As my historical post “What Killed Dr. William Jones” was a fairly popular entry, some of you might be wondering what has become of the Ilongot people.
Well, according to my friend, journalist Abe Almirol (with whom I worked with on a Australian mining story this January) they changed their name to ‘Bugkalot’ after American missionaries began preaching to them and they abandoned their practice of headhunting.
During yesterday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Bugkalot made a surprising appearance—of sorts. Mayor Rosario Camma, a Bugkalot that long ago left the mountain villages, attended the event wearing traditional attire.
Was this cultural pride?
I think that would have been my impression if I had seen this without knowing other facts. Unfortunately it seems that whatever pride Mr. Camma may have, it’s quite different from the sort of pride that would defend the land, livelihood, and general well-being of his people.
While at the exact same time President Arroyo was giving her SONA, the Bugkalot people that still lived on their ancestral land were manning a physical barricade in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya in order to prevent the entry of large scale mining interests into their territory.
President Arroyo acknowledged Camma in her speech, claiming he "helped his 15,000-member tribe develop irrigation, plant vegetables and corn and achieve food sufficiency."
I think what she meant to say was that Camma led a group of elders to consent to the entry of mining exploration activities by Australian company, Royalco Resources Ltd. I'm not exactly sure how the entry of an open pit mine that basically rips away all earth that would support farming activities would help "achieve food sufficiency." And according to Abe's GMANews.tv article, 'there are no new irrigation systems built inside the Bugkalot ancestral domain.'
Camma's cousin Mariano Maddela, is part of the group opposed to the mining plans.
“Halatang hindi na siya nakatira dito sa bundok. Nakakatuwa! (It is quite obvious that he no longer lives here in the mountains. It's funny!)," Maddela said when he saw the photos.
I’m personally glad to know that the tribe that fought off American arrogance during the Philippine-American war are still fighting—even as I am saddened that some of their members have forgotten this proud legacy.
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Abe's article: 'SONA Mascot' Entertains Bugkalot Tribesmen
Abe's Blog: http://bernabealmirol.blogspot.com/
More on the Bugkalot fight against Royalco Resources Ltd: http://gascon.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/
For more info on Philippine mining see an earlier post: Gold, Our Conflict Diamonds.
For a transcript of Arroyo's 2008 SONA: http://www.gmanews.tv/story/109854/STATE-OF-THE-NATION-ADDRESS-(Text)