MORE than 3,000 delegates from various local and international organizations are expected to attend the two-day Cordillera Day on April 23 and 24 in Guinaang, Pasil, Kalinga.

Cordillera People's Alliance secretary general Abigail Anongos said preparations have been going well in the Kalinga sitio as major resolutions and activities aimed at countering worsening plunder of Cordillera lands and resources and violation of individual and collective human rights.

"We are expecting at least 3,000 delegates in the centralized celebration in Kalinga from the different Cordillera provinces, other Philippine regions, including at least 80 international delegates from Asia, North America, Latin America and Europe. There will also be Cordillera Day celebrations in Toronto, Canada headed by Binnadang-Canada, and in Hong Kong, headed by the Cordillera Alliance," Anongos said.

The Indigenous Farmers Association of Guinaang, Pasil, Inc. (IFAGPI) will host the centralized celebration in Kalinga, highlights of which include simultaneous workshops that include Global Solidarity Workshop on Self-Determination; Cultural Exchange; Mining; Energy; Genuine Regional Autonomy; Human Rights and Peace; Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC); Abolish Pork Barrel/People’s Initiative; Unity Pact of Kalinga Elders versus Chevron and Makilala-Freeport McMoran.

IFAGPI president Benedicto Balawag said the community anticipates the arrival of the delegates welcoming the expected support from various organizations in their struggle against the threats of mining and geothermal power projects in their province.

On the second day of the festivities, April 25, participants will be taken down the memory-lane as "Gangsa: 30 Years of Cordillera Day" is presented.

This cultural presentation by the Dap-ayan ti Kultura iti Kordilyera will showcase the resilience of the Cordillera mass movement in asserting the indigenous peoples’ self-determination through the years. Various inputs, speeches, tribute to Cordillera martyrs and cultural presentations will also be included.

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact convenor Beverly Longid said the activity will be both a celebration and commemoration of Indigenous Peoples leaders in the country and abroad.

The activity, according to Longid will be timely amid continued pressure aimed at indigenous peoples and their communities due to multinational corporations aiming to exploit the remaining resources of the country.

Aside from the regional celebrations, there will also be provincial celebrations in Bangued, Abra (April 23-24) and Lagawe, Ifugao (April 21).

Right before Cordillera Day on Thursday, CPA will also co-organize two international conferences with the Philippine Task Force on Indigenous Peoples and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact.

“Cordillera Day which is separate from those initiated by the government stemmed out from the courage of the Cordillera heroes and martyrs who fought to assert the Cordillera people’s self-determination against imperialist plunder,” Anongos added.

The group in a press statement said they are continuing the struggle of Ama Macli-ing Dulag,who in April 24, 1980, was killed by the State’s armed forces in Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga. According to the group, he and other pangats (elders) were targeted for positioning against the construction of the Chico River Basin Hydroelectric Dam in their community during the Marcos regime. From 1981 to 1984, Macliing’s death was commemorated as the Macliing Memorials. The commemoration started as Cordillera Day in 1985 to symbolize the widening unity and solidarity among the different indigenous peoples of the Cordillera.

The first celebration of Cordillera Day was held in Sadanga, Mountain Province. It was also in June 1984 that the Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA) was founded and took the lead in the celebration of Cordillera Day.