Balweg: Cordillera, and the head ax and spear

A PORTRAYAL of pristine Cordillera always bears the head ax and the spear. And rightly so because movement of population is determined by the pursuit of livelihood and natural resources.

Since Cordillera is highly mountainous and forested, the head ax and the spear were very appropriate tools for food gathering and hunting. They could serve even as arms for defense and conquest as they really were used to.

As communities modernized, however, and field agriculture supplanted the swidden and headhunting diminished if not stopped, bolo instead of the ax came into vogue.

Some households had both. Until now, kaingin or swidden crop production(“uma’ in the vernacular) in sloping mountainsides, at times even precipitous, still persists in Cordillera and the Sierra Madre, particularly among tribals, especially those with still nomadic tendencies or stuations.

The bolo is now more commonly spoken of but the ax still has its advantages in areas where you have to climb trees or negotiate precipices.

Use, form, and the ability and means to make the implements are the determinants in their production.

Spear, of course, is world known for its use—the terminating of a life if need be to maintain life which must go on.

Hunting and battling have been man’s course since pre-historic time. Cordillerans were no exception. They did it in their own art form as fashioned by their environment. And they did it with success.

As proven by history, they conquered the heights, forded roaring torrents, hunted and planted for food, formed communities (“ili”), then finally interacted with one another in commerce and art safely and permanently through the bodong system and governance.

With their natural prowess and unquestioning adherence to the pagta of the bil-areral as well as feterated bodong, they overcame internal disarray and resisted foreign invasion like the incursions of the military forces of King Philip of Spain. (It was presumably for this non-subjugation of them by King Philip of Spain that our to my mind analytic then Ambassador Gen. Carlos P. Romulo said of the Igorots of the Cordillera that they were not Filipinos, i.e., in the sense that they did permit themselves to be subjects of King Philip of Spain. This controversial remark of Romulo in a book that he had written ironically aroused an uproar among schooled Igorots in Baguio and causally rallied them to burn copies of the book.)

Basing on the abbreviated glimpse of traditional economic and social life of peoples in the hinterlands of northern Luzon that is now politically demarcated as Cordillera Administrative/Autonomous Region (CAR), it is perfectly right that the symbolization of the region prominently includes the ax and the spear.

By the way, many say that car expresses a substantially loaded vehicle with some definite direction to follow and traverse while arc expresses awesome but completely tantalyzing beauty and illusory ending.

As for me, acronyms, like CAR or ARC, are good to take notice of but what matters most is the body of provisions that assures your reaching the end or goal you are aiming at.

To go directly to our point, assuming that the majority of us are heart and soul for autonomy now, the realization of that autonomy should be categorically stated provision by provision in its regional constitution that we now call the Organic Act.

Law says that what is not included in an enumeration is deemed excluded, so we cannot postpone substantial basic others that we want for later on after the plebiscite. So we now need an honest to goodness IEC ( Education Campaign) to find out the present pulse of the Cordillera people for autonomy and educate them accordingly.

Past IEC’s are no more dependable, much more with the support of our representatives in the Philippine Congress who might think that their traditional turf In the national government will be jeopardized.

Things should be explained and resolved, especially now that new minds have joined the voting force.

Iyon lang muna, mga po. Merry Christmas; the Prince of Peace bless us all and our Maharlika land.
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