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Volume III,  Number 45              December 14 - 20, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines


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Pedro Dungoc: Kalinga Warrior, People’s Martyr


Among this year’s Human Rights Day honoree-martyrs in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship is Kalinga leader Pedro Dungoc. A close friend of martyr Macliing Dulag, Dungoc was in the forefront of the anti-dam struggle in the late 1970s-early 1980s and, like many Cordillera warriors, joined the New People’s Army. He died in 1985 at the age of 82.


By Northern Dispatch (Nordis)

Posted by Bulatlat.com

BAGUIO CITY – A Kalinga leader who fought side by side with Macliing Dulag against the Chico dam project and the oppressive structures behind it in the late 1970s-1980s, was chosen by a Manila-based shrine as among this year’s honoree-martyrs in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship.

Pedro Dungoc, of Bugnay village, Tinglayan, Kalinga, in northern Philippines was honored on Human Rights Day Dec. 10 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Shrine in Quezon City.

The shrine and the annual commemoration of fallen martyrs is maintained by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, a Manila-based institution composed of prominent personalities and relatives of activists who died fighting Marcos’s dictatorial rule from 1972 to 1986.

Dungoc’s name was inscribed on the shrine’s Wall of Remembrance, joining a long list of martyrs and heroes who fought the dictatorship. In the list are two other prominent Cordillera martyrs, namely, Butbut tribal leader Macliing Dulag and Jennifer Cariño, a member of the prominent Baguio Ibaloi clan who joined the New People’s Army in the 1970’s.

“For striving to learn about the deeper social, economic and political contexts of the dam issue to enable his people to connect it with the bigger realities in the country, particularly the increasing oppressive and exploitative conditions wrought on the people by the Marcos dictatorship,” states the Bantayog citation obtained by Nordis.

In a Nordis interview, Dungoc’s second child, Pedro Jr., was elated with his father’s selection but said his family does not expect anything in return for the sacrifices his father made in the defense of the Cordillera homeland.

“I am happy with the news. Because of my father’s ideals and principles, our family continues to be active in the struggle for land rights,” said the young Dungoc, a graduating student at the Episcopalian St. Andrew’s Seminary in Quezon City. He is also a member of the TAKDER, a Cordillera youth organization based in Manila.

Members of the Center for Cordillera Peoples’ Concerns (CCPC), a federation of Manila-based Cordillera youth and professionals, joined the Dec. 10 activity.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) also welcomed the inclusion of Dungoc’s name among the Bantayog martyrs. The CPA, a regional federation of sectoral organizations that include elders’ groups, emerged in 1984 as an offshoot of the escalating Cordillera indigenous peoples’ movement triggered by the anti-Chico dam struggle.

CPA Secretary General Windel Bolinget said Dungoc’s selection is a positive recognition of his efforts to fight against oppression directed against Cordillera indigenous peoples. The recognition should have been done earlier, Bolinget noted, but it proves the correctness of defending the Cordillera homeland from any form of destruction by state and corporate interests.

Who is Dungoc?

Pedro Dungoc, reckoned by his children to have been born in 1943, came from a peasant family in Bugnay village, where Macliing Dulag was a esteemed pangat (indigenous leader). The eldest of three children, he reached second year college at the St. Louis of Tabuk in Kalinga. At that time, he was the only Butbut tribal member who was able to reach a college-level education.

Employed by then Ministry of Public Highways as a telephone operator, Dungoc married villagemate Alice Chuki and were blessed with five children. Son Pedro Jr. said his elder sister and his younger brother, both married, are in Bugnay while the other two, like him, are college students.

From family man to anti-Chico dam fighter

The peace in Bugnay village was disrupted when then-dictator Ferdinand Marcos pushed for the building of World Bank-funded dams along the Chico River, which threatened to submerge entire farming valleys and displace thousands of rural villages in Kalinga and nearby Mountain Province.

Dungoc joined other Kalinga people in opposing the dam. Helped by his college education, he played a key role in the struggle, like in drafting the pagta (peace pact) among Bontok and Kalinga peace pact holders.
The dam-affected villages raised their level of unity by forming the first ever multi-bodong Kalinga-Bontok Peace Pact Holders Association (KBPPHA), after several bodong-related conferences and consultations.

Because of the growing anti-dam opposition, the dictatorship militarized the whole of Kalinga. Dungoc himself survived AFP efforts to silence him, including torture and murder attempts. In fact, he was Macliing’s neighbor and when AFP troops barged into their village to kill Macliing on that fateful night of April 24, 1980, they also strafed his house and set his house on fire, believing that they had killed him like Macliing. Dungoc was wounded in the arm but escaped to safety with his family.

Joining the NPA

Anti-Chico dam fighters, realizing the inutility of purely legal struggle under the dictatorship, urged Dungoc and his villagers to join the New People’s Army. All along the Chico River valley, large numbers of Kalinga youth joined the NPA.

Dungoc proved to be a high-performing member in the NPA. In Kalinga’s warrior-society culture, men are not supposed to be tied down to household chores, but Dungoc was determined to change not only his society but himself as well.

He was esteemed among the locals, whether among NPA Red fighters, legal activists, or ordinary village folk.

Circumstance of death

At the height of typhoon “Kuring” on June 22, 1985, Dungoc and another NPA fighter were sheltered under a large tree in a mountainous NPA camp, when a very heavy branch cracked and fell straight on their tent.

His comrade died on the spot, but Dungoc lingered for a few more hours before he too died. He was brought home to his village and buried after tribal rituals.

A year after Corazon Aquino was installed as president by EDSA People Power 1, the Chico River dam plan was shelved.

A call to continue Dungoc’s example

CPA’s Bolinget reiterated the contribution of Dungoc to the overall struggle against national oppression, such as state-imposed development, non-recognition of indigenous peoples’ land rights and violations against their right to self-determination.

“We should imbibe the principles learned from Dungoc and Cordillera leaders as inspiration for our struggle for self-determination and social justice,” Bolinget said.

The Bantayog was founded in the late 1980s where leaders, activists and ordinary people who fought anti-Marcos dictatorship, are nominated and chosen to be honored as martyrs and heroes.

A screening committee chooses nominees among the list for the yearly honorees.

The government donated a small lot near the Quezon Avenue – EDSA corner in Quezon City, where the Bantayog wall stands. Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS / Posted by Bulatlat.com 

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