By NORWIN GONZALES
BONTOC, Mountain Province – Women leaders gathered in Bontoc on September 30 to celebrate the life and struggle of 87-year old Chico Dam protest veteran, Petra Macli-ing. The activity was led by Innabuyog-Gabriela and its Mountain Province chapter, Binnadang.
Fondly called, “Mother Petra” or Tannaw, she juggled between farming, tending to her small business, raising her seven children and activism. She started her work in the movement by defying the proposed mining activities in her hometown, Mainit.
Mother Petra did not limit herself to a narrow view of the struggle, but instead joined and led mobilizations against the Chico Dam Project in Kalinga-Mt. Province and the Cellophil logging activities in Abra. This makes her the only woman to be regarded with the same status as the male peace pact holders in the Cordillera.
Friends, colleagues and family praised her “exemplary” life and described her as “filled with determination” to fight for “land, life and honor.”
The tribute messages also emphasized the need for the youth to continue the struggle that Mother Petra and her colleagues had started.
Youth organization Mountain Province Youth Alliance (MPYA)-Anakbayan took on the challenge with a cultural offering, among other songs and poems dedicated to Mother Petra’s life and work.
A street mural can also be seen down the streets of Bontoc with the face of Mother Petra, alongside other iconic personalities from the town.
Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Chairperson Windel Bolinget hailed Mother Petra as “hero of the Cordilleras,” at a time when the Duterte government honors “thieves and dictators” as heroes. Bolinget refers to the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the “Libingan ng mga Bayani.”
The event coincided with the 12th General Assembly of Binnadang wherein women’s organizations vowed to fight the rising cases of rape and other forms of violence against women and children. They also called to end militarization in IP communities and for the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and the CPP-NPA-NDF. # Norwin Gonzales