Our Heritage

This blog was borne as a requirement for one of my undergrad classes. It's been a long time since I added an entry. Now that I have some free time,perhaps it's high time I start writing again... just for the heck of it... ^^

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Souvenirs Anyone?

Souvenirs are probably the best ways to show family and friends that you have been to a particular place. These are little tidbits to remind you of how your ignorance got the better of you during your first visit. And finally on the last day you got the hang of it and you can finally brag to you friends and even people who don’t know you that you had step foot in the city of blah blah blah…

You proudly wear your T-shirts screaming you’ve been to Laoag, Banaue, Cebu, New York and even Pluto. Durian from Davao, strawberries from Baguio and even dates from Saudi Arabia fill your fruit bowls. Carvings and antiques from god-knows-where decorate your house. When people visit, you parade these prizes as if they are the reason for the visit, when in truth, you don’t even know what they are and you only bought them because they seemed cute at the time. Or that you just wanted to flaunt to the world that you have the money to afford such.

But kidding aside, there really are people who buy value souvenirs for the fact that they are souvenirs, a reminder of the places they have been. But why do we buy souvenirs? Aside from being a reminder, we buy souvenirs for the main reason that they are unique, weird, different and the pride of a particular place. These are things exclusive only to that place.

In Baguio City, where tourism is being pushed by the local city government as a way to boost the city’s economy, souvenir shops are have sprouted like mushrooms. Bul-uls (the “granary god” of the Ifugaos) can be bought as necklaces for 35 pesos. The tapis (cloth of the Igorots that is used as a skirt) can be bought for a few hundreds and it even has a mini skirt version. Tourists can have “Kodak moments” with real Igorots for only 5 bucks.

There are shops in malls that offer all kinds of ethnic wears and pieces to anyone who can afford the prices. You can even have an ethnic furniture piece, carving or material custom made for the right price. Even foreigners can avail of these Cordilleran products via internet or through international trade fairs.

But with the success of tourism in the Cordilleras, the issue of bastardization and commercialization of culture has risen. Many progressive groups, like the Dapayan Ti Kultura Ti Kordiyera (DKK), have voiced out their outright objection to the commercialization of culture in the region.

So what is commercialization of culture in the first place? Is just a business related endeavor wherein the trade of Cordilleran products or culture is involved? If an Igorot sells his bul-ul carving to local and foreign tourists, is it considered as commercialization of culture? If Igorots are asked to give cultural dances in Manila to foreign delagates, is it commercialization of culture? Or if the you pass by Mines View  Park and have some picture taking moments with the old Igorots in the area for a fee of 5 pesos, is it commercialization of culture?

Viewing Commercialization

The issue of commercialization of culture is an issue of subjectivity. It is a matter of personal perception and understanding. The selling and buying of Cordilleran products and display of cultures maybe considered as commercialization by some people but not by others.

Pictures for Bread

Let us take the situation of the old Igorots posing for pictures in the Botanical Garden of Baguio City.

The Botanical Garden is also known as the “Igorot Village”. It features native huts of the Cordillerans amidst the flora and fauna that thrive in the cool climate of Baguio City. Tourists can usually take pictures with the Igorots dressed in their ethnic attires of tapis for women and bahag/g-string for men. There are also souvenir shops in the area that sell handicrafts and other Cordilleran products.

I learned from a friend, who conducted interviews with the old folks of the area, that the Igorots posing for pictures came from the provinces of Ifugao and Mt. Province. Others said that they were from the “ili” a generic term for "province", probably to spare their “kai-lian” from stereotypes and other derogatory remarks about them and their place of origin.

When they were asked why they came to Baguio, they all answered the same thing, it was due to poverty. Agriculture is the livelihood of most people of the provinces in the Cordilleras. True as it may seem that they can afford to eat three times a day, it cannot be denied that they too need money to buy other basic needs like clothing, medicine, and to pay for travel fares and their debts. During this time wherein prices are literally soaring high, a hundred pesos to them is already a big amount.

