Residents of Lacub, Abra defy local municipal council to begin preparations for Cordillera Day 2011-03-21

By Kimberlie Olmaya Ngabit-Quitasol
Northern Dispatch
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The determination of the people of Lacub, Abra is like a mighty river mastering mountain slopes and rugged valleys flowing toward the open sea. This determination has been described in songs Salidummay and Danum written by Dapayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera (DKK, Center for Cordillera Peoples Culture).

Kitaem kadi kadwa/ Ti danum idiay bantay/ Nagayos nagpababa/ Inggana idiay baybay (Look at the water from the mountains my friend flowing towards the sea). Uray anya ti ikastam/ Uray man nu lappedam/ Mabirukanna latta/ Dalan ti wayawaya (Even if you try to stop it, it will find its way to freedom).

Truly, as mighty as the Binongan River, the determined and united people of Lacub have prevailed against the dictates of the powers that be. They have proven this from their opposition to the large scale logging of the Cellophil Resources Corporation during the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship and to their continuing struggle against the entry of large scale mining explorations today.

In their fight against three large mining companies that include Grand Total Mineral Exploration, Golden Lake Mineral Resources and Titan Mining and Energy Corporation they decided to host the 27th Cordillera Day this coming April 27.

Through their people’s organization Timpuyog dagiti Umili ti Lacub, Bantayan Ekolohiya ken Kinabaknang (TULBEK or Lacub People’s Federation for Ecological and Resource Protection) they passed a resolution to host the said celebration.

The Lacub municipal council, however, laid down its own resolution against this. Members of the council said that there was much to be desired about peace and order situation in the area, and the municipality is not ready for such a big event.

Tulbek said that the excuses of the local officials were unfounded. According to the group, the local government is against the hosting of Cordillera Day because they are afraid that their approval to the entry of large scale mining companies would be exposed.

“We believe that hosting Cordillera Day would draw local, national and international support to our struggle against the entry of destructive mining in our community. And this is what the local government fears,” Tulbek secretary general Esteban “Manong Itong”Ferraren said in Iloko.

Manong Itong purposely came to Baguio for the press conference last March 16 at the office of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in Baguio City to inform the public about the real situation in their community. CPA is spearheading the annual celebrations of the Cordillera Day.

Despite the municipal council’s resolution, Tulbek with the strong support of Lacub folks have begun preparations for Cordillera Day 2011. In a recent meeting for the preparations, they decided to fix the municipal road leading to the venue in Barangay Buneg.

Last March 13, 136 men, women and children armed with shovels, wheelborrows and sacks trooped to the said road to start the rehabilitation work. The other community members prepared food and fetched drinking water for the workers. The next day, another set of 86 community folks finished the road cleaning and reconstruction.

The community people reconstructed the road voluntarily, without asking for payment for their labor. They have proven that the will of a united people can overcome all odds.

Manong Itong shared that the said road has been impassable to vehicles for two years now.

“We can no longer wait for the municipal council to reconstruct the road. It’s true that fixing roads is the job of local officials, but we had to do it ourselves. This is not just for the visitors who will participate in Cordillera Day; it will benefit us the residents in the long run. It would facilitate easier transportation to and from or villages,” he said.

The said municipal road connects the villages of Buneg and Pacoc to Poblacion village and spans more than three kilometers. The community folk finished the road in two days.

According to CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget, Cordillera Day is a celebration of the struggle of the Cordillera people.

“It is a gathering where indigenous peoples all over the region and their supporters all over the country and even abroad share their victories, draw lessons from each others experiences, and learn their songs and dances,” he said.

Bolinget further said this year’s celebration of Cordillera Day will be both a celebration of the Lacub’s glorious history of resistance against the Cellophil logging in the 1980s and an expression of solidarity in their present struggle against destructive mining.

The song ends with Uray anya ti rigat na/ Mabayag man ti gubat/ Isu latta ti madanunan/ Nawaya a masakbayan (Whatever challenges be/ The battle may be enduring/ At the end/ Is a free tomorrow).

It is common knowledge that when the river swells and rages towards the open sea be sure to keep out of its way lest you be swept away. History has proven that a people united will never be defeated. Reposted by (

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