All That Fits: Contradictions about

By ABIGAIL T. BENGWAYAN
www.nordis.net

I read in the Sunday paper that there is a fairly recent movie out there on martial law. It was screened in a few commercial establishments in late May, and is directed by Lav Diaz. I have not seen the film but I encourage those who will have access to it to do so. In the tragedy of our times, I feel that it is important for entertainment to mirror social realities to motivate the people into action and resist injustice. The film is aptly entitled Panahon ng Halimaw. I heard some establishments refused to have it shown for political reasons.

Martial law may have taken place more than 30 years ago but present circumstances tell no different. It is the season of the devil, so to speak. There were a few remarkable statements from the lead actor from the article I read, on why this film must be screened more widely and why the youth should care about the era of martial law in our history. He even said “never again to martial law”.

So if you are rooting for Piolo Pascual, that could be an added motivation to see the film (he did Dekada Sitenta earlier).

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I was just catching up with the positive development of the resumption of the peacetalks when news outfits began reporting on the Philippine government calling it off. Unprepared (hindi pa handa) was the description provided by news sources this morning on the side of the GPh. Sec. Dureza who was interviewed in the morning news today (15 June) said that the peace efforts should gather first the support of the general public. Wey, have there not been sufficient and strong manifestation of public support for the peace negotiations to continue? Guys, please send your statements to the secretary. Baka saan na pay a nabasa, narigat met iman.

In other words though, justice delayed is justice denied. The Filipino people are the final recipients or beneficiaries of the peace talks thus the government should not delay. Why delay something that is for the greater good? Something of such importance for the Filipino people must be treated and certified urgent.

***

HINDIpendence was the catchphrase of activists this week to describe the state of Philippine sovereignty and independence as the 120th commemoration of Philippine Independence Day took place on June 12. Very fitting, as it is right to clarify that Philippine independence was never so, after the momentous day in Kawit, Cavite—it was practically a change of masters thereon, thus the puppet governments and neocolonisation thereafter. Wala tayong ilusyon, thus we continue to struggle for genuine independence and democracy. You cannot celebrate Independence Day when you look around and see injustice or read about them in the news: the third priest to be killed in three months and repulsive statements from the president on the matter; issues surrounding Panatag Shoal with Philippine government acting kimi about it, Mindanao still under martial law and the delay in the peace talks. The list goes on.

But while hindi independent, let us not lose sight of rightfully honouring the memory of our forebears who asserted and fought for Philippine independence. There is no effort more valiant, and I would like to highlight the Igorot resistance for independence during the three hundred-year subjugation of the Spanish crown. I feel that this is important since many textbooks do not discuss it, and there is much discrimination and misinformation in public school textbooks on the identity of indigenous peoples in the Philippines (There is an Inquirer article in the recent op-ed pages that tell of the recent unimaginable blunders—and these books were supposedly reviewed by experts).

To proceed. Have among your must-reads the essay The Defence of Igorot Independence from The Struggle for Igorot Independence by the esteemed William Henry Scott, whose life works recorded Igorot history and identity. The paper was read by the author in 1971, during the First Cordillera Congress for National Liberation in Bontoc.

It starts with an interesting opening paragraph:

IT IS A STRANGE THING that the history textbooks commonly in use in the public and private schools of the Republic of the Philippines never mention the fact that the Igorot peoples of Northern Luzon fought for their liberty against foreign aggressions all during the 350 years that their lowland brethren were being ruled over by Spanish invaders. One history book says we can never know the history of the Filipino people during the Spanish period because they were slaves to the Spaniards or at least forced to play the role of slaves. Certainly this is not true of the Igorots. They were never slaves to the Spaniards nor did they play the role of slaves. Quite the contrary, Spanish records make it clear that they fought for their independence with every means at their disposal for three centuries, and that this resistance to invasion was deliberate, self-conscious, and continuous.

The essay explains how the dichotomy between the uncolonised Igorots of the uplands and the colonized brethren in the lowlands were only apparent during Spanish colonization. Prior to that, the Igorots frequented the lowlands at their disposal, largely to barter.

It also ends with an interesting conclusion, on the price Igorots had to pay for this independence, and why even present day text books still have no mention of that 350 years of resistance from foreign aggression.

And we are right to demand that this injustice be rectified

***

So while habagat hangs around in the next few days, have copies of Dekada Sitenta, Panahon ng Halimaw and The Struggle for Igorot Independence. And write your personal statement of support for the resumption of the peacetalks. # nordis.net

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