This 2015 was an eventful year in the Philippines. Here are some 10 significant events, in no particular order, that made an impact in the Cordilleras:
- Investment Scams
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have warned the public of investment scams that have been prevailing in the country. Many of our kailyans from the Cordillera have been duped into investing their hard earned money in the premise of having it doubled. Up until now, they have been trying to get in touch with the scammers in the hopes of getting all of the money they have invested.
- 14 Cordillerans died in the PNP-SAF encounter in Maguindanao
The gruesome death of 44 PNP-SAF members shocked the country when it was reported in the media. When it was found out that 14 of the 44 SAF heroes are from the Cordilleras, the entire Cordillera wept and mourned with the families of these heroes. A lot have been furious and angry at the government for what had happened to them, but it also became a call for unity as Cordillerans from all over the world united in giving a total amount of P2.55 million to the families of the 14 as part of the Cordilleran Binnadang tradition.
3. Typhoon Ineng traps miners in landslide in Mankayan, Benguet
Heavy rains brought by typhoon Ineng, with international name Goni, left the Cordilleras with 20 dead and causing 15 major roads impassable due to landslides. In the town of Mankayan, Benguet, 16 small scale miners were reported missing as their shanties were covered and washed away in a landslide. Policemen, military, and civilian volunteers took part in the search and retrieval operation of the 16 missing miners.
The new Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center soft launched in October. The BAPTC was envisioned as a marketing outlet where farmers can directly sell their products at rationalized prices. With the BAPTC, Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan is also hopeful for the possible export of Benguet highland vegetables in neighboring southeast Asian countries like Vietnam.
- La Presa (Sto. Tomas, Tuba, Benguet)
Sto. Tomas, Tuba, Benguet popularly known as sitio La Presa became a tourist spot because of the TV series Forevermore. The show featured some of Baguio’s tourist spots including Sto. Tomas, Tuba, Benguet which tourists flocked from December 2014 to May 2015. Sto. Tomas is now protected under the Writ of Kalikasan. Under this protection, all development work was stopped, settlement inside the reservation was regulated and tourist volume controlled.
- 2015 PMA Topnotcher is Cordilleran
A fellow Cordilleran topped the 2015 graduating class of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). Former Cadet Arwi Chiday Martinez, now a 2nd class lieutenant of the Philippine Army, is a proud Igorot. His father Dancio Martinez is a Kankanaey and his mother Lolita is an Ibaloi. Lt. Martinez is the seventh Cordilleran to be class topnotcher.
- Traditional Tattoo artist in Kalinga
Whang-od or Fang-od was featured in a travel magazine and was celebrated in social media by Cordillerans and even lowlanders for being the only living traditional tattoo artist in the Philippines. People are currently appealing to the government through social media for her to be declared as a national artist for her contributions to the art of traditional tattooing.
- Sagada and ‘That Thing Called Tadhana’
After watching the indie film “That Thing Called Tadhana,” people were captivated by the beauty of Sagada which was one of the places featured in the movie. There was one scene where the two protagonists were watching the sunrise at Kiltepan viewpoint which made Kiltepan a must-visit place for its sunrise. The movie’s theme resonated to much of those that watched it to the point that viewers trekked to Baguio and Sagada to experience these places, and for others, to mend their broken hearts.
- Igorot MMA fighters winning international belts
Being a fighter was ingrained in the DNA of Igorots. More Igorot fighters are being recognized in the field of mixed martial arts like Eduard Folayang, Mark Eddiva, Cris Pitpitungue, Honorio Banario, and others. Pitpitungue, a police officer knocked out his opponent in round one in one of his fights this year. Alvin Tam, son of boxer Rey Tam from Kapangan, Benguet won the respect of French-Canadian audience in a boxing match in Canada in November.
- Kalinga as pilot area for Green Economic Development program by DTI CAR
Kalinga was chosen as the pilot area for the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Green Economic Development Program in the Cordillera. DTI’s Cordillera office said that the program aims to transform current business practices into climate-responsive strategies towards economic growth and environmental sustainability. DTI is looking at the coffee industry as a pilot sector for Kalinga under the project “Green Branding the Kalinga Coffee,” coffee being the province’s One Town One Product (OTOP).*** -Louella Pader