December 26, 2010 in Uncategorized
By MYRA CAGUIOA
INA ENDENA COGASI
INA ENDENA COGASI. She was baptized by the state military as “Mother Cordillera” and “Kumander” because of her intense passion and unwavering commitment in protecting the land, life and resources of the Igorots. Her house in the village of Agawa in Besao, Mt. Province can be easily found because of the campaign posters of past Cordillera Day celebrations, Innabuyog-Gabriela, Gabriela Party List and Bayan Muna, are all plastered on the front wall of her house. But the depth and breadth of her advocacy goes beyond the slogans and calls in those posters.
Ina Endena has been a human rights advocate since the Martial Law years. For her, part of human rights is to be humanitarian, and in very concrete and basic terms for her, feeding the hungry So much so that her house became the “half-way” house of people with different political leanings who visit her house. However, she observed that when elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) come, she has to cook for them, feed them, tend to them and clean up after they have left. Worse, they even get her chickens and harvest her fruits without her permission.
On the other hand, activists would cook for her, feed her, tend to her and clean her house and her backyard. She says, with a laugh, that she feels like a “donya” when they visit. She considers activists fondly as her children, welcoming them always in her home that the soldiers set up a check point at the foot of the hill where her house is located.
Every time she would pass by the checkpoint with a sack or basket, the soldiers ask what was inside. She sarcastically replies “granada” for the pineapples and “landmine” for the avocados and even invites the soldiers to help her bury the “landmine”.
She was also detained by the military because of the suspicion that she was an NPA commander. She was released the next day because she chattered the whole night, scolding the soldiers, which irritated the soldiers. She recalls with enthusiasm how she recounted all these military atrocities to Senator Jovito Salonga during a senate hearing in Bontoc in the 1980s.
She was among the women who actively campaigned for the pull-out of military troops from the communities during the worst years of Oplan Lambat Bitag in the 80s and 90s. They trooped to the barracks of Bontoc to demand justice for human rights violations and a stop to militarization which prompted the government to transfer notorious officials like Jovito Palparan out from Mountain Province.
Ina Endena, who approximates her age to be 86, still continues to fight for the rights of Indigenous people. She has been an active participant in every Cordillera Day celebration. She has also been vocal in community dialogues with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and in the frontline of many protest actions in and out of the region with all courage and militancy. Her courage continues to warm our spirits up to the present. We know that when we will visit her in Agawa, Besao, we will be welcomed by the high-spirited smile of Ina Endena.#