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Indigenous people remember Macliing Dulag’s martyrdom

April 24, 2010 3:31am
Through a night of songs, tribal dances and poetry, members of indigenous people’s groups and cultural organizations commemorated on Friday the 30th death anniversary of Ama Macliing Dulag, a Kalinga tribal leader and martyr during the Marcos era.

The groups lit torches and offered flowers at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, where Macliing’s name is etched along with hundreds of other heroes and maryrs who fought martial law, and whose heroism have become part of the country’s history.

macliing dulag
Dulag was a respected pangat (tribal chieftain) of the Butbut tribe in Kalinga province, who helped unify tribes in the northern Cordillera to resist the Chico Dam project in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The project consisted of four large dams to be constructed along Chico river, one of the major river systems in the Cordillera.

The project, considered a top priority by then President Ferdinand Marcos and funded by the World Bank, was opposed by indigenous communities in the provinces of Kalinga, Apayao, and Bontoc (Mountain Province).

According to the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), a federation of indigenous organizations in the Cordillera region, more than 100,000 Kalingas and Bontocs were to be adversely affected as the mega-dams will submerge dozens of villages and hectares of rice fields.

A number of times the government tried to bribe Macliing, the CPA added. One story tells of how the respected pangat was invited by then Presidential Assistant for National Minorities (PANAMIN) chief Manuel Elizalde to a high-end hotel and offered him a thick envelope.

Macliing reported replied, “This envelope can contain only one of two things – a letter or money. If it is a letter, I do not know how to read. And if it its money, I do not have anything to sell. So take your envelope and go."

Several times Dulag's profound words on land ownership have likewise been quoted.

When an army engineer reportedly asked the Kalingas for titles to their ancestral land, Dulag was said to have replied, "You ask us if we own the land. And mock us, 'Where is your title?' Such arrogance of owning the land when you shall be owned by it. How can you own that which will outlive you?"

On April 24, 1980, Philippine Army soldiers strafed Macliing’s hut in Bugnay village. He sustained bullet wounds in the chest and pelvis, killing him instantly. The soldiers were later convicted of his murder after an extended trial.

The day was thus declared Cordillera Day, celebrated every year in memory of Macliing and other martyrs of indigenous people’s rights.

“Dulag was instrumental in unifying the people of the Cordilleras to struggle against the dam construction. His death intensified opposition to the dam, forcing the government to abandon it," said Beverly Longid, president and first nominee of the party-list group representing indigenous peoples, KATRIBU.

“The dire situation remains as far as indigenous peoples are concerned. However, 30 years after Ama Macliing’s death, we have advanced in terms of forging intertribal unities geared towards improving our conditions as indigenous peoples marginalized in society," Longid added.—JV, GMANews.TV



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