#BulatlatAsks | What made your Cordillera Day memorable?

(Photo by D. Ayroso / Bulatlat.com)
(Photo by D. Ayroso / Bulatlat.com)

Bulatlat.com asked participants when was their most memorable Cordillera Day celebration, and what made it memorable.

By KATHRINA MANUEL
Bulatlat.com

BAGUIO CITY – April 24 marked the celebration of the 31st Cordillera Day, which commemorates the death of Kalinga pangat (tribal chief) Macliing Dulag and other heroes and indigenous peoples martyrs. Every year, the gathering is opened to everyone who wants to experience the rich culture of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera, as well as learn about their struggles to defend their ancestral lands and fight for the right to self-determination.

Bulatlat.com asked participants when was their most memorable Cordillera Day celebration, and what made it memorable.

Lulu Gimenez, 56, of the Alliance of Peasants in Cordillera (Apit Tako) and Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA)

I’ve been celebrating Cordillera day for more than a decade because this day is the opportunity to express solidarity to the struggles of different communities.

1984 was the most memorable Cordillera day for me because that was when we held the People’s Tribunal wherein we tried the Marcos dictatorship in absentia. It was good, and the people’s participation was overwhelming – all of them voiced out the abuses they experienced under the Marcos dictatorship. This was also the height of the struggle against Chico Dam.

Norma Mo-oy, Timmawa & SSPIM (Photo by D. Ayroso/Bulatlat.com)
Norma Mo-oy (Photo by D. Ayroso/Bulatlat.com)

Norma Mo-oy, 63, vice chairperson, Tignay dagiti Mannalon a Mangwayawaya ti Agno (Timmawa), leader of Shalupirip Santahnay Indigenous Peoples Movement (SSIPM) and the Itogon Inter-Barangay Alliance (Iib-a)

From 1997 up to now, I’ve always joined the Cordillera day. For me, 1997 was the most memorable celebration, which was held in our place in Dalupirip, because that year was when we fought against the construction of the San Roque Dam, and we were united by this issue.

Iib-a's founding chairperson Rosita Bargaso (Photo by D. Ayroso/Bulatlat.com)
Rosita Bargaso (Photo by D. Ayroso/Bulatlat.com)

Rosita Bargaso, 68, founding chairperson of Iib-a, leader of Itogon Indigenous People’s Organization, and Cordillera Elders Association

The most memorable Cordillera day for me was here in Itogon in 1992 because this was the year of the height of the struggle against open-pit mining. When Cordillera Day was held here, many soldiers came and “guarded” us.

Nenita Taguda, 61 from Bakun-Aywanan

2009 was the most memorable because I learned a lot of things through the sharing about how to wage the struggle.

In our place, we were up against the large-scale mining of Royal Co., which wanted to encroach in our village, but we succeeded in stopping them because we went to the government offices.

Santos Mero, 45, deputy secretary general of Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA)

I started joining this event in 1992. When I was designated to the regional office, I became one of the organizers for Cordillera Day.

It is important to celebrate Cordillera Day because it is not only a gathering to remember the past struggles, and the martyrs. Cordillera day is in itself a people’s action because it is held where there are urgent issues.

Simplicio Sikuan (Photo by D. Ayroso/Bulatlat.com)
Simplicio Sikuan (Photo by D. Ayroso/Bulatlat.com)

Simplicio Sikuan, 75, of Tuding village, Iib-a leader

We formed the group Iib-a because of the activities of the (mining) company, from making tunnels in the mountains, they turned to open-pit, and that’s when we started the barricades.

I am celebrating this 31st Cordillera Day because this day reminds me of the martyrs’ sacrifice.

Marben Panlasigui, 21, National Union of Students of the Philippines

The first time I joined Cordi Day was in 2013. The most memorable Cordi Day for me was in 2014 because we went to Abra where the extrajudicial killing of the Ligiw Family happened. A man and his two sons were killed because they were suspected to be sympathizers and members of the NPA.

(Photo by D. Ayroso/Bulatlat.com)
(Photo by D. Ayroso/Bulatlat.com)

Bernaliza Lablabong, 28, Socio Pastoral Apostolate, St. Scholastica’s Priory Tagaytay

2014 was my first time to attend Cordillera Day. Although I am an Ifugao, I was not aware of the issues being faced by my fellow Cordillerans, such as mining, regional autonomy and the Free, Prior and Informed Consent which is a right of the indigenous peoples, and is required as a permit for the companies before they enter their land.

Sister Sonia Silverio, 58, volunteer of Task Force on Urban Conscientization

My first Cordillera day was in Quirino Hill in Tapao, Baguio. Cordillera day is very important, because for example, those success stories, if there’s no Cordillera Day, how can we achieve the objectives of the people in fighting, such as in the struggles against mining?

