BAGUIO CITY – The amam-a (male elders) of Mountain Province have recognized the role of women elders in the defense of their ancestral homeland from corporate and state projects.
In strengthening their elders’ organization in the province, they instituted membership of women and programs that would give them greater role in the campaign for the defense of their land and community peace.
In the recent congress of the elders under the Movement for the Advancement of Inter-Tribal Unity and Development (Maitud) in the capital town of Bontoc, they affirmed the role of elders, including women, for the defense of land and resources for future generations.
Elvira Taguba, from the Bontok ethnolinguistic group, explained this new achievement of their organizing had not only enlightened the male elders who dominated leadership. “They recognized the role of women during times that their homeland is threatened by large-scale projects and how these women elders took the cudgel for the protection of their communities.”
In an interview, Taguba explained the role of women who stopped the large-scale mining plan in Mainit, Bontoc and in the opposition of the World Bank-funded Chico River Hydro Energy project that would submerge ili (villages) in Bontoc and Kalinga.
She cited the leadership of Mother Petra Macliing of Bontoc who led the women in removing their clothes that drove mine spectators from Mainit.
Presently in the watershed areas of the Chico River in the boundaries of Ifugao-Mountain Province and Mountain Province-Kalinga, there are at least six applications for financial and technical assistance agreement (AFTA) mostly by foreign corporations, two applications for production and sharing agreements (PSA), and five exploration permit agreements (Expa), which is almost 49.92 percent of the total mine applications covering 1,111,995.4351 hectares based on records of the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
“It is through the women, like Mother Macliing, that went to Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga in the late 70s and early 80s to explain the consequences of the Chico River dam if allowed. Macliing Dulag, a pangat (peace pact holder) of Bugnay led the Kalinga in the anti-Chico Dam protest until he was killed by state soldiers in the 80s,” explained Taguba, who is a member of the secretariat of the Cordillera Elders Assembly where Maitud is a member.
In the elders’ congress, Anglican priest Fr. Pablo Buyagan urged the promotion of the value of life and all that sustains life.
“The defense of life, land, and resources is tantamount to our survival as people and communities. The destruction of our lands and resources would rob the future generations the means for survival,” added Fr. Buyagan.
As elders, both men and women, this is a great consciousness that made us live even today and it is our obligation to pass to the next generation. We need to actively participate in all aspects of local struggles in our communities to defend our resources against destruction, added Fr. Buyagan, who is from Kalinga.
The recent elders’ congress was held at the Bishop Longid Hall, ENDP Building, Bontoc, Mt. province and was participated in by almost 100 male and women elders from the various towns of the province.