The Igorots at present are facing so many issues regarding their ancestral domains. The effects of dams, mining and logging in the Cordillera have lead to the displacement and loss of livelihood of the IPs of the place. Non security of resources, food and safety have caused some of the old folks of the “ili” to come to Baguio. They want to find ways to improve their living condition and basically survive.

They pose for pictures with tourists in order to earn money. They are paid five pesos per person for each shot. During ordinary days, they make at least 10-20 pesos per day and at least 50 pesos on most weekends. They said that they make higher pays on holidays especially on the Lenten Season and during the Christmas vacation.

The money is just enough to feed them for a day and take them home to rest their weary bones. Looking closely, “just enough” for them is their way of saying “I can still work tomorrow.” In short, they depend on the influx of tourists for their survival.

After waiting all day, sitting on the ground and enduring the heat of the sun or the cold wind, they go home to their small houses/"kubo-kubo" as they call it, in Dreamland, Baguio City. Ironic as it may seem, but after all the hardships of the day, they go home to a place called "Dreamland", dreaming of a better land and life, ignoring the dilapidated houses where they stay in.

When asked if they have families, they all said yes. They left their families in the provinces and they came to Baguio to earn their own living. Their families have families of their own and they do not want to be a burden  to them since life is already a battle for them.

Going back to the earlier question, are these people then commercializing culture?

Commercialization and the Academic View

Another way of viewing the issue of commercialization is through the lens of education. A friend mine said that some of the elders of their village do not view the display of their dances and songs and the selling of material cultures as a form of commercialization or bastardization. Some are actually happy that they are able to share to the world their unique heritage.

If an Ifugao carver mass produces the bul-ul and sells, is it commercilization of culture? If he did it for the sake of money alone, then I say yes, it is commercilization of culture. But if he knew the essence of the bul-ul and his intention was for survival and for the knowledge of o thers who might take interest in the bul-ul, then it becomes another story.

If a business man buys and sell a tapis and a bahag for the sake that it makes greater money since it appeals to foreigners, then yes, he is commercializing culture. But if the foreigner who bought the tapis or the bahag bought it out of curiosity that lead him to learn and understand something about the culture of the Igorots, then the commercialization has resulted in an academic purpose.

Sometimes, ethnic products are bought for this very purpose-academic learning. A bul-ul is bought because it is unique and is exclusive to the Ifugaos alone. It is the rice granary god of the Ifugaos. It is a part of the Ifugao people's rich culture, a part of their lifestyle. This commercialization then leads to the learning of the Ifugao culture. This can lead to the understanding of cultures and traditions. This then helps destroy the misconception that the Igorots, like the Ifugaos, are barbaric.

An Analysis

Commercialization and bastardization of culture are very powerful words. But as mentioned earlier, it is a matter of personal discretion. Yes, commercialization of culture exists in the Cordilleras. But it is more often than not driven by economic reasons. But even in this context, there are always two ways of viewing the matter.

On the negative side, yes, people like the old Igorot folks posing in the Botanical Garden are being exploited. They were driven out of their place due to economic and socio-political reasons, and are worked in an underground economy. They are exploited and reduced to mere things and objects for the pleasure of visitors and foreigners' eyes.

But who can blame these people for doing what they do? Where will they look for food in the first place? When it comes to this situation, will commercialization matter if it meant their survival?

On the other hand, commercialization of culture can be seen in a positive light. It can bring about learning and education to the curious and interested. This is provided that the portrayal of the culture is right. If it is otherwise, like using a tapis in a mini skirt version in a beauty pageant, it only brings about misconception and reinforcement of negative stereotypes of the Igorots.

Commercialization is inevitable since culture is always changing in order to adapt to the changing times.Thus, care must be taken when culture is presented.

Monday, October 09, 2006


An IP in a Mining Community

It is truly very difficult for someone like me who grew up in a mining community and a student studying in the University of the Philippines to give a solid stand on the issue of mining.