Julius Ceasar Daguitan (Photo by K. Manuel/Bulatlat.com)
Julius Ceasar Daguitan (Photo by K.Manuel/Bulatlat.com)

Julius Ceasar Daguitan, 27, member of Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Netwrok, Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera (DKK) and Cordillera Youth Center (CYC)

I started joining Cordillera day in 1991, when I was just six years old because my parents are members of the CPA. The most memorable Cordillera Day for me was in 2011 in Lacub, Abra because it was the first time that a consultation (for social-economic reforms) was held between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the government of Republic of the Philippines. In that meeting, they talked about the issues of the indigenous peoples.

Pastor Judith Aniceto, 58, United Church of Christ of the Philippines, Iib-a, of Ucab village, Itogon

Cordillera day for us is memorable because it is our victory, victory in a way, because our struggle is continuous, and we were able to prevail in the previous struggles.

The next generation. Children join the protest at SM City Baguio on Cordillera Day 2015 (Photo by D. Ayroso / Bulatlat.com)
The next generation. Children join the protest at SM City Baguio on Cordillera Day 2015 (Photo by D. Ayroso / Bulatlat.com)

Jay-R Mero, 11, incoming Grade 7 student

Cordillera Day is for (calling on) miners, to stop the mining here in Benguet. The water becomes dirty because of the open-pit mining, and if we stop the celebration of Cordillera day, there will be more who will make open-pit mines.

Aladin Libongen Jr., age 9, incoming Grade 4 student

Open-pit mining destroys nature, many trees are cut down and burned, and also, that mountain, they make a hole to search for gold.

We want Cordillera Day to continue so that we can protect the mountains and animals. The animals are decreasing because of open-pit (mines), and if we stop the fight, the open-pit might become stronger, and will even destroy nature more.

Estrel Pocdo, 12, Incoming Grade 7 student

Open-pit mining destroys the environment because it creates wastes, that’s why I want to continue the celebration of Cordillera Day so that nature may be protected, and our school is already affected by the open pit.

Hollace Chai, 23, from Hongkong

This is my first time to join Cordillera day, and it is a great day that people gather in the place and remember the struggle. Also the situation here is really intense because of the killings and the government is not responsive.

Ingrid Shannah Calapit, 22, an alumna of the University of the Philippines

It’s my first time to join Cordi Day, and I think it’s a great venue to gather different individuals and groups that support the rights of the IPs (indigenous peoples).

Lito Latorre (Photo by K.Manuel/Bulatlat.com)
Lito Latorre (Photo by K.Manuel/Bulatlat.com)

Lito Latorre, 51, lay missionary for the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), Redemptorist Church of Baclaran

It’s my first time to join and I’m happy because they have continued the celebrations, and it should be carried on by the next generation.

Noemi Navarroza, 30, seminarian of Ecumenical Theological Seminary

Here, on Cordillera Day, we learned about the stories and struggles of the people in this community, and now, we should be one with them in their aspirations and struggles.

Rollie Libag, 62, member of Bayan Muna

1992 was the first time that I joined Cordillera day, here in Itogon Benguet. In the early 90’s, open-pit mining started, which is the modern way of mining, although what they had here was the traditional type which is pocket mining.
I joined here today because of my principles, since I am against this kind of mining because it does not benefit us Filipinos.

(Photo by D. Ayroso/Bulatlat.com)
(Photo by D. Ayroso/Bulatlat.com)

Nelson John Salvador, 52, Hustisya

I started joining Cordillera Day since the 1980’s, in solidarity with the indigenous peoples for their fight for self-determination, ancestral lands, livelihood and interests which are violated by mining. Now, I am fighting to get justice for the death of my wife, Engr. Delle Salvador.

Cordillera day is important because this is where they (indigenous peoples) redress their grievances.

Jill Cariño, Cordillera Peoples Alliance vice chairperson for external affairs, Task Force for Philippine Indigenous Peoples Rights (TFPIP)

I’ve met Macling Dulag, when I was just a student in UP Diliman, and he was one of the leaders who were campaigning against the dam.

I attended the first Macliing Memorial, in the same year after Macliing was killed. It was held in Bugnay, Kalinga, in Macliing Dulag’s ili (town). I remembered the sadness of the Kalinga people because of what happened, but they were also very defiant. They said that even if the state had killed Macliing, they will continue to fight the Chico Dam. That was what struck me the most.

Cordillera Day should be continued because this is now no longer about Chico dam or Macliing Dulag. This is about the whole struggle of the Cordillera people against issues affecting them, which violate their human rights.

Cordillera Day gathers the Cordillera people, and supporters outside the region, from different parts of the country. It concentrates the strength of the people and gives inspiration to us all. (With a report from Dee Ayroso) ()

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