The List: A Clarification

From the Boondocks is an equal opportunity blog. That means that our series, The List, is an equal opportunity list. In other words, we will include anyone regardless of their political convictions (leftist, rightist, centrist, communist, Arroyo-ist, Erapist, political opportunists, etc.) for as long as they are achievers, or stood up for something, or served the Cordilleras and its peoples. Okay, maybe we will not be including political opportunists if their opportunism is what defined their life and their career. But if they have done at least one good thing for the region that was not motivated by personal gain, then we may consider them.

We are making this clarification at this point because the succeeding entry in the series is dedicated to people from opposite ends of the spectrum — soldiers, rebels, soldiers-turned-rebels, activists, activists-turned-rebels, and martyrs.

For some reason, we as a people excel in the military arena both as government soldiers and as rebels in the mountains. My best guess is that our traditional warrior culture makes us excel in this area. After all, haven’t we successfully resisted the Spaniards for 300 years? This being the case, my best hope is that the Igorot soldier will not come face to face with the Igorot rebel in the battlefield. In an ideal world, our hope may yet be fulfilled but we are part of a crazy country called the Philippines where things are very very far from ideal.

We are also not lacking in activists and I believe that our very marginalization as a people has made us good activists. We are talking here about activists who produce results — the kind who are not just into the “rah rah rah” thing.

Nowadays, activists are often criticized and sometimes they deserve the bad rap they get. However, we should not forget that a good portion of the social progress in the Cordilleras came about because of them. They were most vocal in calling for the unification of the Cordillera provinces while politicians were content playing second fiddle to their counterparts in the Ilocos and Cagayan. They lobbied for the progressive provisions of the Constitution recognizing indigenous rights and which served as the foundation of the Indigenous Peoples Right Act. They also led in preventing “development projects”, e.g., Chico River Dam, designed to benefit the Filipino elite rather than indigenous communities even though the latter would make the most sacrifice.

Of course they also lost some battles, but I can’t think of any group of activists in the country who made as much positive impact in their area as the ones in the Cordilleras.

Unfortunately, activists are a dying breed these days. Its not because they stopped attracting young people into their ranks but because they — even the young ones — are being killed. In their deaths, they become martyrs who deserve a place in The List. Alongside them would be their kin in the military who lived and died for our country and who equally deserve to be honored.

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