Filipinos of San Diego Profiles By Rudy D. Liporada
Robbie believes in the symbolism of Wising, the spirit of sharing among the hinterland peoples of the Cordillera Mountains in Northern Luzon, Philippines. A Wising is an amulet shaped like the snout of an animal normally worn as an earring or a pendant.
The spirit of sharing must have been ingrained in Robbie by his uncle, Johnny B. Mina, who adopted him when he and his brother were orphaned at an early age. Jessies parents, Rodolfo Pascua Mina, Sr. and nee Leonora Pascua died in an accident along the Halsema Highway, the gateway to the Cordillera hinterlands. Thanks to the generosity of his uncle, who was then in the US Navy, Robbie was able to immigrate to the United States right after his high school graduation in 1984.
Giving back, while currently employed within the Navy system as a civilian employee, Robbie devotes his time with the Beta Sigma Fraternity and the BIBAK (Benguet, Ifugao, Bontoc, Apayao, Kalinga), the worldwide indigenous organization of Cordillerans. While working in Washington as an Engineer at Boeing, Robbie was accepted by the BIBAK Pacific Northwest where he got involved in the culture and various Cordillera dances, gong playing, and performances. He expanded his knowledge about the Igorot culture and continued the legacy of his mothers love for the Cordillerans. Robbies love for the culture, people, and most especially the BIBAK Youth drove him to sacrifice his time and energy for the success of the most attended First BIBAK San Diego Grand Canao with the theme The Beat Goes On.
Robbies passion for the hinterland people merged with his love for photography in his exhibit, Wising A Communal Celebration, in Seattle Washington in 2009. The exhibit showcased part of his collection of photographs while in a sojourn in the Cordilleras.
Robbie was initially exposed to the art through his aunts college projects at the University of the Philippines. He had the chance to explore different subjects using film photography. Later, mastering digital complexes, he was mentored by members of Multiply X 6 who reside in Baguio City through computer communications. Accepting an invitation to attend an art exhibit at Café by the Ruins, he met his mentors. In his travels through the Cordilleras, lugging his camera, he broadened his understanding of the culture and his heritage. He also particularly thanks Mr. Tommy Hafalla, a noted ethnographer and documentary photographer based in Sagada, for the evolution of his photography craft and mostly, the Almighty for guiding him through the splendor of His Beauty through men and nature.