6374 442 6437 cwearc@cwearc.org

Advocacy Publications

The following advocacy publications by CWEARC are still available:

Kali: Voice of Cordillera Women (Volume XIII No.1, December 2020). Cordillera Women’s Perseverance in the Struggle for Ancestral Land, Rights and Dignity (A Women’s Anthology of Poems, Songs and Stories)

Kali: Voice of Cordillera Women (Volume XIII No. 2, December 2020). The Ayyew-Ubbo-Vermiculture (AUV) Project: Good Practices and Lessons Learned

To request for your copies, please send us a message at info@cwearc.org. Copies are also available at the Indigenous Peoples Center near Burnham Park. We are happy to contribute copies to libraries in schools and universities.

A Women’s Anthology of Songs, Poems, and Stories

Editor’s Note

It has been fifteen years since the publication of the first volume of KALI, Voice of Cordillera Women. The first anthology echoed the Cordillera women’s recollection of the early struggles and their tributes to the victories of the pioneers of the Cordillera people’s movement, such as the participation of women against the Chico Dam and Cellophil Resources projects, and the ensuing burning issues of the early 2000s. The corruption and tyranny of the regimes that manifested as development aggression and militarization in the region were denounced by women writers, visual artists and musicians and they found their voice in Kali.

Much has transpired in the women’s movement in the Cordillera through those years from which we draw valuable lessons and insights. This trove of experiences and challenges has been translated into individual writers’ reflections and leaps; and collective dedication of communities and women’s organizations to the continuing pursuit of the aspiration of the women’s movement. Because development aggression still rears its ugly head and tyranny has fiercer fangs that preys on women, defense is much bolder now.

Women organizers in the indigenous people’s movement, women who work as staff in development programs, women who are mothers and income earners in communities, students who carry out cultural work in schools, have crafted their literary pieces, songs, stories, visual images as mirrors of their daily lives and involvement in the struggle for a better, humane society. Their aspirations are for a Cordillera and a country that practice and enjoy the fruits of self-determination in aspects of politics, economy and culture. In this period under a regime that spites human rights and reeks of misogyny and disregards the value of life, how is rage expressed by women who are not only the life source but also nurturers of generations? In this period of utmost deprivation and wanton disregard for right to life and security, how is resistance expressed by women who dare not remain on the sidelines but also take crucial tasks in the front lines? Women draw strength and courage from the heroism and selflessness of foremothers and ancestors who were not superwomen, but were able to combat fear, limitations and real enemies. The power to create, to transform, to reflect and act, to leave and break from the shackles of tradition and social limitations is a weapon that women in the Cordillera are learning to protect and utilize. The beauty is in the realization that they are validated by their fellow women in these perilous times, and supported by men who have deep understanding and appreciation of the women’s struggle. It is time once again to share the voice of Cordillera women to wider communities of readers. The poems, songs, personal essays and illustrations in this anthology are testimonies that we shall prevail, we shall not be daunted to express our fears and aspiration until true change has come to our Motherland.

Ti Parabur a Manangguddua: Komiks Basar iti Kapadasan ti Umili ti Kordilyera iti Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)


Daytos a komiks ket naglaon kadagiti istorya ken kapadasan dagiti nainsigudan a babbaie iti rehiyon Cordillera maipanggep iti Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), wenno popular iti termino a 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program), a kangrunaan nga ipagpagna ti Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Nagrugi ti badyet na daytoy iti P4 milyon idi 2007 para iti 6,000 a benepisyaryo.

Daytoy ti kangrunaan a programa nga ipanpannakil ti dua a nagsaruno nga administrasyon (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ken Benigno Aquino III), a mangrisut kanu ti kinakurapay dagiti umili a Pilipino. Ti kangrunaan a pokus ti 4Ps ket para iti edukasyon ken salun-at dagiti pamilya a napili.

Ti 4Ps ket inadaptar ti Pilipinas babaen iti duron ti World Bank (WB) ken Asian Development Bank (ADB) a kangrunaan a naggapuan ti pondo. Immuna a naipadas daytoy a programa idiay Latin American ken Africa sakbay nga inadaptar dagiti gobyerno iti Asia, mairaman ti Pilipinas. Sigun iti panagadal iti kapadasan ti Latin America ken Africa, maysa daytoy a dole-out; programa a nangiyaw-awan kadagiti pudno a pangkasapulan ti umili a nabayag nga inlablaban da kas iti pudno a reporma iti daga ken agrikultura, natalged a pagtrabahoan, ken naan-anay a sweldo.

