The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) recentlyreleasedits invitation to the 27th Cordillera Day on April 26-27, 2011 in Abra.
As a regionally centralized celebration, CPA expects all delegates to arrive at the venue on April 25 and depart on April 28.
Cordillera Day 2011 will be hosted by Kakailian Salakniban Tay Amin a Nagtaudan (KASTAN), the provincial CPA chapter in Abra.
"Since its takeoff in 1985 from the earlier Macliing Memorials (1980-1984), the Cordillera Day celebration has been an annual tradition vital to affirming the Cordillera peoples’ unity in defending their ancestral domain and in struggling for self determination and national democracy. Cordillera Day 2011 will focus on burning issues of the Cordillera peoples, including mining, militarization, and human rights violations," CPA said in its invitation.
Mining remains a big issue as nearly a million hectares or 51% of the Cordillera land area is currently covered by the licensed operations and pending applications of transnational corporations and their Filipino partners. Mining plunder and development aggression have caused environmental disasters and aggravated the vulnerability of indigenous Cordillera communities to climate change.
According to CPA, "To suppress community resistance to large mining projects, the state has deployed four regular battalions and three special battalions of the Philippine Army to mining areas. As in the past, militarization has been attended by countless human rights violations."
Thus in this 27th Cordillera Day, elders and tribal leaders will preside over the forging of a multilateral unity pact to resist mining plunder and human rights violations,said Windell Bolinget, CPA chair.
In light of the government’s attempt for a third organic act for a Cordillera autonomous region, the subject of genuine regional autonomy and self-determination will also be a major concernand would be tackled in various activities during the Cordillera Day.
The 27th Cordillera Day will highlight the historic resistance of the indigenous Tinggians of Abra to the logging of their forests by Cellophil Resources Corporation during the years of the US-Marcos Dictatorship. Lessons from this successful struggle will be drawn in addressing the urgent issues confronting the Cordillera peoples today.
The theme of the celebration will be: Biagen ti nadeggang a pakasaritaan iti pannakidangadang. Ilaban ti daga, biag ken dayaw! (Live out our glorious history of struggle. Fight for land, life and honor!)
Written solidarity messages, cultural presentations and experiences based on the theme will also be among the highlights as in past celebrations.
Also as in the past, a registration fee of PhP300 will be collected to help cover food expenses. Further financial contribution to help defray other expenses, such as logistics and the travel of indigent delegates, who will compose the bulk of the participants will also be welcome, according to Bolinget.
Cordillera Day has become a tradition among the indigenous peoples of the region since 1984, taking its roots in the Macliing Memorial that sought to immortalize the life and works of a Kalinga chieftain (Dulag Macliing) who was martyred on April 24, 1980 by government soldiers due to his leadership in the peoples' struggle against the building of the Chico River dam in the '70's.
The annual gathering attracts more than 5,000 delegates not only among indigenous peoples in teh Philippines, but also non-IP's in the country and among international solidarity groups. # Lyn V. Ramo