Most people in Baguio City do not know who Mateo Carino is. If you are a law student or a lawyer, you probably know his significance or impact in upholding the rights of natives to their ancestral land.
He is an Ibaloi tribal leader who owns a vast track of land in the province of Benguet including almost all of Baguio City during the early 1900s. However, the Philippine Government doesn’t recognize his title because it follows the “Regalian Doctrine” which dictates that all lands of the public domain belong to the State. He argued his case up to the Supreme Court (Mateo Carino vs Insular Government of the Philippine Islands; 212 U.S. 449 (1909)) and won. It is now the obligation of the government to recognize “native title” valid land rights established by testimonies or memories on land that has been held, occupied and utilized in ownership since time immemorial by indigenous populations.
This landmark decision(Mateo Carino Doctrine) has been used even in arguing cases of land ownership disputes filed by the Indians of Canada, the United States and Maori of New Zealand, in addition to the Philippines.