I grew up in the mining community of Philex Camp 3, Tuba, Benguet. Philex Mining Corporation is one of the biggest gold and copper producing companies in the Philippines. It is second to Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company in Mangkayan, Benguet.

Known as a responsible mining company, Philex has maintained an impressive track for over 54 years. It is one of the mining companies that has helped sustain the mining industry of the country due to its rich production of gold, silver and copper. With this comes its reputation of taking great consideration of its employees and their families’ welfare. This includes providing them with working benefits, free housing and city services, and low cost quality education for their children.

Looking back, I owe much to the Philex community. This is where I grew up and got an education that landed me where I am today. Since I learned how to think, it has instilled in my mind that I am a product of this mining community and that I should be proud of it.

But coming to the University of the Philippines and learning of the destructive ways of mining and especially being a part of an organization that aims to promote and protect the indigenous cultures, I face a dilemma on how to react to the mining issues.

Although it maybe true that I am a product of the Philex mining community, that it had provided for my education and is the source of income for many families like my own, I cannot deny the fact that I too am an IP and that I have the responsibility to protect my heritage, my tawid.

In UP, I have been taught the value of being an IP and in accepting one’s identity. It has been in this institution that it has come to my knowledge of the various issues that IPs face. One of them is mining and the long time effects that in has on the affected areas.

As an IP, I feel the need to take action towards the abuse of IP domains for some people’s quest for power. It cannot be denied that Philex has done great damage to the ancestral lands of Tuba, Benguet. Mountains are damaged as ores are extracted. Waters are contaminated and the flora and fauna of affected areas decrease dramatically.

Although Philex has claimed itself to be a responsible mining company, it cannot be denied that there is no such thing as rehabilitation of the environment once damage has been inflicted.

I am not saying that Philex Mining Company should be shut down. That would leave a devastating blow to the country’s economy. Like Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company, Philex is one of the earliest established mine in the country. It has provided jobs for many people, IPs and non-IPs alike.

What I am saying is that the opening of new large scale mines in the country especially in the Cordilleras should be stopped. As for established mines, a close watch should be done so as to lessen the damage that these mines could further inflict.

Mining and the IPs

Perhaps one problem why even the IPs themselves are into large scale mining could be dated back in history. It could be assumed that during the early days, they were not educated on the possible effects of mining to their ancestral domains.

This is also the problem that could be said in the approved Mining Act of 1995 and the Revitalized Mining Act of 1997. Not everyone especially those that could be affected by the Act are aware of the devastating consequences of the mining act to the environment and the people themselves.

The Mining Act of 1995 and the Revitalized Mining Act of 1997 are against the recognition of the collective rights, interests and welfare of the indigenous communities. In the Charter Change proposed by the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, it gives a 100% ownership of the land to foreign investors, thus giving them the right to explore potential mining sites even if it could mean the displacement of IPs and exploitation of ancestral lands.

During Arroyo’s term, 5,000 mining permits have been granted in 6 months alone. As of January 2006, two exploration permit applications (ExPAs) were approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) to a Swedish owned Wofland Resources Inc. and Makilala Mining Co. in the province of Kalinga.

True as it may be that this could mean more jobs for people, will this be at the expense of the environment and the loss of other people’s home and lives.
Proper education is needed in order to truly understand the effects of mining. IPs give great importance to their land. This is their home, their life. Many have showered their blood that their lands be saved from mines and dams. Let us not put their deaths in vain.


I was watching the Tyra Banks show two weeks ago and I chanced upon an episode wherein they were conducting an experiment on first impressions.

They invited a group of individuals and asked them about their impression on a Muslim woman, an Asian woman, a Latina and a Black American woman. The response they got was shocking. The group labeled the Muslim woman a terrorist, the Asian an intelligent successful woman, the Latina a maid, and the Black American woman an illiterate and on crack.

It was truly shocking because the reactions on the Tyra show can be seen in the Philippines alone with the Muslims, Christians and IPs of the country.

