Laiban Dam to Submerge Dumagat Lands

“Do not drive us away from our ancestral land”

Asked what he wanted the government to do for the indigenous peoples of Tanay, a 17-year-old magbuburlit (lumber-carrier) said, ”Leave us to live safely and do not create any hardships for us.”

“Life in Sta. Ines is hard. Sky- rocketing prices of prime commodities in the cities even double in the countryside. Our investigation revealed that a tin of sardines costs P18-P20 ($0.389 to $0.43 at the current exchange rate of $1=P46.19), rice is P110-120 ($2.38 to $2.597) per salop (bag) or P50-P55 ($1.08 to $1.19) per kilo; a gin-bottle of kerosene for lighting is P30 ($0.649),” Mallari said.

Daily wage is low at P100 ($2.16) for cleaning a kaingin for the well-off families who do not go to the mountain slope to take off the weeds. A lumber carrier gets only P6 ($0.129) per board-foot of lumber he carries from the woods, two to four hours by foot, to the village, or a measly P120 ($2.597) for two pieces of 10-foot lumber.

A rice trader usually takes the lumber and in exchange gives one salop of rice to the peasant Dumagat. For a board foot, the financier takes P1 ($0.02), P3 ($0.06) for the chainsaw operator, P1 ($0.02) for gasoline, and P1 ($0.02) for the helper.

Vegetable traders usually come in summer to get what the Dumagat would sell from their produce. The prices they give for the produce, however is too low, according to a young woman. Root crops only cost P4-P8 ($0.08 to $0.17) per kilo; bananas, P0.50 –P1 ($0.01 to $0.02) a piece; ginger P6 ($0.129) per kilo. Charcoal is only P65-80 ($1.407 to $1.73) per sack. Sometimes it goes down to P50 ($1.08).

“However simple our life may be, our demand is for (the government) not to drive us away from our ancestral land,” Ka Lope said.

A Source of Life

He said, “The squatters the government drives away form the cities are better off because they have a province to go home to. While for us, this is where we come from. We have nowhere to go to.”

Government plans to relocate the families in San Isiro, a village adjacent to Sta. Ines. That is beside the point, however, because the sources of livelihood of the people are in the places the reservoir will submerge, according to Ka Lope.

“Money is easily spent, but the trees and rivers will forever be the source of the people’s livelihood,” Nanay Aning, 65, told visiting KATRIBU leaders, as she echoed the popular sentiment against leaving the place to give way to the dam reservoir.

Old Project

The Laiban Dam project, resurrected from the Marcos dam projects, did not get the free, prior and informed consent of the Dumagat people. It met fierce protests during the martial law years. It has been peddled to many foreign investors including the Chinese ZTE.

Former Congressman Danding Cojuangco’s San Miguel Corporation offered to finance the construction and reportedly gained headway with Arroyo’s order to finish pending dam projects before her term ends.

Presidential aspirant Gilbert Teodoro is a Cojuangco scion and Cojuangco is a close ally of President Arroyo. (

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5 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Laiban Dam Benefits to the local populace and national government

    – It will create additional electricity and drinking water to metro manila. We all know that metro manila residents suffers water shortage and electricity requirements.

    – It will irrigate thousands of hectares to the provinces of rizal, cavite, laguna and batangas.

    – It will create more jobs to the people of rizal province and nearby provinces.

    – It will add national wealth to rizal and quezon province in terms of real property tax of the laiban dam operators.

    – The local populace of the affected barangays in the area of laiban dam can have a decent community in the relocation site intended to them, instead of living in the remote of tanay rizal and gen nakar quezon.

    – It can uplift the economic conditions of the populace in the area thru hiring of jobs and business enterprises.

    1. Ang nasabing dam ay hindi nagsusulong ng interes ng nakararami ito ay para lamang sa interes ng iilan para pagkakitaan.

  2. ako po ay taga sta ines at doon n po ipinanganak, tutol po ako na gawing dam ang laiban dam at palubugin ang 7 brgy!opo malaking tulong po ito sa mga taga metro mla.pero pano nmn ang kabuhayan ng mga taong taga rito sa kabundukan?oo pwede silang mabayaran pero sapat ba yun hanggng sa kanilang pagtanda?sanay na sila sa kabundukan mahirap na alisin sila sa lugar na kanilang kinamulatan,andun ang kanilang kayamanan!aagawin ba natin upng makinabang ang mga taga maynila?

  3. ang nakikita kong dahilan kaya marami ang gustong matuloy ito ay dahil marami na namng mananakaw ang mga taong mamahala sa projects na to!itaga mo pa sa bato!hoy mga nasa gobyerno masiyahan na kayo sa ninanakaw nyo sa kalunsuran!wag nyo nang agawin ang kaning isusubo ng mga taga bundok!iisang tupa na nga lang,kukunin nyo pa!mahiya namn kayo!

  4. sadyang magagawang dahilan ang proyektong laiban dam para mapunan ang kakulangan ng tubig sa kalunsuran habang mawawasak naman ang bahagi ng kalikasan sa sierra madre mountain!may long term bang kabutihan ito para sa mga tao sa kabundukan? o duon lang sa marealisan ng pondo para sa proyektong ito?

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