By FROILAN WANAGON
TABUK CITY — The peoples movement spearheaded by Cordillera Peoples Alliance Kalinga Chapter offered a final tribute to Mother Catalina Bongaoen during the last night of her wake on May 29 in her residence at Purok 2., Bulanao Norte, Tabuk City.
Mother Catalina died of old age and complicated illness at 94 on May 26 at home.
Moses Bangit of CPA Kalinga said a tribute was offered to Mother Catalina for being an exemplary mother and for her contribution for the common good. Mother Catalina was also a teacher.
Esther Bassia, Chairperson of the Tanglag Community Organization for Unity and Development (TACOUD) shared how Mother Catalina bravely stood up against the dam project during the Marcos regime. She related that Mother Catalina was very vocal during community meetings and confrontations with the military and the National Power Corporation (NPC). She also said that Mother Catalina, used to speak in English whenever she debated with the soldiers in community meetings and dialogues.
Former Governor Atty. Macario Duguiang who was present on the tribute also shared his message and appreciation to Mother Catalina and the Bungaoen couple as their family friends. “During the Dam problem in early days, I was with Atty. Billy Claver and the legal group to support the i-Kalinga opposing the dam project so I witnessed the sacrifices of the people where Catalina was one among them,” Dugiang said.
He also admired Mother Catalina for raising activist children and beyond where two of her sons took up arms and went to the mountains as red fighters. “It is not so easy to a mother having a child with that perspective,” he added.
Retired teacher Mina Linggayo of Tanglag and also a junior co-teacher of Mother Catalina also shared the contributions of Catalina as a teacher. “Auntie Talin was our mentor since she was one among the first teachers in the village then, so I used to approach her and she was unselfish, giving advice and guidance,” she related. “She was not only a good teacher, she also a devoted catholic, Antie Talin used to serve as a catechist in the church and one also who organized the black rosary in the community,” Linggayo added.
Ani Bongaoen, daughter of Mother Catalina and a Cultural activist recalled how their mother raised them anchored with discipline. She also shared how her mother contributed to the peoples’ movement against the Chico dam project. “She used her profession as a teacher to support the opposition to the dam project, she bravely stood up in front of the military during dialogues and spoke in English, and I witnessed when she made a letter addressed to President Ferdinand Marcos,”Ani said.
“What I appreciate with my mother the most is her commitment and her principles, because my father was bribed by the NPC through the PANAMIN but my mother stood up in protest,” she added.
“How can you be contented/happy with the money they will give you if the compensation is seeing your village and the people submerged in return? Those were the words of my mother to Papa,” she further said.
In an emailed message, Abraham Batawang also expressed his sympathy and condolence to the bereaved family. In the letter, Batawang said he first met the Bungaoen couple in his childhood since they were neighbours in Cagaluan gate and admired their generosity. During the height of the chico dam struggle, Battawang opted to join the underground armed struggle as a red fighter, the house of the Bungaoen couple served as his home when their unit was in Tanglag.
“What I never forget that she advised me is that ‘nobody should surrender or become a traitor’. You are a great teacher, your children became activists and some even joined the red army. You gave them the right to choose a path in serving the people,” Batawang said in his letter.
“It is but proper that you should be honored for your contributions to the people’s movement,” the letter ended.
Berto Bongaoen, son of Mother Catalina thanked everybody for their kind words, prayers and tribute.
Mother Catalina was laid to rest in their residence in Bulanao, Tabuk City on May 30. #nordis.net