Daytoy a komiks ket nakabasar kadagiti istorya manipud kadagiti workshops ken focused grouped discussion kadagiti babbai idiay Kalinga, Apayao, Montanyosa, Abra ken Baguio manipud idi 2012. Ti inisyal a report, “The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) in the Cordillera from the Perspective of Indigenous Women” ket naipresentar idi naisayangkat ti Cordillera Development Conference idi Nobyembre 2013. Ti Proceedings ti komperensya ket naiparuar. Napabaknang ti inisyal a report babaen iti nagtultuloy a dokumentasyon kadagiti kapadasan dagiti benepisyaryo ken saan a benepisyaryo iti 4Ps.

Weaving Indigenous Women’s Empowerment as Human Rights Defenders


It’s not completely a new initiative. What makes this journey unique, however, is the utilization of positive aspects of customary institutions and values as avenues to promote indigenous women’s rights. It was a painstaking journey of human rights awareness and capacity building of indigenous women in 26 communities of Sagada and Bontoc, Mountain Province in the Cordillera region and in the municipalities of Alabel and Malapatan in Saranggani Province in Mindanao, from the last quarter of 2010 to 2013. It was an empowering experience for the participants who face human rights issues and violence against women due to conditions of militarization, development aggression, and poor delivery of social services. Development aggression in the form of corporate mining and energy projects is an issue of economic violence among indigenous women participants deprived of their access and control to land and natural resources. That empowering journey pushed them to speak and practice human rights as a collective, broke their silence about their own experience of sexual and domestic violence and mustered their confidence to access facilities and services that reduce their vulnerability to violence.

Their human rights awareness was not theirs alone. The indigenous women participants shared that awareness to their communities who became their support to access certain services and entitlements. The awareness was translated into having the skills to communicate human rights to fellow women within their organizations and communities, and to structures of leadership and decision-making.

There is now a deeper appreciation of having written documentation of their own experiences from the usual practice of oral tradition. The stories of the participants that they themselves have written are proof of how liberating the journey was. Their stories show were changes have occurred– in the mind-sets, attitudes or behavior, and in practice. These changes are difficult to measure. However, these powerful stories make the transformation more concrete.

This report also clarifies the role of customary institutions in protecting women from violence, and how women are respected traditionally. With the decline of power of indigenous socio-political institutions brought about by the dynamism in the wider society that indigenous peoples are very much integrated into, the protection or values that used to be accorded to women has eroded. It is vital to accord value on efforts made by organizations of indigenous women and communities in strengthening and promoting positive aspects of indigenous systems that provide protection for women against violence and danger.

Where there is a growing conflict between human rights and business, a larger gap between human rights holders and duty-bearers is created. Nothing would sustain the empowerment of women but their continued interest and collective actions to be liberated as productive members of their communities and the wider society.

Corporatization of water and wind in Mt. Province

Years before, the winds in Sagada gave off the sound of rustling pine needles, the wings and songs of birds, and the fresh smell of the forest. Hardly did anyone think that soon enough, the wind would bring with itself the metallic sound of the spinning turbines of a wind farm.

Hardly anyone thought that it would bring the sound of heavy machinery drilling and digging, the sound of the earth being savaged in the name of progress, the sound of trees falling, and the stench of chemicals spilling. Hardly anyone, except for PhilCarbon president Ruth Yu-Owen and her supporters. PhilCarbon and the SagadaBesao Windmill Corporation drew up plans to build windmills on a windy ridge in the boundary of Sagada and Besao in Mountain Province. The proposed wind farm would have up to 15 wind turbines along the PilaoLangsayan Ridge. Each turbine would produce 600 kilowatts, totalling 15 megawatts of electricity. Mountain Province consumes only five to six megawatts. One of the selling points is to sell the excess nine to ten megawatts produced by the wind farm to electricity grids in other places in Luzon.

One process that any development project undertakes is an Environment Impact Assessment by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In addition, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) provides that projects like the wind farm should include an assessment of how it will affect the indigenous people and natural resources in those areas. However, projects aiming towards so-called development have hardly ever taken into account the rights, livelihood, and culture of indigenous communities.

The windmill turbines were designed to be 80 feet tall, with rotor blades of 40 meters long. These turbines will be built near sources of water that will be inevitably and negatively affected by construction activities. The rotor blades will destroy the surrounding trees. The target project area also serves as a pastureland therefore will disturb the livestocks. Equally, the project will disrupt the routes of migratory birds. Imagine the mountains.

Imagine the pine trees. Imagine the monstrous metal turbines, starkly white and lifeless against the backdrop of the forest green.

PhilCarbon and its proponents promised that the affected municipalities would divide between themselves a royalty of one centavo for every kilowatt the wind farm produces. A fraction of a centavo per kilowatt, in exchange for the destruction of the land and its resources, and for the disruption of the natural course of living things that reside in the area. Obviously, the generosity of PhilCarbon knows no bounds—except for the bounds of profit.