Last August, we attended a video conference in UP Diliman where the topic was about “Prejudice Towards Ethnic and Religious Minorities in the Philippines”. As IP delegates, this was a sensitive issue for us.

When the question on what comes to mind when the word Muslim was asked, one answer reigned supreme, “TERRORISTS”. Others like “mananakaw” or thief, “namimirata” or people who adhere to piracy in the country (based on Philippine context) followed.

When the word IP was asked, many were dumbfounded. They did not know what it meant. But once we enumerated the IPs as the Igorots, Aetas, Manobo, etc., words like “barbaric”, “illiterate”, “backward”, and “immoral” came flooding in.

Hurtful as the words may seem, we cannot help but ask where they got their views. Some said through the radio, television, newspapers, while others say that it was instilled in them since childhood.


We build prejudices or our negative attitudes and opinions about people based on the fact that their religion, or race is different from our own, thus we label them as inferior.

We base our prejudices on stereotypes or oversimplified generalization of people. These are stereotypes that are brought by the sensationalization of the media, or by generalizations of our elders.

The most devastating part is when we discriminate or we act on the basis of our prejudices or our stereotypes. We put other people down and worse, deny them something that they are entitled to by right and law like livelihood and education.

This is especially true for our Muslim brothers/ sisters who are denied jobs because of the mere fact that they are Muslims or Maguindanaons.

This further leads to oppression. It becomes legalized, internalized and systematized in society. This is the worst condition because it makes it all seem ok to discriminate when it really is not. It becomes a cycle that is reinforced by schools, media and even the church.

The conflict that results from this kind of thinking that “we are better than them” can become so hostile that it is passed down from generation to generation. We end up hating each other and the sad part is that we do not even know how or why the hate stated.

But the truth is that the cause of conflict is not truly because of differences in religion or ethnicity. Rather, conflicts are borne out of a people’s experience of economic inequality, political discrimination and human rights violations. Religious and ethnic differences are merely used to provoke passions and anger.

As the future leaders of this country, what then can we do?

We should start with TOLERANCE within our own selves then we let it grow to our families, communities and the nation. We should learn that accept, respect and appreciate the fact that there is diversity in the world’s cultures. These are our ways of being human.

We are all human beings and that we are naturally diverse/ different in appearance, situation, speech, behavior and values. Let us open our minds and understand other people and be educated in other people’s ways of living. Muslims, Christians or IPs, we are all the same.

Let us remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “I have a dream that my four little children one day will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Lastly, let us bear in mind EMPATHY, that before we start discriminating others, let us put ourselves in their shoes and feel the impact of our own discrimination.

Let us challenge the discrimination and oppression that is at hand. The cycle is rolling but we have the power to break that cycle when we start to question and raise our consciousness about what is truly happening in our society. We are given the will, the power to think. Let us use it to achieve EQUITY and a better society, for us, our children and the generations ahead.

With this I leave you a poem by the 16 year old Amy Maddox.

He prayed, it wasn’t my religion.
He ate, it wasn’t what I ate.
He spoke, it wasn’t language.
He dressed, it wasn’t what I wore.
He took my hand, it wasn’t the color of mine.
But when he laughed, it was how I laughed.
And when he cried, it was how I cried.

LINK: www.peacetech.net


Victims of Political Killings

The Philippines has become a hotspot of political killings. Statistics conducted by various independent monitoring bodies show that to date, there have been 271 disappearances and, 740 killings of activists and members of the media under the Arroyo administration.

As for the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) communities, there are 73 cases of indigenous persons subjected to extrajudicial killings since 2005. The most recent is the shooting of Bayan Muna-Kalinga Chairperson Dr. Constancio “Chandu” Claver Jr. on July 31 in Bulanao, Tabuk, Kalinga.

The killers ambushed Claver’s van with high powered rifles. The shooting resulted in the death of Ms. Alyce Claver, Constancio’s wife and an active member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA). Their 11-year old daughter Cassandra survived the shooting along with her father, but is deeply traumatized by the incident.

