Many were optimistic then that with the end of the Marcos regime and the ascension of the popular Corazon C. Aquino to the country’s Presidency, things would change for the better in the Cordillera. In fact, the CPA participated actively in the drafting of the 1987 Constitution, vigorously working in particular for the recognition of the indigenous peoples’ right to regional autonomy.
What the CPA did not anticipate was the capacity of one faction of the ruling elite to sow intrigues and engage in deception to have its way in the Cordillera. For as one pundit has put it, “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”
So it was under the Aquino presidency and those who succeeded her, especially the current Arroyo administration. Not only has militarization returned to the Cordillera bringing rampant human rights violations in its wake, but the entire region now faces economic and ecological disaster as it is being opened up to foreign mining explorations with all the ravages which it brings to the livelihood of the local communities and their environment in these times of worsening climate change.
Cordillera Day this year will be celebrated as it was done in the past, not with your typical tourist-drawing activity of street-dancing, band marching and all that stuff. There will be songs, chants, dances, skits and speeches as the Cordillerans, celebrate in their own unique way. But amid all these festivities are messages the participants including national and international delegates wish to share with each other. “Let us honor the memories of those have sacrificed so much for our land and people. Let there be justice for the innocents recently killed and involuntarily disappeared. Let us all be alert against the growing threat of large-scale mining.” And similar messages.
But most of all, let us “strengthen the people’s solidarity and intensify the struggle for land, life and rights,” as the CPA puts it. This is the over-arching theme that will bring the people and their guests together on Cordillera Day.
The celebration is, indeed, a political activity. After all, it was the abuse of State power that gave birth to the Cordillera’s version of people power that persist in calling for the collective defense of land, life and resources of the indigenous people in this part of the country. # Manny Loste Posted by (Bulatlat.com)