PRESIDENTIAL Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza was right in urging us, Cordillerans, to “continue making noise” in order to get the attention we desperately need from the national leadership for the creation of a Cordillera Autonomous Region.
“Let your presence be known and I am sure you will not be ignored because it is your right under the Constitution to have your own Autonomous Region of the Cordilleras,” Dureza said during a Cordillera Autonomy Leaders Forum with Senators recently.
Well, for sometime now, we have been making noise. Each time we mark the anniversary of the establishment of the Cordillera as a separate administrative region - so installed to prepare us for autonomy, we bring out the gongs.
Each time, we bring around each province of the Cordillera a gong that sounds “gong-gong-gong”. Yet, aside from saying what it says in the vernacular, the gong does not at all make a noise for Cordillera autonomy. Since it began as a highlighting feature of the annual observance of our creation as an administrative region, and given the funding for it, the gong-beating has yet to ring its purpose of convincing our people to go for autonomy.
The fund for the “Cordillera Gong-gong Run” can well go to hiring three Dangwa buses and filling them up with Cordillerans in their indigenous attire on their way to Congress. With their banners for autonomy, the said Cordillera delegation can play their gongs to get the attention of the President along his way to his annual State-of-the-Nation Address.
Inside Congress, our Cordillera representatives can well greet the President in their G-strings and “tapis” and waving signs for their region’s autonomy. Their costume and billboards would get the attention and focus of the television cameras better than the “ternos” and “barongs” of the other delegations.
With Congress as venue and the annual SONA as backdrop, the pealing of Cordillera gongs would sound clearer, and our message for autonomy heard by those who, we swear, should listen to our clamor for self-rule, This strategy would be a hundred-fold more effective than the remote, lonely sound of “gong-gong” that we annually beat ineffectively around the region.
It would do well, too, to review the terms of the peace-pact signed by the late Fr. Conrado Balweg and then President Corazon Aquino in their peace accord in Mt. Data on September 13, 1986.
It would do us good to have our Cordillera leaders remind President Rodrigo Duterte that this region kept its vow for peace after it was signed by “Ka Ambo”( as Fr. Balweg was also known) and then President Aquino.
The Cordillera, the President should be reminded, kept its word of keeping the peace after that accord. Unlike in Mindanao where pacts were broken.
This fact would and should give the Cordillera an entitlement equal to, if not ahead of Muslim Mindanao which continued to be wracked by war despite having signed several peace pacts with the government.
With this region now salivating for attention equal to that being given to Mindanao, a Cordilleran wished Fr. Balweg did not forge the peace pact at Mt. Data. His Cordillera People’s Liberation Army would still be intact and ready to fight if government does not address the region’s clamor for autonomy.
And now, aside from the repetitive “gong’gong”, what’s this we hear about the advocates organizing folk concerts-cum-speeches on advantages of self-rule to rally the people for autonomy? For us who love country music, it’s a curious, irritating blend to listen to both country music and a lecture on autonomy in the same venue. That’s why audiences are irked when folk musicians intersperse their renditions with speeches. “Kansyon ketdi, saan nga sao,” audiences would admonish the performers.
Money is also now and then spent to hire Manila people who, despite their lack of understanding about Cordillera autonomy, come and teach us how to advocate Cordillera autonomy. Like the purpose of the roving gong, this is also difficult to comprehend. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for comments.)