Meanwhile, in Sabangan, the Chico River was despoiled by the construction of Hedcor’s facilities. Chico River has been the site of development and military aggression for years—it calls to mind the martyrdom of Macli-ing Dulag, who was murdered in his own home for the sake of “progress”. Hedcor is building a “mini” hydro power plant in Barangays Napua and Namatec. Testimonies from affected communities say that efforts of Hedcor to prevent damage to the river have been ineffective. They also speak about the deceptive moves of Hedcor. Instead of a mini hydro power plant that produces only 14 megawatts, Hedcor is actually building a power plant that would produces a total of 55 megawatts—far from the 14 megawatts they first claimed to build.

There are numerous renewable energy plant applications in Mountain Province alone. BIMAKA is planning on building a series of six mini hydro projects along the Balas-iyan river in Besao. All in all, there are 11 hydro-electric projects outlined in Mountain Province. The MainitSadanga geothermal project of the PRCMagma Energy Resources Corp., which is a partnership with Chevron expected to generate 80MW will be affecting a wide span of land in Bontoc and Sadanga of Mountain Province. Leaders of indigenous women’s organizations in Mountain Province say that energy projects are needed for other investments in the province especially mining and tourism.

Imagine a map of Mountain Province littered with markers for mining and renewable energy applications.

With destructive mining and renewable energy applications come militarization, harassment, and various other human rights violations. In Sagada, when the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) assembly held for the indigenous communities affected by PhilCarbon’s windpower project was conducted, the 54th IB under Colonel Martinez also had their operations. In Tocucan, indigenous leaders that opposed the mini hydro power plant project were harassed by members of the CAFGU1, a paramilitary group.

PhilCarbon also disseminated misleading information regarding the schedule and nature of the FPIC assemblies. Personnel of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) who are mandated to uphold the rights of indigenous peoples, were party to PhilCarbon’s deception and manipulation of the FPIC process.

Despite all this, the affected communities especially the women, took action to uphold their rights and to protect the natural environment of their homeland. A 100-meter tall anemometer tower that tests wind speeds was built by PhilCarbon in preparation for the wind farm project in Sagada. On June 5, 2013, the structure that costs Php 1.5 million was felled by anonymous members of the protesting communities.

All over the communities affected by energy projects, the women actively participated in study meetings on issues regarding these projects, and made sure to attend every assembly called by the NCIP in order to voice their opposition to the destructive projects. In Tocucan, the women conducted a petition signing against the hydro project, and attended consultations in order to personally voice out their protests. The necessity to act and prevent the corporate energy projects is a demonstration of how women value life and the source of life which is the land. For them, it is upholding the dignity of women and peoples to respect and uphold life of present and future generations. Young women leaders say that violence against women is addressed in their
empowering participation to these struggles. The leadership they develop earn the respect of their communities. It raises their profile as women.

Now, imagine the struggle of the communities affected by the megadam project along Chico River during the Marcos dictatorship. Imagine the women—mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters—who confronted troops of soldiers during that struggle. Peoples of the Cordillera have shown, time and again, that we will stand together in order to protect our land, life, and resources.

Cordillera women wage battle vs. profit driven energy projects

BAGUIO CITY – In celebration of the International Women’s Day, women from all over the region gathered in this city for a summit to amplify their position against profit-driven energy projects that has destroyed and are threatening their land, food and rights.

The testimonies of women from provinces affected by the said projects on March 8, 2014 speak of an old story that says:

Maibus iti kuwarta, ngem saan iti daga; Ti bunga iti daga awan ti patinggana ay ay; Kakailian kitaen yo, saan tayo a paloko; Umanay a pagsarmingan, nakalkaldaang kapadasan ay ay… Iti biag mi ket simple, pagan-anu mi ti kuryente nu awan ti masilawan, a makan ti lamisaan, ay ay” (Money runs out but not the land; The fruit of the land is endless; Let’s not be fooled; Ill experiences are enough to reflect on… Our life is simple. Electricity is useless if there is no food to be illuminated on the table).

This is a stanza taken from a Salidummay song entitled, Pagsarmingan (Reflection) which was composed by the Salidummay cultural group during the height of the San Roque Dam struggle to share the experience of the Benguet people when Ambuklao Dam was set up. It is a song to tell the people affected by the San Roque Dam to learn from the ill experiences of their sisters and brothers who were displaced and lost livelihoods because of the Ambuklao Dam.

Ambuklao’s bitter past
Ay wen met piman, ta ti kuryente nga us-usaren tayo tatta ket maggapu Ambuklao. Ngem ay ay pay ti kuryente no awan met ti panganan,” (Yes, the
electricity we are using today comes from Ambuklao dam but electricity is useless if we live in hunger) Mary-ann Bugtong of Bokod said in tears during her testimony in the summit. She recalled the stories of their parents when the Ambuklao dam started to be built. The area that is now dammed she said was the rice granary of the people not only of Bokod but also to Itogon, and Atok. Their parents were about to harvest the golden grains of the rice when the company along with their military guards came and drowned their rice paddies.

