Misplaced Pride

by alex

As my historical post “What Killed Dr. William Jones” was a fairly popular entry, some of you might be wondering what has become of the Ilongot people.

Image from GMANews.tv

Image from GMANews.tv

Well, according to my friend, journalist Abe Almirol (with whom I worked with on a Australian mining story this January) they changed their name to ‘Bugkalot’ after American missionaries began preaching to them and they abandoned their practice of headhunting.

During yesterday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Bugkalot made a surprising appearance—of sorts. Mayor Rosario Camma, a Bugkalot that long ago left the mountain villages, attended the event wearing traditional attire.

Was this cultural pride?

I think that would have been my impression if I had seen this without knowing other facts. Unfortunately it seems that whatever pride Mr. Camma may have, it’s quite different from the sort of pride that would defend the land, livelihood, and general well-being of his people.

While at the exact same time President Arroyo was giving her SONA, the Bugkalot people that still lived on their ancestral land were manning a physical barricade in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya in order to prevent the entry of large scale mining interests into their territory.

President Arroyo acknowledged Camma in her speech, claiming he “helped his 15,000-member tribe develop irrigation, plant vegetables and corn and achieve food sufficiency.”

I think what she meant to say was that Camma led a group of elders to consent to the entry of mining exploration activities by Australian company, Royalco Resources Ltd. I’m not exactly sure how the entry of an open pit mine that basically rips away all earth that would support farming activities would help “achieve food sufficiency.” And according to Abe’s GMANews.tv article, ‘there are no new irrigation systems built inside the Bugkalot ancestral domain.’

Camma’s cousin Mariano Maddela, is part of the group opposed to the mining plans.

“Halatang hindi na siya nakatira dito sa bundok. Nakakatuwa! (It is quite obvious that he no longer lives here in the mountains. It’s funny!),” Maddela said when he saw the photos.

I’m personally glad to know that the tribe that fought off American arrogance during the Philippine-American war are still fighting—even as I am saddened that some of their members have forgotten this proud legacy.

* * *

Abe’s article: ‘SONA Mascot’ Entertains Bugkalot Tribesmen

Abe’s Blog: http://bernabealmirol.blogspot.com/

More on the Bugkalot fight against Royalco Resources Ltd: http://gascon.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/

For more info on Philippine mining see an earlier post: Gold, Our Conflict Diamonds.

For a transcript of Arroyo’s 2008 SONA: http://www.gmanews.tv/story/109854/STATE-OF-THE-NATION-ADDRESS-(Text)

~ by alexfelipe on July 28, 2008.

2 Responses to “Misplaced Pride”

  1. Hi alex,
    The “irrigation” metioned is actually located at the downstream of Casecnan river located in Nagtipunan, Quirino where Camma is the incumbent mayor. Said irrigation (s) was able to augment corn production in Nagtipunan being traded in Northern Philippines (Santiago City, Tuguegarao City) and even in Pangasinan and Manila. That irrigation is the 60% percent left out of the diverted casecnan irrigation project to Central Luzon. In addition, not only within their ancestral domain irrigation was built but to the thousand hectares of Central Luzon producing rice, corn, vegtables, onions etc… Not only that, said project was able to generate hundreds of megawatts (IPP) that save the country from power crisis. Notwithstanding said development protagonist is always there.

    This tribe has been a bondage of idiocy and lack of education for a long period of decades. Let them feel development and abundant life.

  2. Alex,

    I presume you have not conducted a fair study and research about what GMA has said as part of her SONA speech. I agree to what ‘ilongot’ has said. I am a witness to that. Although I am not exactly from the Municipality of Nagtipunan in the province of Quirino, I went there several times and what GMA said was true. Aside from that, within our ancestral domain area, THE BUGKALOT ANCESTRAL DOMAIN, lies the Casecnan dam. This dam does not only produce hundreds of megawatts but also supply water to thousand of hectares of farmlands in Central Luzon. It does because the flow of water was diverted to Pantabangan Dam via huge underground tunnel. Regarding the prevented entry of large scale mining, it was not the Bugkalots alone who blocked it. Most of the anti-mines who resisted were from the migrant groups. Only few of them are Bugkalots. I was there during the barricading…

    Misplaced pride? Come here and we will headhunt your head off…

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