“Improvement of the Race”


Before: the Igorot in the village chewing betel nut? haha


After:  being groomed in a hair salon 😀







A young Igorot farmer, dubbed as the “Carrot Man” has recently become an overnight sensation in Philippine social media. He was working on a farm in Bauko, Mountain Province, when two traveling tourists from Manila spotted him by the roadside carrying a basket full of carrots. Captivated by his charming looks, they snapped several photos of him which they posted on Facebook “for everyone to admire”.

Carrot-Mancarrot man photos - Jeyrick Sigmaton 2Carrot-Man-Jeyrick-Sigmaton


Unanticipatedly, his photos went viral and social media went abuzz over a very ‘good-looking’, industrious man from the Cordilleras. Netizens started to wonder and search for this young man’s whereabouts and identity. They likened his looks to a number of Asian celebrities.

Vic Zhoujeyrickcarrotman&KoreanactorsKorean actor Jang Geun Suk

The young man was soon identified to be Jeyrick Sigmaton. Jeyrick happens to be from my hometown. It is a usual practice in my hometown that after the heavy tasks of planting and harvesting rice, farmers may travel to other municipalities to look for temporary jobs. This was what Jeyrick was doing in Bauko Municipality when he was spotted by the tourists who took his photos.

For several days, the “Carrot Man” was trending on Philippine social media that television networks competed in a bid to interview him. The television network that won the bid traveled all the way from Manila to search for him in his far-flung mountain village in Ogo-og, Barlig.

Carrot Man Jeyrick Sigmaton on KMJS photo

On February 28, a popular TV show aired an episode about the Carrot Man wherein an anthropologist and a historian were invited to comment on the Carrot Man phenomenon. The TV host, Jessica Soho, reported that good-looking Igorots with aquiline noses, like Jeyrick, are the product of intermarriage between Igorots and American and British priests and missionaries who arrived in the Mountain Province in the early 1900s. The historian, Dr. Jimmuel Naval from the University of the Philippines, backed the TV host’s story as he stated that the ‘Caucasian’ features of some Igorot people was brought by Anglican missionaries who intermarried with Igorot natives resulting to an “improvement of the race” of the indigenous Igorots. Many Igorots and non-Igorots alike were disturbed by these preposterous and inaccurate statements coming from a multi-awarded journalist, and a University of the Philippines professor of history.

I normally would not involve myself with whatever the social media is going crazy about, so it took me some thinking whether to write this blog post about the “Carrot Man”. The fascination towards this young man from my hometown has brought to the surface enduring and prevalent issues confronting the Filipino psychology, sense of identity and history.

First of all, contrary to Dr. Naval’s statement, Jeyrick and others who look like him, are not necessarily Caucasian-looking. People like Jeyrick, who have aquiline nose, are everywhere in Igorotland and in other Asian countries, and these people do not necessarily have Caucasian ancestry.

Below, on the left side with a black and white shoes, was my father as a young man in 1952. He had a lighter skin color and an aquiline nose. Just like his parents who had the same features as him, he could pass as a Caucasian, but could as well pass as a Japanese or even Chinese, or indigenous Taiwanese. He is of pure Igorot stock.


The point being, there is nothing wrong with having a mixed bloodline and looking like a ‘Caucasian’ with aquiline nose and fair-colored skin. But at the same time, there is also absolutely nothing wrong with having a “pure” Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Asian, Filipino ancestry with a flat, broad nose and brown skin color. The professor from the University of the Philippines seemed to be uninformed of the fact that people with aquiline nose exist in every race, and we do not need to have a Caucasian ancestry in order for our race to be considered “improved”.

Secondly, both Jessica Soho and Dr. Naval’s claims that western missionaries intermarried with Igorots in the early 1900s is historically unproven. In my hometown of Barlig, and in other municipalities in the Mountain Province, it is unheard of that a western missionary ever married a local woman. If the historian, Dr. Naval, has read history books about the Mountain Province, he would have known that there was not such an intermarriage as he claimed. The missionaries who came to the Mountain Province usually came from two countries: United States and the Netherlands or Belgium. The Catholic priests were not allowed to marry, so even in theory, it would have not been possible for them to intermarry with the locals. The Anglican missionaries, on the other hand, according to history books, brought along their wives. There has never been an Anglican mission in Barlig where Jeyrick comes from.

