• Baguio City, Cordillera Administrative Region, Philippines

PRESS RELEASE: After 5 years of decentralized celebrations, the Peoples’ Cordillera Day makes a grand centralized comeback.

April 25, 2024

Intimidation and counteractivities of the usual redtagging disinformation by the police, military, and elements of the NTF-ELCAC did not deter the community of Tanglag, Lubuagan, Kalinga in hosting the successful 40th Peoples’ Cordillera Day last April 23-24, 2024. An estimate of 1500 delegates coming from the Cordillera and elsewhere graced the celebration with utmost enthusiasm and solidarity.

Prior to the days of the celebration itself, build-up activities in Hawaii, Metro Manila, Baguio City, and Kalinga were conducted, ranging from an advocacy biking activity for rivers, online and onsite situationers, up to a medical and dental mission for the host community. While the latter activities were on-going, we subsequently received reports of attempts by state security elements to counter the conduct of the celebration through distribution of redtagging flyers and implementation of sudden redtagging forums guised under a medical mission and a youth summit within the community. Further, the route going to the venue exhibited crudely painted sacks containing redtagging statements against CPA. It has also come to the attention of the CPA that local government officials are being questioned and intimidated for allowing the celebration to happen.

Nonetheless, bearing the very apt theme “Courageously advance the struggle for land, life, and honor,” the Peoples’ Cordillera Day pushed through with a resounding success!

On April 23, after an official welcome and rollcall of delegates, Dr. Chandu Claver, a beloved CPA leader in Kalinga, gave a heartfelt keynote address while CPA Secretary General Bestang Dekdeken provided a backgrounder on the celebration. "Our honor as Igorots or Cordillerans will be lost if we don't defend our communities, environment, and territories just like how Macli-ing Dulag, Ama Daniel Ngayaan, and all heroes and martyrs of the Cordillera did. Therefore, the Peoples' Cordillera Day is a continuation of the their legacy, and most importantly, a symbol of the continuing perseverance of the peoples' self-determination, life, and rights", Dekdeken said.

Teddy Casiño of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) provided a brief input on the national situation, followed by updates on the Cordillera Situation provided by CPA Spokesperson Ned Tuguinay. Solidarity messages from present national personalities and CPA pioneers capped the program with inspiring lessons and experiences.

On April 24, delegates were divided into 7 workshop groups covering sectoral issues and current challenges in the defense of ancestral land and self-determination. Results of the workshops were creatively presented through songs, chants, interpretative dancing, and poetry. To synthesize all of these, the delegation approved a Declaration of Unity Against Plunder and State Terrorism Under the US- Marcos Regime.

Cultural productions pumped up the solidarity evenings on both days. Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera’s (DKK) “Sumingising: Adal ti Panagtignay iti Kaigorotan” (Lessons from the Kaigorotan Mass Movement) left a strong and inspiring message of hope, courage, and determination.

The rallying call for the entire celebration was “Sumkad!,” a Kalinga word meaning to rise, resist, and defend. “Sinumkad ti Tanglag, Sinumkad ti Kalinga, Sinumkad ti Kordiliera!” Tuguinay remarked in the 40th Peoples’ Cordillera Day Closing Statement.###

For Reference:
Ned Tuguinay
CPA Spokes