The Clavers are known to be advocates of human rights and justice. Chandu Claver is considered as “the doctor of the masses” in Kalinga where he has served for decades. He is also one of the founding members of the CPA-Kalinga Chapter. His wife Alyce on the other hand was an invaluable support to her husband and was a devoted mother to their three children. Alyce will be forever be remembered as a martyr of the people for she took a bullet that was aimed at her husband.

It can also be recalled that CPA Regional Elders desk Coordinator and Bayan Muna-Kalinga Vice Chairperson Rafael Markus Bangit was assassinated on June 8 of this year in Isabela province. He had a record that involved him in the campaign against the construction of the Chico River Dam and was one of the greatest assets in educating and informing the people of the various issues surrounding the IPs of the country.

At present, fingers are being pointed to the Arroyo administration. The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the military operatives in the respective provinces are said to be responsible for the killings. And although the president has appointed the Melo Commission to investigate the increasing political killings of activists and critical media people, the funny thing is that no perpetrator has been identified and brought to justice.

Probing the Arroyo Administration

It is truly ironic that the Arroyo administration claim with pride that it was elected as member of the Human Rights Council and that it has an Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA), when the bodies of victims of extrajudicial killings pile up as the president consumes her term. The numbers of these victims are appalling, surpassing even that of the Marcos Regime when the country was under Martial Law.

If the police and the appointed Melo Commission have not caught even a single suspect of the killing of activists and media people, can we conclude than that they are incompetent? Or worse, are they perhaps protecting people of their own rank that no perpetrator has been apprehended? What kind of government then do we have?

In a press release of the president last September, on the first working day of her appointed Commission, she absolved the military of the blame and dumped the blame fof the killings instead on the opposition and the “Left”.

On the other hand, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesperson, Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, struck back and said that the Melo commission was a big joke on a press release on September 2. He further reiterated that the commission was only formed to wash Arroyo’s blood-stained hands, and cover up the role of the military in the political killings.

An Analysis

With all the blame throwing and finger pointing adding to the political turmoil in the country today, who then should the people, believe? Who then should the people trust? If the government cannot ensure the basic right to life of its citizens, and to RESPECT, PROTECT, PROMOTE and FULFILL human rights, then it is failing its responsibilities and obligations to the International Human Rights Law. The question now states us in the face: Could people be blamed then for taking actions to right the wrong that they see in society?

Markus Bangit, Alyce Claver, along with other IP victims of political killings, are just a few of the people who died fighting for a better Cordillera, for a better nation. They are two of the few who dared to come out and speak for the indigenous peoples. They were silenced for their commitment and advocacy to indigenous peoples’ rights and human rights.

They are few of the people who had the guts to expose the issues on human rights violations. They were people who educated their fellow IPs in hopes of opening their eyes to the abuses to their rights. In doing so, they incurred the wrath of the power hungry people as they posed a threat to achieving their own personal gains. Thus, they paid the price with their lives.

Looking back, one cannot miss the irony that surrounded these people’s deaths. What is so ironic is the fact that Claver and Bangit were assassinated at the time that the beginning of the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is being celebrated. It is also the time that the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples has been adopted by the Human Rights Council. This is despite the abstention of the Philippines to vote. This is supposed to guarantee the full recognition of the IPs rights. Hope remains that this will put an end to the continuing violation of human rights, not just in words but also in action.

The question then pops up: the Philippine government has expressed its full support on the plight of the IPs in the country, why then does the Philippine government refuse to sin the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during the UN General Assembly?

Why are there people like Bangit, Claver, Macliing Dulag and the likes, who continue to fight for the IPs right to their land, their life and their human rights? What good is the IPRA if the implementation is weak? Where is the government’s political will?

Looking back at history, the IPs of the Philippines have been marginalized since the Spanish regime. Up to date, the government that has the responsibility to protect its people, has failed to meet the needs of the IPs of its country. The sad part is that the government itself has played a part in the abuse and exploitation of the IPs and their lands. Many IPs have died and many more have been displaced due to the dams and mines that were permitted by the government to be built. Can we then blame Claver and Bangit who fought to protect their heritage?


