people?

“I always find it fascinating that Cordillerans are never loud – with what they have, with their accomplishments. That’s another thing I’ll be forever proud of.”

 

 

What one word would you use to describe yourself?

“Resilient.”

 

 

And your words for a good life?

“Don’t always try to impress people. Do things because you want to. For yourself. Or else you’ll end up melting your soul.”

 

 

Interview & Text by RONA LIN

 Photo by RENE PASCUA

 

 

 

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