By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
On the news, aside from the bickerings in the senate, is the contingent of marching indigenous peoples groups from southern and northern Philippines who have arrived and converged in the National Capital Region (NCR). It is the third of the yearly long march staged by organized national minority groups in the country to observe the month and International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
With, the Lakbayan ng Pambasang Minorya para sa Sariling Pagpapasya at Makatarungang Kapayapaan (The march of national minorities for self-determination and just peace) as the venue, the national minorities chose to amplify their voice against national oppression. This time, particularly against the growing tyrany of the state.
From their villages to the urban centers they marched, they hiked, rode trikes, jeepneys, boats and buses; they visited (nakisanga-ili, nepan-adivay) other peoples along their way to (the) NCR to make known the cruel situation at home (in what is left of their ancestral domains, their communities, their culture and territories) that is being inflicted by state forces against their lives and livelihood; That is being inflicted by a dominant culture directed at decimating them by ethnocide proportions against their history, against that they and their ancestors collectively held sacred — Land, Life and Resources.
Their simply being indigenous peoples who upheld and defended their homes, their dignity, the future and their people made them an enemy of tyranical states and government administrations that until today under neo-colonial forces mean to take what is left of their ancestral domain resources for very selfish profits of imperial proportions. Not to support the needs of the majority Filipino people or the Philippine nation but foreign imperialists.
Meanwhile, September 1 is Baguio City’s charter day. By data histories, the charter of Baguio is still the document that formalized the ‘grabbing’ of the lands and livelihood of the Ibaloys or original settlers of the area the charter described as Baguio City, 108 years ago (September1909).
Although the very Supreme Court of the US colonial government then has upheld the Igorot’s Native Title to their ancestral lands/domains on February 23, 1909 (Doctrine of Native Title), with many limitationsof the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), and the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007, the Philippine government has yet to truly comply, respect and recognize the national minorities’ rights to their ancestral domains and to self-detemination.
Baguio City most of all, who for 108 years still fails to recognize and respect the Ibaloy national minorities’ rights to their ancestral lands and to self-detemination. The City’s making the Ibaloy community join the Baguio Day parade seems to be, painfully, the only token of recognition they have honestly given for these people.
The simple rejection being displayed against the presumptive indigenous peoples mandatory representative of Baguio (which in similar terms is even provided for in the City Charter) just shows how much smaller the local government leaders view the Baguio natives. It also displays how much the natives have abandoned their unity and traditional cultural community values like the sanctity of the pantavtaval, of the dignity in serving their people. # nordis.net