Two "Cordillera Day"? April 24 and July 15. The former was declared by the Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA) and the latter was declared by the Philippine government through Executive Order 220 signed by then President Corazon Aquino. Now, which is more legit?
According to CPA and its other affiliated organizations, April 24 should be recognized as Cordillera Day in honor of the Cordilleran Heroes- Macli-ing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc and Lumbaya Gayudan, who sacrificed their lives to preserve the ancestral lands in Cordillera and fight for their right to self-determination. But if we peruse into the history, April 24 is when Macli-ing Dulag died in his house because he was killed by soldiers. Shouldn't it be called the "Macli-ing Memorial" or "Dulag Day" but not "Cordillera Day"? Just like our National Heroes who were also honored yearly on the day that they died- Bonifacio Day and Rizal Day.
But why April 24, not January 1 when Gayudan died and not June 22 when Dungoc died as members of the New People's Army? Is it because April 24 is also the Founding Day of the National Democratic Front (NDF) which is the legal democratic force of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army (CPP-NPA)? Is it a coincidence or had they just planned it all along? That honoring the Cordilleran Heroes on April 24 is just their front in commemorating the NDF Anniversary.
And actually, they are not just the Cordilleran Heroes who should be recognized, we have many Tribal leaders and Bodong holders here in the Cordillera who also did the same or even greater than what Dulag, Dungoc and Gayudan did. The three were known for their strong will in opposing the Chico River Dam Project in Mt Province and Kalinga, how about the unsung heroes who fought for the preservation of their ancestral lands in other provinces in Cordillera? Don't they deserve to be recognized by the CPA also? Because speaking of "Cordillera" as a whole, we're not just talking about the struggles of Mt Province and Kalinga alone but the struggles of each and every provinces of the Cordillera Region.
Now, it makes sense, that is why CPA was always tagged as the legal FRONT organization of the CPP-NPA-NDF no matter how much they deny it. They always sing the same tune with the left and it only means one thing, they want to overthrow the government. They want to have their own government, as what was dictated by the CPP-NPA-NDF. They are against the decision of their Tribal leaders and Bodong holders who were at the "Mt Data Sipat" at that time together with the late President Aquino and the CPLA.
So, for me, as a native of Cordillera, which is more legit? I would still go for the July 15 Cordillera Day. Not just because it is recognized by Filipino people but because I respect and support the decision of my forefathers, the creation of Cordillera Administrative Region- that is when the Tribal leaders and Bodong holders were united and agreed to be as one Region. But still hoping for my Region to become Autonomous someday.
This article was shared with the Igorotage team by Janine Martin, from Tadian, Mt Province. You can contact her at Sweetjam1457@gmail.com.
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