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Cordillerans unveil Chico River heroes’ marker

BUGNAY folk, church people and other delegations to the ongoing Cordillera Day 2017 opened a shrine in honor of the three leading martyrs of the struggle against Ferdinand Marcos’ Chico River Mega-Dam project in Tinglayan town in Kalinga yesterday, April 23.

Three steel markers representing images of Ama Macliing Dulag, Pedro Dungoc and Lumbaya Gayudan who led the struggle against the World Bank-funded dam project that threatened to submerge Kalinga and Mountain province communities, ricefields and burial grounds  were unveiled along the Bontoc-Tinglayan Road in Bugnay village.

In his message read during the unveiling program, Rev. Brent Harry Alawas, a bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines (EDNP), said it is fitting that the memorial marker is established in Bugnay village, Macliing’s village, the Chico dam struggle’s first martyr.

On April 24, 1980, soldiers led by Lt. Leodegario Adalem raided Bugnay to look for Macliing and Pedro who were then active leaders in the struggle against the projects.

Macliing was killed that night but Pedro survived.

Pedro later decided to take up arms and join the New People’s Army (NPA) in his continuing pursuit to defend his people and his homeland.

Bishop Alawas said that the first team to respond to the murder of Macliing was from the EDNP in Bontoc.

He said then Bishop Richard Abellon sent his staff Benedict Solang and Victor Ananayo, village leader Eduardo Akiate and Elizabeth Dirige of Bontoc on April 26, 1980 to investigate the incident.

The team threaded through several military checkpoints and gathered information on the killing of Macliing they then made public upon returning to Bontoc.

The initial EDNP fact-finding report was followed up with subsequent missions and protest actions by various groups.

Robert Macliing  expressed gratitude for the honor bestowed to Ama Macliing.

“Ama Macliing was not just my father. He was our father, a father of the Cordillerans.  This marker is ours to be proud of,” he said in a written statement.

“The challenge as Macliing’s children is to strive to follow on his footsteps and continue his struggle for the defense of the homeland,” he added.

Dungoc’s son, Fr. Pedro Dungoc Jr. was among the priests from various denominations who concelebrated a Mass at the unveiling ceremony

“In closing, I would like to borrow the words of Bishop Alawas: Let us be inspired by our martyrs to continue the struggle that they started to protect our ancestral land, environment an resources, rights as indigenous peoples, and to promote just and lasting peacr in the Cordillera,” Pedro Jr. said.

Names of other Cordillera heroes—Kathlyn Iyabang-Atumpa, Guzman Gunday, Julio Dulanag, Pingwot Dawing, Yag-ao Ebulwang, Daniel Ijog, Orchag Olyog, Simeon Talis, Dalunag Dawadaw, Gaspar Yag-ao and Elena Edpis—were also etched at the marker. # (Kimberlie Olmaya Quitasol  / Photo by Audrey Beltran)