In my hometown, specifically, we have the oral tradition of ub-ufok and ug-ukud where the elders can orally recite our intricate genealogy and tribe’s history from the day our town was starting to be inhabited. These oral genealogists and historians even remember the very personal names of our early ancestors – the first settlers in our hometown. Nowhere in this oral recitations of genealogy was it ever mentioned that someone from our tribe married a Caucasian missionary. A record of such intermarriage was clearly absent both in history books written by scholars and in our genealogy as accounted by our oral historians.

It is strange for a history professor from a renowned university to say that having an aquiline ‘Caucasian’ nose means “improved” race.

It is surprising that a historian, who is looked up to as having authority over his subject matter, goes on to make an erroneous claim about the history of an ethnic group he has not studied.

I guess the real issue here stems from the long-standing and popular notion among many Filipinos regarding the identity and physical features of the Igorot people. For hundreds of years, from generation to generation, the Filipino majority maintained the notion that the word ‘Igorot’ refers to having dark-skin, thick-lips, flat nose, curly-haired barbaric tribes who wear g-strings as their normal everyday clothing. And so when the “Carrot Man” was identified as an Igorot, there was such a fuss; like as if Jeyrick Sigmaton is an anomaly as he did not fit lowlanders’ notion of what an Igorot looks like. Then comes the national television show where a historian claims that Jeyrick Sigmaton looks the way he does because of a Caucasian ancestry that improved his race!

It is a sad fact that Filipinos attribute beauty and good looks to having an aquiline nose and Caucasian features.

It is a sad fact that Filipinos attribute the Carrot Man’s handsome looks on his physical features when such features is not at all unusual in Igorotland. What sets Jeyrick apart is not his good looks based on his aquiline nose and cute dimples as many in social media are always pointing out. But for a people who have strong tendency to only look at external appearances, they do not see that it is the Carrot Man’s innocence and purity that makes him so comely.

When asked which Filipino actress or actor he admires, Jeyrick could not name anyone. Oh, in case the lowlanders don’t know, in the mountains, we are not really that starstruck, so it was not surprising that the Carrot Man could not answer their question about celebrities. And would anybody find it strange that this 21-year-old man does not know what a ‘mall’ is?  Again, in the mountains, we don’t have that consumerist malling culture prevalent among lowland Filipinos.

Enauchi ay Jeyrick, your fate has summoned you. Wherever it leads you, be sure to take care of your soul. The grandparents are looking after you.


Early to mid 1900s Sagada Igorot Man – Masferre Collections

48 thoughts on ““Improvement of the Race”

  1. to the author…so who’s to be blame now..how came the “as if the world do’nt know us..how came that the world only know that igorots were discribe something lije aitas…i’ve been everytime have an an argument w/lots of our kababayan abt this matter co’z they dont even believe that im an igorot..coz they said i dnt look like one…so why?whos fualt?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spaniards. …they’re the one who spread those description. …coz as history says they never conquered the Cordillera region. ..meaning even those kababayans from the lowland or majority of them also never came to the igorotland coz they’re too busy fighting for their freedom😆

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks a lot for your excellent commentary. Just to add up noses shapes has nothing to do with beauty nor culture. It has something to do with the biology of the human body. People in colder climates develop high nose bridges and thin noses. Inside our noses are blood vessels that help heat up the air that we breath in. Our bodies need to be at 37 degrees and so must the air that we breath in. The colder the climate the thinner the noses become. People in humid and hot region need not heat up the air that they breath in and develop flat and wide noses. That is how the human body adapts to cold or hot environment. Other forms of adaptation are skin color, barrel shaped chest for those who lived in high altitude etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This story open my eyes about Igorots, i can see them now as good people, kind people and good looking people.
    I`m inspired the way this story explains well informing us that Igorots are taking care of their tribe, from their forefathers until now they preserve the way they live, their culture and even their spirit of taking care of each other.
    It`s an awe for me that most of them are having the pureness in their heart, as we can see how Jeyrick`s behavior affect us on the way he shows his humbleness. I admit i feel something pureness and innocence on Jeyrick and hoping that he would live the life he wants to be so he would spend his life happy and peaceful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you !.. We all wish him good luck and hope that he’ll not lose himself in this bigger world he’s suddenly thrust into, especially in the glittering and complicated world of entertainment media.