Cliché as it may seem, but we the youth are the hope of tomorrow. If so, then let us empower ourselves and be aware of what is happening to our country and its peoples. This is the only way that we can start to make a change in our country.

To my fellow IPs, let us not forget the heritage that our elders fought and died for that we may experience the richness of our culture today. Let us always remember our community, our roots, and our land. Let us not put in vain the sacrifices of Marcus Bangit, Alyce Claver, Macliing Dulag and many others who fought to keep our identities and heritage in tact.

Hapit, Vol. XIV, No. 2, April-June 2006 issue

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blogging as Journalism

A forum aiming to shed light on the issue of blogging as a form of journalism was conducted 4 pm today.

Mr. Rollando Fernadez, Senior Editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) Northern Luzon and professor of the University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB), gave a short talk on the role that blogging plays in the development of news today.

He affirmed that “Yes! Blogging is journalism. The future is there.” He further added that blogging has helped journalists in the analysis of issues and especially in the production of community papers wherein limited funding is often the problem.

“Blogging has a bright future. You can become your own publisher…in 5 years time.” he said. He also added that readers can get more information in blogs since “ Blogging democratizes the flow of new. ” Readers can react though their comments and tips about an article thus allowing the participation of more people.

As for the issue of blogging signaling the death of the printing industry, Fernandez reiterated that the on-line and print version of news often compliment each other although he admitted that the on-line version has its advantages in terms of faster updating of the news.

He also added that although blogging has its advantages, he also warms that publishers of entries must also be responsible with regards to what they write. Honesty and fairness must be exercised. And refraining from plagiarism must be observed. Bloggers must always proper ethics as it more important than skills.

Students of Journalism 113 (On-line Journalism) attended the forum in room 204 of the University of the Philippines Baguio.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Root of Conflict

The root of conflict in the Philippines is injustice. Injustice brought about by the inability of the governmet to fulfill the needs of the people and the lack of recognition of rights especially of the ethnic minorities of the country.

In a study conducted by the United Nations, the poverty line in the Philippines is defined by an income of a meager 21 php per day for a Filipino family. Sadly, the government has not done anything to allevate the condition of its people.

The Philippines is truly rich in natural resources. But the land, which is the main source of all the people's needs, is in danger due to the implementation of the Philippine Mining Act of 1997 allowing foreign ownership and control of mining companies. And although claims of responsible mining have been made, there can never truly be a rehabilitation of the environment once the damage has been inflicted.

Due to the lack of access to our own natural resources, struggles for reclaim to such access have endangered human security. Many have opted to take arms and take back the land that is theirs.

In Mindanao, 65 percent of the settlers are Christian. The ancestral domains of the Muslims based on their sultanates and the lumad communities were not recognized by the government, resulting to the displacement of these minorities. This conflict in land dates back to the American colonization when titles of land became the basis of ownership. Since Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines have not accepted the technicality of land registration, no such titles were presented.
Same is true with the case of the Cordilleras. They too have protested against the exploitation of their natural resources. One of the most famous of these protests was the struggle of the Kalinga against the building of the Chico Dam. In the 70's and 80's, the Chico dam was constructed to become the largest dam in Asia under the Infrastructure development plan of President Marcos. A community in the region led by Ama Macliing Dulag began a protest against its construction. An ideal of land as life was portrayed by this protest as Dulag himself gave up his in the midst of struggle.
On April 24, 1980, two houses in Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga were rained upon with bullets. These houses belonged to Dulag and another local leader, Pedro Dungoc. The gunmen were identified as members of the Philippine military. The assasination gave life to an even bigger movement for the reclaiming of land. The people of Kalinga were awakened by the death of Dulag to stand for the taking back of the land and life that they rightfully owned. Up to now, the Igorots continue to fight for their land as they live by Dulag's words:

