In commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan, various groups and organizations joined forces at Quezon City to honor individuals and organizations “courageously fighting for democracy and human rights amid the state of tyranny and repression that grips the country today”. The activity was organized by Movement Against Tyranny (MAT), Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI), and Coalition against Darkness and Dictatorship. They awarded “Pagkilala sa Kagitingan” to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Serreno, organization Rise up for Life and Joanna Carino, co-chairperson of national minority alliance SANDUGO.
A true-blue Baguio girl, Joanna is the second eldest of the eight children of Josefina Kintanar Carino and Atty. Jose Cortes Carino Jr. She is also among the direct descendants of Mateo and Bayosa Carino of Kafagway, the traditional owners of Baguio City. A proud Ibaloi, it was participating in canaos during her childhood where she learned to dance tayao and ate demshang (roasted pork), pinuneg (blood sausage) and pising (boiled gabi stalks). She proudly wears the Ibaloi divit especially in protests. “We should wear our indigenous attire and dignity in struggle,” she says, amidst criticism that indigenous attire should not be used in rallies.
In 1969, while studying at the then-University of the Philippines College Baguio (UPCB), Joanna became a member of the national democratic (ND) youth organization, Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and supported the then-striking workers and market vendors fighting against demolition. In 1974 together with sister Joji, she illegally arrested, detained, and tortured in Camp Olivas for two years. One day, while in detention dozens of Kalinga tribespeople from Chico dam affected areas were herded into the camp.
Upon release from detention in 1976, Joanna was inspired by the growing people’s resistance in the Cordilleras to the Chico Dam and Cellophil Resources Corporation, then identified by Marcos as two of his priority economic projects that would dispossess hundreds of indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands.
Joanna attended bodong conferences where the tribal elders would exhort their people to unite and defend their ancestral lands and their indigenous way of life. Traditional forms of song and dance such as the sallidummay, uggayam, ullalim were performed but infused with new revolutionary content. The traditional bodong which is a bilateral peace pact between two tribes is transformed into a multi-lateral bodong in an effort to unite all the communities that would be affected.
The treacherous murder of Chico Dam opposition leader Ama Macliing Dulag by the Philippine Constabulary in 1980 became a major turning point in the struggle of Cordillera peoples and generated national and international attention to the plight of indigenous peoples.”
After a brief stint as a faculty member in Anthropology and Economics at the University of the Philippines Baguio from 1980 to 1985, Joanna help set up the Cordillera Consultation and Research, which later became the Cordillera Resource Center for Indigenous People’s Rights. She was among the founders of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in 1984, and served first as treasurer, then as secretary-general from 1985 to 1987.
In the past decade, Joanna has been continuously sharing her experiences as a front liner in the struggle for self-determination and national liberation as a member of the CPA Advisory Council both as a pioneer and Cordillera woman elder. Among her most recent leadership roles is her co-chaipersonship of national minority alliance SANDUGO Kilusan ng Moro at Katutubong Mamamayan para sa Sariling Pagpapasya, which was formed in 2016 as response to growing threats against the national minorities’ collective assertion for their right to ancestral land, territories, and self-determination. Joanna in fact played a key role in the establishment of SANDUGO which was a historical breakthrough in building the unity and cooperation of the Moro people and indigenous peoples in their common struggle and aspiration for self determination as national minorities.
Joanna greatly contributed in the theorizing and study of the nationality question/national minority question as applied in the Cordillera region. In turn, this contributed and figured significantly in advancing the struggle for self determination and national democracy in the Cordillera, the national movement of national minorities in the Philippines and even at the international level.
Lately, she along with fellow Cordilleran activists and more than 600 others, were implicated in a Department of Justice petition to proscribe the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations. From what we know of Joanna, she is neither a terrorist nor a criminal. She is a courageous activist for indigenous peoples rights and for national and social liberation.
For reference: Windel Bolinget, chairperson