Bugtong cannot control her emotion when she continued recounting that their brothers and sisters in Bokod were displaced. Some went to other places but came back to Bokod due to the absence of a sustainable livelihood. If only she wished Ambuklao dam was never built, then they are still tilling their rice paddies. But she can only reminisce what their ancestral land looked like before in available photos.

Wen, peace loving kayman ti taga Bokod isunga intulok da ti Ambuklao dam ngem nu ipilit da manen dayta geothermal ken dayta minas, agpatingga dayta nga ugali. Nu kasapulan nga aglabus, apay kuma a saan tapno laeng malapdan,” (Yes, the people of Bokod are peace loving that’s why Ambuklao dam was built. But if they will insist to put up the geothermal power project and even large scale mining, that attitude will end. We will do all forms of protest even getting ourselves naked just to stop their entry) Bugtong stressed.

The lesson from the Chico River
Who could ever forget the life and death struggle of the Kalinga and Bontoc peoples against the setting up of mega dams along the Chico River in the 1970s? This project was successfully stopped when the people forged strong unity and waged war against the government and its instruments. To them, Land is life therefore it must be defended. In both battles, accounts of the communities and even in news stories reflect that women fought side by side with men.

Today, it is the same song that Cordillera women were chanting during the summit. They said, a great battle must be waged by women along with their communities against the many corporate energy projects in the region to defend the land that is giving them life; a land that they have nurtured with their sweat and blood and a land where their main source of livelihood comes from.

Their major rivers and its tributaries the women said are outlined for hydro electric projects from mini-hydro to mega dams despite the existence of eight large dams. US company, Chevron is exploring the region for geothermal energy specifically in Kalinga, Mt. Province, Benguet, Abra and Ifugao. And one wind power facility is being pushed in Sagada, Mt. Province. Allowing these projects theysaid will weaken the women in their task to provide food on the table. Providing food they stressed needs to be attached with their land, their water and their forest. Allowing these corporations to take over will lead to hunger for the communities and profit for the corporations.

These kinds of projects are pushed for the reason that the country is lacking energy. In the report by Ani Bongaoen of APIT TAKO, half of the country’s energy consumption comes from imported fossil fuels. On the other hand, Philippines has a great potential in both fossil and renewable energy. What the country however is doing according to Bongaoen is selling these potentials to foreign corporations instead of developing it with the communities and for the communities. These corporate-initiated projects resulted to various human rights violations ranging from fraudulent free prior and informed consent (FPIC) process to militarization. This was evident with the testimonies of the women from Kalinga and Ifugao where Chevron’s geothermal power project; Quad River and Sta. Clara’s hydro power are located. The corporations according to the delegates have employed divide and rule tactics, bribery, and many others just to manipulate the result of the FPIC. In Kalinga, Chevron conducted several consultations and agreement signing in hotels in Tabuk City with selected “leaders”. Elders and leaders that they have chosen for such gatherings received per diems.

During consultations in the communities or in the hotels, companies according to the delegates are not disclosing enough information in order for the people to make a sound decision. All the information provided are one sided. Delegates affected by geothermal projects share the same story that the companies have promised them the moon and the stars. Words they added that were coming out from the mouths of corporations’ spokes persons were as sweet as sugar.

The women’s answer to these deceiving tactics echoed another phrase from the same Salidummay song that goes: “Ikari da’t init ken bulan, amin a kapintasan; Ngem nu dumanun to ti tiempo, agpatingga ti sao, ay ay!” (They can promise the sun and the moon, all that are beautiful; but time comes that none will be fulfilled). They are firm that they will never be fooled.

Women from different communities fought these projects in their own ways. In Ifugao, they have submitted petitions to concerned agencies. In Kalinga, women barricaded the entry of Chevron in one of the temperature test activities; women of Tulgao, Tinglayan strongly made their point through cultural protest during the consultation. In Benguet, government legislative bodies are bombarded with resolutions and petitions against hydro power projects and geothermal project. In Mt. Province, the wind power project stopped its exploration due to strong protests.

The Summit forged strong solidarity among women and advocates to be able to face the challenges of trying to stop these projects from community level up to the higher avenues of battle. The women formulated a position paper which they will be using in their activities at the regional down to community level. The women then went out of UP Baguio and marched the street to Session Road down to peoples’ park where they bravely displayed and aired their resistance to aforementioned projects. They even called for the ouster of PNoy because they said, he is not only playing deaf on their issues but he is even selling their energy resources to foreign companies. The Summit was made possible through the efforts of Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC) in partnership with Innabuyog Gabriela – the regional alliance of indigenous women’s organizations in the region, Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taeng Kordilyera (APIT TAKO), University of the Philippines-Kasarian and All UP Academic and Employees Union.