BY MARIE CONIE DUERME
Posted by Bulatlat.com
The commemoration of the Cordillera Day is an event that has become the biggest annual political solidarity gathering of indigenous peoples not only in the Cordillera Region but also worldwide. This day is traced back to the eve of April 24, 1980 when soldiers belonging to the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division led by Lt. Leodegario Adalem entered the village of Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga and killed Macliing Dulag, leader of the struggle against the Chico Dam.
The commemoration of the Cordillera Day is an event that has become the biggest annual political solidarity gathering of indigenous peoples not only in the Cordillera Region but also worldwide.
Based on a Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) statement, this day is traced back to the eve of April 24, 1980 when soldiers belonging to the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division led by Lt. Leodegario Adalem entered the village of Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga and fired at two houses.
The attack meant to kill two staunch and respected leaders of the Kalinga and Bontoc peoples opposed to the World Bank-funded Chico River Basin Hydroelectric Dam Project of then dictator Ferdinand Marcos. They were Ama Macliing Dulag, a respected pangat (tribal chieftain) of the Butbut tribe and Pedro Dungoc.
Dulag died from multiple gunshots while Dungoc, though wounded, survived. Dungoc joined the New Peoples Army (NPA) and years later died a red fighter.
In the same statement, Dulag’s assassination is said to strengthen the determination of the Kalinga and Bontoc tribal people to defend their collective right over their land and resources against common enemies – the Marcos dictatorship and the World Bank– funded Chico Dam. The commemoration of Dulag’s death from 1981 to 1984 was called the Macliing Memorial, the CPA statement further related.
However, with the broadening of the Cordillera mass movement encompassing all provinces and the broadening issues of Cordillera, the commemoration began to be called Cordillera Day in 1985. This also symbolizes the widening unity and solidarity among the Cordillera’s different tribes, advocates and support groups. With the Cordillera groups are their friends and advocate groups from the barangay (village) level to international groups and conventions.
In June 1984, upon the invitation of the Kalinga-Bontoc Peace Pact Holder, people’s organizations in the Cordillera had the Cordillera People’s Congress in Bontoc, Mountain Province. The CPA was formed, and one of its first tasks is to lead in the annual commemoration of Cordillera Day on the death anniversary of Macliing Dulag, to remember the resolve and unity of the Cordillera peoples to resist all forms of development aggression in the Cordillera. The first Cordillera Day celebration was held in Sadanga, Mountain Province.
Since then, Cordillera Day has been held annually in different towns of the region. Cordillera Day focuses on burning issues of the day to guide these peoples’ meetings resulting in collective resolutions that serve as basis of the alliance’s programs throughout each year.
According to CPA secretary-general Windel Bolinget, the general program is usually a two-day celebration that includes workshops on major issues affecting indigenous peoples; presentations on the regional and national situation and challenges; sharing experiences and lessons from struggles defending indigenous peoples’ rights and various cultural presentations on sectoral and community issues; commemoration of Cordillera martyrs; mass dancing; playing of gongs and community chanting. The festive atmosphere of each celebration remains political yet colorful and inspiring.
Bolinget said the Cordillera Day is a political statement on present realities by the militant Cordillera peoples’ movement. It carries the advances of the mass movement for self-determination, national democracy, and solidarity across regional, national and international levels.
“The celebration of Cordillera Day has also expanded overseas,” Bolignet added. “For several years, Cordillera Day has been celebrated in Hong Kong, Belgium, and Macau. These were being organized by Cordillera migrants and workers together with international solidarity partners.”
The Cordillera Day and the CPA’s campaign and struggles are expected to continue until the people’s aspirations become real, Bolinget said. Northern Dispatch / Posted by (Bulatlat.com)