The Philippines has honored a number of heroes through monuments and shrines that local governments have been maintaining and marketing as tourist landmarks. However, it seems that authorities in Kalinga have no similar love for its Indigenous heroes, nor respect for their struggle to defend their land.
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), an independent federation of progressive organizations based in the Cordillera Region, said in a statement that it received reports that on Jan. 3, “three pick-up trucks ferried policemen to Bugnay, Tinglayan at the site of the heroes monument and took down the monument panels bearing the profiles of Macli-ing Dulag, Lumbaya Gayudan and Pedro Dungoc—prominent heroes of the anti-Chico Dam struggle.”
Today, CPA shares succeeding accounts collected from residents of Brgy. Bugnay. They told CPA that on the night of Jan. 3, they saw hooded men at the site of the monument and noticed a change of policemen manning the checkpoint nearby. They added that on the night of Dec. 12 last year, they also saw four hooded men chipping away the marble plate bearing words of dedication for the heroes.
“Bugnay residents complained to Tinglayan Mayor, Hon. Sacrament Gumilab as well as the Philippine National Police (PNP). The PNP, with no trace of guilt nor shame, said that the demolition was done by members of the Betwagan tribe in Mt. Province. Their attempt to pin their crime on innocent people failed as Bugnay came up with a resolution pointing to the PNP as culprits and calling for an investigation, which they submitted to the office of the Upper Kalinga District Engineering Office (UKDEO),” the CPA said.
ALERT UPDATE: Bugnay residents recount how hooded men demolished Heroes’ monument in the dark of night
The group called the demolition of the Chico heroes monument, which was erected in 2017, an affront to the heroism of those who have defended their homeland from plunder. The three tribal leaders who were memorialized played critical roles in the fight against the Marcos regime’s Chico Dam River Project in the 1970s. The project aimed to construct a series of dams along the Chico river—a move that would have destroyed villages, burial grounds and the rice fields of Indigenous communities.
On Oct. 8, the CPA received a demolition order from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) UKDEO. It instructed CPA to remove the monument within seven days. The stated reason behind the order was that the monument was “obstructing” a national road. Among those who opposed the DPWH’s demand was Bantayog ng mga Bayani.
“Bantayog opposes the plan to demolish this monument, which is not only a unique and distinctive work of art; it bears a deeply historical and cultural value,” said Bantayog in a statement. “The three (Dulag, Gayudan and Dungoc) are also included in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani’s roster of martyrs and heroes under the Marcos dictatorship. It is hard to find a more moving example of a David-and-Goliath tale as the story of how these mountain people defended their land and culture from the powers-that-be.”
Defend Cordillera PH, a group campaigning for global support for the Cordillera people, also started a Change.org petition in October to oppose the demolition. The petition has since garnered more than 7,000 signatures.
Mantakin niyo sa iba't-ibang bahagi ng mundo winawasak ang mga monumento ng mga koloniyador dito sa Pinas sinisira ang monumento ng mga bayani ng mga katutubo! Ang kapal ng mga mukha ng mga pulis! pic.twitter.com/Qb2vj1THX7
— Hustles for Christ (@mikonsepto) January 13, 2021
A number of netizens took to Twitter to express their anger over the removal. Twitter user @mikonsepto notes, “Mantakin niyo sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng mundo winawasak ang mga monumento ng mga koloniyador, dito sa Pinas sinisira ang monumento ng mga bayani ng mga katutubo!”
Photo courtesy of Cordillera Peoples Alliance
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