The 'I' of the Cord-i-llera

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By Robert L. Domoguen

Mountain Light

Monday, December 9, 2013

THIS rugged mountainous land in North Central Luzon has been a beneficiary of a hodgepodge of development visions and applications before and after its integration into the Cordillera Administrative Region in the late 1970s.

The region’s administrative set-up was a preparatory intervention towards a full-pledge attainment of autonomy in the management and governance of its social, political and economic development affairs.

The inhabitants of the Cordillera have not yet attained the promise of autonomy, potentially forfeiting their inherent aspirations for genuine development suitable to the region, its environment, and its inhabitant’s ways after two failed plebiscites over a span of more than twenty years.

Today we continue to hear a mix of confusing and divisive hodgepodge of voices from within and outside of the region on how the Cordillera region “ought to be governed and developed.” The way things appear, it is as if the local residents themselves have already decided on the status quo of governance or that they do not have discerning eyes of their own, or ears that listen to what is best for them.

There are compelling reasons in the 70s for pushing an autonomous set-up for the Cordillera, and the original proponents deserve credit for giving it voice. Ultimately, that voice evolved and found life in the nation’s constitution. But the work is not yet done. While nicely recognized and anchored in the Constitution, that intent must yet evolve and transform itself into its final structure and be born. Unless that happens, we can never appreciate this creature in the womb of our dreams.

Unless abandoned or stillborn, the quest must come to life. The regional development council (RDC) has taken on the cudgels of initiating a third plebiscite try for autonomy in the Cordillera, in our time, after the passing of a generation that failed to see its establishment. The RDC has rationalized and synthesized past and current autonomy initiatives as compelling reasons for a third autonomy pursuit, which is well and good. Representing the DA-RFO-CAR, I have been part of preparatory activities for this thrust and that includes the drafting of the Third Autonomy Organic Act. On-going preparations face rough sailing ahead.

Invited as a voice from the village, an elder from Sagada, Mountain Province spoke the truth about this living aspiration during a powwow on autonomy with media as main participants: “Our people like the quest and attainment of autonomy for the Cordillera. The problem lies on how it has been and will be consulted again with the people.”

Leaders and managers of development initiatives overlook the importance of communication in winning the people’s hearts and minds to a cause.

Just as the good elder pointed out on the quest for autonomy, the communication strategy needed here must be consultative and dialogic.

It must directly engage and win committed support from the very people who must be inspired in order to inspire others to join this quest, push and make its attainment as the preferred reality of existence in this region, in our time.

An engaging dialogic communication for this great cause finds a good illustration in the occurrence of typhoons, called hurricanes in the west.

Experts studying weather appropriately tells us that this phenomenal weather do not follow the North to South Corialis global weather pattern.

Hurricanes and typhoons are an exception to the role. These are autonomous weather occurrences, created by the conjunction of two factors – water and warmth. Warm air masses in the ocean draw up moisture causing depression that in effect creates waves, that also disrupts the layers of temperature and pressure in the ocean space.

These disruptions on “the state of affairs,” create energy on them, ultimately spinning, “like a separate world with its own pole,” a new autonomous weather pattern has thus emerged.

Several occurrences follow the events described above leading to a situation where the hurricane reaches this stage likened to a “nuclear breeder reactor,” by the experts.

You would wonder about the eye of the storm that we hear every time a hurricane occurs. The strength of a storm is on the eye that draws the wind, cloud and everything towards it. When the eye goes overland, it peters out to become part of the general weather pattern. Why? Because the eye’s focus was disrupted. Going overland, the hurricane’s eye lost touch with its source of life, the warmth and water of the ocean.

Indeed, the autonomy thrust must go back to the people and the communication process that must happen, will need to document the challenges and the compelling vision and values that will energizes the “I.” These to me will form the “eye” of the third autonomy try for the Cordillera. These must be strong enough and shared if it must crossover our mountains and the continents of our globe and live long. Similar movements, even modern day corporations recognize the importance of vision and values that sustain their reason for being. Next week, I hope to share what I discovered about the “I” of the Cordillera, following the conduct of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and CHARM2 Project Knowledge Learning Market (KLM) here in Baguio City, last week. It was an effort to discover the "I" of the Cordillera, the vision and values that energizes the quest for community development. I hope it will contribute some action points to the on-going quest for a third autonomy push for the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 10, 2013.


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