[T]o claim a place is the birthright of every man. The lowly
animals claim their place, how much more man. Man is born
to live. Apu Kabunian, lord of us all, gave us life and placed
us in this world to live human lives. And where shall we
obtain life? From the land. To work the land is an obligation,
not merely a right. In tilling the land you possess it. And so
land is a grace that must be nurtured. Land is sacred. Land is
beloved. From its womb springs our Kalinga life.
The resloution to these continuous and complex injustices in the name of land is to have a true kind of land reform. A reform that will really be implemented. To achieve this, we will need political will and communal efforts.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Youth and Technology Towards Peace Building

Facing the reality of ongoing wars in the world, the United Nations International Children's Education Fund (UNICEF) launches a program that taps the potentials of the youth as ambassadors of peace.

The project is called Peace Tech 2006. It is geared to unite the youthof the country to promote understanding in war torn countries in hopes of achieving the coveted peace. Starting in the Philippines that is home to "People Power", Peace Tech uses technology to attain its goal of promoting dialogue between the Muslim, Indigenous and Christian youth of Mindanao and Luzon. "It will give them a unique opportunity to express, listen and unite over concerns about the future and their country's future.", explains the project manager Robin Pettyfer.

Pettyfer has prepared a seven part video conference series for the six year project. It started with a work shop last July 22 at Palma Hall of the Univerity of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. A general overview "Peace Tech" served as the introduction in the said event.The workshop also became a training for an estimate of 60 young ambassadors of peace who will be facilitating the first video conference on July 31.

The conference entitled "Moving from Conflict to Understanding" will be hosted by Bam Aquino and Baicon Macaraya. It will be held at ULS Convention Hall in Mindanao and at the NISMED Auditorium in Up Diliman for Luzon. The speakers from the Arm Forces of the Philippines (AFP), former fighters, peace builders and victims of conflict, poverty and discrimination, will be sharing their experiences that will later be analyzed by the participants.

Most of the conferences in the "Peace Tech" series will focus on the different kinds of conflict and the analysis of the steps the comunities are taking to resolve the problem. The series will run from July to December of this year with the University of the Philippines Baguio hosting the conference on October.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sona: GMA's Ambitious Plans

In the longest ever recorded State of the Nation Address in Philippine history, president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reveals her ambitious plans for the country in the next three years. The Sona last Monday at the Batasan Pambansa Complex, was focused on the developent of the countryside in order to boost the economic stability of the Philippines.

Harnessing the potentials of the "super regions-"of-the-Philippines: the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle, the Metro Luzon Urban Beltway, Central Philippines, Mindanao and the Cyber Corridor, was GMA's way of addressing the problems that the country is facing. Like former president Marcos, the Arroyo administration will be pushing for the development of infrastructures, increasing investors in the country and the mobilization and upgrading of production technology.

"In North Luzon, we will prioritize agribusiness investments. The agricultural and fisheries potential of the Cordilleras, Ilocandia, and Cagayan Valley can feed Luzon affordably. And nearness to North Asia holds the rich promise of agricultural exports and tourism." ,Arroyo explained.

The Metro Luzon Urban Beltway project is her vision to strengthen the local economy by building a continuous land and nautical highway for product transportation from region to region. Aside from economic gains, this project shall improve the fight against insurgency and rebel rule in barangays in the country.

Central Philippines will become a haven for tourism."The area sweeps across Palawan and Romblon, the Visayas and Bicol, plus the northern Mindanao islands of Camiguin, Siargao and Dapitan. Topbilled by Boracay, Cebu, Bohol and Palawan, it attracts more than half of the foreign tourists to the Philippines. ", Arroyo said.

The president is also eyeing agribusiness investments in Mindanao due to its "...fertile and largely typhoon-free [lands], exporting coconut products and high value crops, and from its waters come 40% of the country's fish catch.", she remarked.

On the otherhand, as an answer to greater ob opportunities, Arroyo presented the Cyber Corridor project. This aims to to open more call center agencies in the super regions fromBaguio to Cebu to Davao, to improve the telecommunications, technology and education of the country.

