By RAYMUNDO ROVILLOS
The book “Ti Daga ket Biag” (Land is Life) is a much awaited publication of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance. It puts together the works of activists and scholars of scholar-activists on and from the Cordillera region.
With Macliing Dulag and other Cordillera martyrs as its inspiration., the book on the land question is out. Photo by Noel Godinez
Most, if not all of the contributors to this book have admirably devoted their knowledge and skills not only in the study of the Cordillera, but also in the struggles to change the perceived structural and systematic causes of inequality and oppression that confront the Cordillera peoples.
Some of the essays found in the book may already be considered “classical” in the sense that they have been cited in the literature on indigenous peoples’ and resource management studies here and abroad. The book is a significant contribution to Cordillera studies on account of the following:
1. It tackles the land problem/s in the Cordillera region from various disciplinal and interdisciplinary perspectives – an approach that has been pursued and articulated like a mantra by colleagues in the College of Social Sciences;
2. It highlights the georgraphies of the land problem in the Cordillera: The authors attempt to situate their arguments within the context of a “locale.” The book illustrates the nuances of the land conflicts in interior rural communities like Sagada, semi-rural and semi-urban communities like Itogon to a highly urbanized Baguio City. In doing this, the authors remind us of the intricate relationship between the general and particular manifestations of the land problem in the Cordillera.
3. The themes of continuity and change are central to the rendering the present-day land problem in the Cordillera.
This historical-”mindedness” of the essays is interesting for those who wish to look into how the sense of memory is articulated and re-articulated in pursuit of present-day contestations over land and resources in the region;
4. In general, the authors of the book take a “positioned” stance as they attempt to explain the nature of the land problem in the Cordillera.
Apparently making a statement against empiricism, majority of the authors argue that one cannot fully understand the nature of the land problem in the Cordillera without taking into consideration the historical and material basis, as well as the class dimensions of the problem.
The book generally speaks for, and in behalf of, the democratic forces in the region, and therefore shows that it is possible to take a stand, and use science in pursuit of a collective vision of a just and humane society.
Overall, the book invites as well as engages the reader to reflect into the dynamic interplay of the categories of class, ethnicity and nation in the unrelenting discourses on “Land and Life.” #