By CONNIE HAPULON
Ub-ubbo is a traditional Ifugao practice to strengthen the unity of women by helping each other. This practice should be nurtured and valued. However, it has eroded mostly due to the cash economy. It is not just the cash economy that has hurt Ifugaos, national policies and programs have adversely impacted their lives. Recently, women came together to listen, understand and each attested to the worsening plight in Ifugao.
The women spoke about how Ifugaos have for generations nurtured and cultivated their land for survival. Thus for Ifugaos, land is life.This Life was threatened when Chevron, Ayala-Sta Clara, SN-Aboitiz entered Ifugao with proposals to develop “clean” energy. However, the dark side to this unwanted development aggression has brought with it human rights violations and violations to Indigenous People’s rights.
When the Ifugao communities resist development aggression like they did in the municipality of Tinoc, the State sent the military to pacify the people. These intense military operations are part of Duterte’s All-out-war on the people. Particular to the Cordillera region, indigenous peoples are targeted by the anti-insurgency program, Oplan Kapayapaan for defending their land, livelihood, and resources. This all-out-war has disturbed the people’s way of life, most especially the women who cannot tend to their farms regularly because of fear. Leaders and organizers of peoples’ organizations and rights advocates are also tagged and vilified as NPAs or NPA supporters.
Just as land is life, water is also life. Women from Banaue complained that the water district is metering their water when they used to have free water from the springs. The concept of paying for water is a ridiculous concept for those who never had to do such a thing. On the other hand, women in Lamut voice their opposition to the Alimit dam since the there is a strong possibility that the irrigation flow to their fields would decrease.
While land and water is affected by the cash economy, unwanted development aggression, and intense militarization, Ifugaos are also hit hard by the passage of the TRAIN law (tax reform for acceleration and inclusion). Cost of living has risen with most basic household essentials. Ifugao women worried that they could no longer afford living in the land that was nourished by their ancestors.
The women fear that they are being driven away to seek a better life. This goes hand in hand with the The labor export policy (LEP) and neo-liberal education. The LEP has already separated many family members. Education is tailored to the world market and not based on the needs of the country encouraging many who finished their education to also go abroad.
The women were challenged to strengthen the Ub-Ubbo to confront Duterte’s tyrannical rule which have led to worsening socio-economic conditions. The women pinpointed the need to educate other women and help each other. They said only through collective efforts will their problems be solved. One woman said that women should not be afraid to confront those who come to destroy the land, life, and the resources we have. # nordis.net