Analyn Salvador Amores (1974, Baguio City, Benguet)
Analyn Salvador Amores also known as Ikin is a social anthropologist and an associate professor at the College of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines Baguio. She earned her Bachelor of Arts (1995) and Master of Arts (2002) from the University of the Philippines Diliman; and her masters (2008) and doctorate (2011) degrees in Social and Cultural Anthropology from Oxford University in the UK.
Ikin’s research interest includes non-western aesthetics, endangered languages, material culture and visual anthropology. It has been a decade since she had been conducting anthropological research on the tattoo traditions of the different ethnolinguistic groups in the Cordillera region in northern Philippines. Included in her work is the comprehensive and significant work on Kalinga tattooing published by the University of the Philippines Press, “Tapping Ink, Tattooing Identities: Tradition and Modernity in Contemporary Kalinga Society” (2013). The book is awarded as the 2014 Best Book in the Social Sciences in the 33rd National Book Awards conferred by National Book Development Board and the Manila Critics Circle. Her journal publications have been frequently cited in the work of foreign and local scholars and breaks new ground in the study of Philippine indigenous culture.
The contributions of her research were recognized thru numerous awards: Outstanding Young Scientist in the field of Social Anthropology by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), the highest and most prestigious academic award giving body in the Philippines, and recently conferred as UP Scientist by the President of the University of the Philippines in 2014. In 2015, she was awarded as one of the 30 Outstanding Filipinos, and one of the ten Outstanding Teachers by the Metrobank Foundation Inc.
According to Ikin, her curiosity with tattoos started much earlier than her postgraduate. When she was young, her grandmother, who was a market vendor in the old public market of Baguio City bring her along to sell onions and garlic. Baguio is a melting pot for the different ethnic groups in the Cordillera, and the place to trade and sell goods also brought many people to Baguio. It is in the market where she saw women with tattoos, the intricate markings found on their bodies.
It was surprising that despite the familiarity of people to the fact that Cordillerans have tattoo, only a few extensive research had been done and published about them. Ikin’s research contributed in this manner. As she claims in one televised interview, the point of her doing research is to make visible the women’s role in traditions that were ‘muted’ in literature and history; to break stereotypes—and I take this to mean that she was referring to the misconception that only men are cultural bearers and the negative associations to some groups found in northern Luzon.
Ikin’s advocacy of making visible women as cultural bearers did not end with her research on tattoos. She is currently engaged in research about traditional weaving, in which Cordillera and other indigenous peoples of the Philippines, has a very strong tradition. Her research with textile brought her to an engagement with the local community of Isinay, another ethnic group found in Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya in Central Luzon. Since two years ago, members of the Isinay group have been exerting efforts to revive and promote their linguistic and material traditions and heritage. Through her extensive research on the ikat weaving of the Isinay, this brought pride to the community whose identity was almost forgotten, and have been acculturated to lowland culture. The ikat, was also used as a material evidence in the people’s individual and collective identity as a people, along with the revival of an endangered language. Along with the Isinay elders and experts, Ikin organized cultural exhibitions, language summits, and workshops to work on the orthography of the Isinay language. Her goal was to have the Isinay language taught to the younger generation, and hopefully to reinvigorate it in the coming years.
Ikin is also engaged in the efforts for indigenous education through research. She, along with PRIME and the Institute of Popular Culture at the Ateneo de Manila University, are lobbying that the Philippines’ Department of Education consider a curriculum that is culturally responsive, sensitive to indigenous knowledge and systems, indigenize the curriculum by looking at traditional practices and customary practices. They are proposing that these could be done by training indigenous teachers for teaching indigenous students, capacity building for non-indigenous teacher in teaching indigenous learners, and production of instructional materials based on indigenous knowledge system.
According to Ikin, the most difficult challenge she has to face is when she is asked why is she doing what she is doing; why is she studying these people. For Ikin, the discipline of anthropology taught her that working with indigenous communities matters and there can never be standbys. This is largely motivated by the desire to make a better understanding of these groups free of ethnocentric bias, and to partially to provide solutions to problems besetting indigenous groups.
Ikin with her work as teacher and a field-based anthropologist, is also a mother of two. In most of her fieldwork, she would bring her daughter, Justine and son, Julian to the field to let them experience the work of an anthropologist, and at the same time to let her children learn from the cultural bearers beyond the classrooms. She recalls that elders are very sympathetic of her and her children, and in some cases, the elderly men and women would take care of her kids, while she carries out her research in the field. Her good social relations with the community until now built the trust accorded to her, and has become an adopted daughter in the many communities that she has worked. This carefully built good social relationships, with her “research subjects” as “research collaborators” in a participatory research process.
She continues to carry out solid ethnographic fieldwork among the indigenous communities in the Cordillera, most especially cultures that are endangered and in most need of research and documentation. At the moment, Ikin gets excited about hearing about (re)appearing cultures; the revival of understanding that they (the IPs) are part of (that) culture.
Ikin’s new research on mumbaki
Ikin on fieldwork with her son