In order to put to effect the project of harnessing the potentials of the "super regions",
Arroyo calls for peace and unity among the Filipinos." We are a great people.We have scaled the heights of Mount Everest, dominated the Southeast Asian games, we have won international beauty titles, and of course punched our way to triumph in the boxing world.Together, we must take on the challenge of creating a new, peaceful, humane and competitive nation and prevail."

She also challenged her detractors saying "For those who want to pick up old fights, we're game... But what a waste of time. Why not join hands instead?"

After 166 rounds of applause, the president ended her Sona by thanking "all the true friends of the Filipino people". "Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart," she said.

Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 25,2006 issue

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Formation of Identity, Nan Tawid Mi (Our Heritage)

Culture plays an important role in the foundation of a person's identity. Wars have been fought. Empires have risen and fallen. But culture will forever remain. It is the mark of a nation's greatness or a reminder of what was.

The Latin word colere, which means enrichment, is the root word of culture. Thus the birth of culture beca,e the basi of a civilization. (Wikipedia, 2006) The Philippines during the Spanish era, is an example of this context equation. Pigafetta and his chronicles of Magellan's voyages emphasized the absence of a unifying culture depicted the lack of civilization.

In this time and age, culture is valued in studies because it gives identity to a nation and its a people. It is a great influence in one's formation of his personality. It is a force that dictates right from wrong since a person's whole being swims in culture. It encompasses history, values, customs and traditions in a specific time and place. As a person necomes immersed in culture, he starts a journey of discovery towards his own identity. It starts with knowing his personal history and the domains of his ancestors. Along with this discovery of identity is the freedom of a individual to accept or reject what he has found. Since nobody can impose identity to a person he or she has the freedom to choose the identiy he or she wants.(Villalon, 2005)

In the Cordilleran comunity, identity is incorporated in culture. Since culture is regarded as an inheritance from the elder generation, so is his identity. This is his heritage, his tawid.

Tawid is an Ilocano/Cordilleran term meaning gift. For the Cordilleran family, this is the process of passing or handing down tradition, culture, practices, ideas, beliefs, and material possession to the next generation. (Villalon, 2005)

The elders (apos or the lallakays) are in charge of the passing down of traditions and beliefs to the youth of the community. Thus idenity formation is a very important process since the existence of the Cordilleran culture depends on it.

The identity can be associated to the building of a traditional house. The most important part is the ecology that includes the land. It is owned by the whole community and defines culture and life. The land become the foundation of the houseand also the foundation where the community begins its legend.

The post of the house represents the customs and traditions that is the binding force that holds the Cordillerans together. The stairs symbolizes language. Speaking one's language is the entrance to be accepted in a community thus into a house and culture. This part of identity includes the family and relatives in the learning process because they teach the language.

Inside the house, one can see the effort and hardship that has been given to build the house. It is a symbol of the importance they give to work. The great detail that the workers give to building the house shows the great value they have for the importance of the home.

The structure of the house is also a symbol. It compares to the heirarchial structure of the home wherein the father is the head of the home.

The floor or the papag is the representation of their history. It is the foundation of knowledge and support of the Cordillerans.

The walls of the house where decorations are hanged symbolizes the aesthetical value of music, arts and literature in the Cordillerans. They acknowledge the fact that the walls are replaced through time and it also accepted that the arts also change.

As they gaze out the windows, other houses can be seen. Their relationship is bonded by the view. The door is an open welcome to their fellow Cordillerans.

The last part of the house is the roof. It represents the spiritual life of the Cordillerans. It is their beliefs and their acknowledgement of a higher power.

In this light, identity can come from various aspects of life, not only in culture. Identity is freely chosen but culture can be rejected. The existence of culture is dependent on the acceptance and enrichment of those who are privileged to own it. When one seeks out his identity he or she can leave his or her tawid behind and create his own.

When one chooses not to accept his tawid we can never say that he is no longer himself. Although I hope that when one rejects he should never forget.