By BRYAN JOHN BIMMACTAD
During a Green Youth Ifugao (GYI) outreach to Dulao, one of the far flung barangays in Lagawe, I couldn’t help but notice the beauty and simplicity of not just of the community but of their school. Dulao Elementary School, aside from not having a library, is a typical barangay based school striving to cater to all of its 170 pupils. With so many students you would not think it would be located in a remote and difficult place to access.
It is a known fact to the locals that Dulao is difficult to reach. Even social services fail to reach them most of the time. Despite its distance from the Ifugao capital and Lagawe town center, Dulao strives to survive on the community’s self-reliance with little aid coming from outside. The people make do with what little they have.
This vibrant, beautiful, and poor community was once threatened by the construction of the Magat dam. Many affected landowners were relocated but many also returned, back to their land years later. The locals say that their identity is tied to their relation to the land.
Today their identity as Ayangan Indigenous Peoples is threatened once more by the proposed Alimit Dam. If the dam is built, areas of Dulao shall be submerged aside from being buried by the worsening siltation from the continuing effect of the present Magat Dam reservoir which will surely have a big impact on the people and their livelihood. Another threat is from greedy politicians in connivance with the Alimit Dam project holder who are attempting to convince the people to approve the dam project even if there are still serious issues raised by the people in the community. These politicians and their lackeys see the land, water resources of the people’s continued livelihood as rich sources for private profit. These greedy politicians only think of wealth sharing that will benefit themselves particularly through ‘taxes’ while SN Aboitiz touts corporate social responsibility (CSR), in a subtle way to swindle the people of their common resources.
One of the pressing issues now is a boundary conflict where the Dulao community insist strongly that the location of the proposed dam is within their territory and therefore they are wary that the project will affect their land. While people and the barangay council demand that the company must pay and rent the affected lands, a number however, of the community folk say they will never leave Dulao.
In connection to the school, the community say that the Dulao Elementary School, which is under constant threat of being flooded even under light rain, will be wiped out if the dam is built. It is also a demand of the community that the school be relocated and be fully equipped especially if the dam project proceeds. # nordis.net