  4. This story open my eyes about Igorots, i can see them now as good people, kind people and good looking people.
    I`m inspired the way this story explains well informing us that Igorots are taking care of their tribe, from their forefathers until now they preserve the way they live, their culture and even their spirit of taking care of each other.
    It`s an awe for me that most of them are having the pureness in their heart, as we can see how Jeyrick`s behavior affect us on the way he shows his humbleness. I admit i feel something pureness and innocence on Jeyrick and hoping that he would live the life he wants to be so he would spend his life happy and peaceful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. HI Allu,
    Being a Cordilleran myself, I was a bit affronted by what that professor said. I said, ‘what is wrong with being pure Malayo/Polynesian?’ Clearly, that was a discriminatory statement against his own race, and he made no bones about saying it in front of millions of people. He should be ashamed of himself. I have asked my father about this, and he said he does not remember missionaries marrying anyone from his tribe or in other tribes. Also, he said the reason majority of Cordillerans are fair-skinned is because they live in mountain ranges. Go to Baguio and you see fair-skinned, rosy cheeks natives – these people have adapted themselves to their environment. But thank you for writing this article – someone really needed to educate the public and that professor, in particular.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you sir for an astonishing blog… I expect an ordinary person from manila to comment about what an people suppose to look like, but a Professor?? phd??? making a judgemental opinion not based on any research?? he could have googled it.. But anyway sir, you sound more like a real professor than Mr. Naval eyaman adi Kabsat..:)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How ironic that until now they dont know how an igorot man looks like.

    While they’ve been idolizing igorots already in the television.

    Here are some of them:
    1. Marky Cielo (+) of the GMA network
    2. Paulo Avelino of the ABS CBN network
    3. And now carrot man

    I don’t know if our co-Filipino countrymen are just discriminating us or im sorry for the word but maybe they are just ignorant of how we really look like . Another thing is they always visit Baguio city during Panagbenga that is located in the cordillera region wherein it is the land of the Igorots. And yet they still dont know how an igorot loos like?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe it’s a mix of both ignorance and discrimination. But I think it is more of ignorance. After last year’s Panagbenga, someone on facebook posted the picture of her family dressed in traditional Igorot costume to show to the public how Igorots look like. If I remember her story well, it’s either that her family owns a bed and breakfast establishment or that they opened their home for transients from other places who come for the festival.

      After the festival, when their guests were about to leave, the host reminded the latter that they still have some food left and asked what they plan to do with the leftover food.

      Parang ganito yung daloy ng paguusap nila:

      Igorot Host: Sir, meron pa po kayong natirang pagkain, ano po ang balak nyong gawin sa natirang pagkain?

      Guests: May mga dumadaan bang mga Igorot dito? Pakibigay na lng sa kanila kung may makita kayo.

      Igorot Host: Igorot po kami sir.

      Gulat na gulat yung mga guests… pero humingi naman ng sincere na paumanhin at dali daling umalis. Hahaha.

      Sa asar yata ng Igorot host, pina-costume niya buong pamilya niya at pinost sa facebook at sinabing “ganito ang itsura naming mga Igorot.”


      • I say it is both: their discriminatory attitude gave way go their ignorance …because our foreparents were earlier projected as dark skinned, thick lips, flat nosed etc with tails, un-schooled. That is the igorot picture planted in their mimd. I experienced the disbelief of some filipino co-workers in KSA (2001-2007) who didnt believe that i am a full-blooded igorot..a college degree holder like them, but…mas pogi kesa kanila. My years of working at different places in the Phil has armed me the versatility to mimic different dialect intonations when talking to them such that they do not believe me. It seems that in their mind, an igorot cannot be such, that we can not be at par with them. I told them there are high ranking igorots in the military and govt offices. Your blog is one avenue to help people know the highlanders!


      • It all really started during the Spanish occupation. I read somewhere that it was a form of propaganda against the Cordillerans due to the fact that our ‘forefathers’ gave the Spanish a hard time accessing our rich gold mines and as a result created this crack between us and the lowlanders. I do not entirely blame our fellow Filipinos who think as such since out of there innocence they were thought that Igorots are dark, with tails,etc.. (this is based on my personal experience by the way, I actually interviewed a former co-worker of mine from Laguna who was really shocked to know when I told her I am an Igorot and to my amusement, she even tried to look at my bum looking for my tail, LOL! so as joke I told her I had to cut it off cause I might become a Gorilla during fullmoon- I was actually pertaining to Son Goku when I told her where my tail had gone and apparently she did not get my joke. So, yeah, she told me that their perceptions about us Igorots where actually what was thought them in school). Which is why I am happy that Jeyrick has been discovered in hopes that through him, our fellow Filipinos will get to know more about the Igorots and how much like them we are. My whole point is that we (Igorots) have then an opportunity and also a responsibility to let our fellow Filipinos who have these wrong notions know more about us, our culture and heritage. Kudos! to Allu, great article! Very informative! God bless Jeyrick!


        • Yes, that’s true, the cause is rooted in our history. I actually wrote my next blog post about the historical root since many are wondering about this thing. Will be posting it soon as i’m now back online. Thank you for your input. 🙂


  8. i love how the author took time to discuss this issue in-depthly.. because it really has to be corrected, sad to say not through the media where the damage has been done, not unless Jessica Soho and her show will take the full initiative and responsibility to correct what has been said. hay, RIP to responsible journalism. Kudos kanyam manong nga nagsurat ditoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well said …. We are pure Filipino… A pure igorot living in a naturally rich mountain of cordillera….my race not improved …👍👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jijiji! Enjoyed reading your article. Ako nga ang alam ko lng Na Mall Sa US is Walmart d pla MAll yun grocery store. Let’s go Igorot and conquer the Universe! Kabunian bless us More!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It is hurting to know that people like those who said we igorots improved our race because of intermarriage with the american and british missionaries.Why these people dont accept the fact, that we igorots are be found in every place of the world with that carrots mans look. As all explained of all who made a comments about this statement done in the interview of mr. carrot man. Why these people still DONT want to accept our naturality.FBI FULL BLOODED IGOROT

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The Igorot dance esp. by women is a popular choice of talent in beauty contests even local ones in our province. And I know only of Igorots as a lifesize statue wearing the native costume. That you for this article.Well written. Now I know little bit more. Clearly the historian didn’t do his homework before the said interview 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hala nu naila da koma he “Dios de alwad” na ay great grandfather ko et nagwapo ya wada dedan tamtamiyek (dimple) na ❤ ; jolly good fellow sya ay tetewa ay Ygolot… sige man pakipost u kad picture he great grandfather ko…. 🙂 He Apo Dios laeng han nanango amamin!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have a classmate from Sagada. Her name is Darla. She’s not only pretty. She’s Brilliant. Now happily settled in the US.
    Another friend of mine from Sagada is Andrew. His features will put to shame many of the K-pop artists. He’s into scuba-diving, MMA, mountain-climbing, etc.
    Both are incredibly talented yet humble. With aquiline nose, mind you.
    And many more.
    Research pa more Jessica and that so-called UP prof!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. i guess we have a long way to go to be really heard, recognized, and admired as a group of people. thank you for this article. it shows that we can no longer trust those who are in the academic institutions.it is better to trust our experiences and the knowledge passed to us from our elders.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It was in my freshman year in UP that I first encountered these types of discriminatory or derogatory comments hiding under the guise of ignorance. I say so because in this age where all it takes is one click to verify information, the ‘ignorance’ argument does not and must not hold.

    One classmate from Batangas asked me what do we, Igorots, actually wear considering our weather. “Paano yun eh ang lamig dun lalo na sa ‘ber’ months?” I told him I wonder a lot about that myself.

    Another classmate from Nueva Vizcaya, a province we touch borders with, actually asked me, “Totoo bang may mga buntot ang mga Igorot?” I said yes but only the males. She did not quite get the joke. Maybe she’s an innocent on top of being ignorant.

    And yet other classmates, especially those from the big cities, asked me why my complexion was so fair & pinkish and my hair long & pin straight if I’m really an Igorot. “Para kang si Maria Makiling” is nowhere near flattering when it is followed by “Sigurado kang purong Igorot ka?”

    Contrast that to the kargador in a bus drop off station along Cubao who immediately asked me from which province of Cordillera do I hail from — all because of how I look like (with me yet to utter a single word and with my bus showing ‘Dagupan’).

    It just goes to show that neither your alma mater nor your level of ‘over degree-ing’ yourself (nor your prestige in the case of the J. Soho show) has any bearing on your being “educated.”

    The worst I’ve heard so far was that we, the general Igorot populace, were uncivilized or, I quote, “Less civilized kasi your coming of age came later,” owing to the fact that we were never successfully colonized.

    Imagine that! Me, a Filipino, being point blank told by another Filipino that I was somehow inferior because my ancestors were never colonized.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: The Discrimination of the Igorots | Allu Kuy: The Storyteller

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