Remembering Macliing Dulag
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—This generation should always remember that they have a great hero in their history.
This was Baguio-based writer Luz “Luchie” Maranan’s message to a group of children and activists who attended the launch of her children’s book, “The Pangat, the Mountains, and the River,” at Mt. Cloud Bookshop here last year.
The book tells the story of respected Kalinga pangat (tribal chieftain) Macliing Dulag and his people, who opposed the construction of the Chico River hyrdroelectric dam, a government project that would have submerged the farms and ancestral lands of the Kalinga and Bontoc peoples in the late 1970s.
Dulag was shot and killed by government soldiers on April 24, 1984, for leading the protests against the project.
Maranan’s book opens with Apong Chumallig, who was at the ator (village center in form of rocks) in front of children, recalling how Dulag started to fight for the rights of his fellow villagers.
“Time came when we, the Kalinga and the Bontoc, had to strengthen our bodong (peace pact between the two tribes in the Cordillera) to defend our villages. One brave, heroic man stood out among us and urged the people of the Cordillera to unite and fight so that all of us can still live in these beautiful mountain villages,” Apong Chumallig said.
He recalled his days with Dulag and their friends discovering Chico River, the center of their struggle.
“With our friends, Macliing and I enjoyed swimming in the Chico, diving from the rocks that stood like giants against the current. We explored the forests where our fathers hunted deer and wild boar,” he said.
Maranan said the heroism of Dulag and other Cordillerans should be a constant reminder to the younger generation of indigenous peoples to value their rights over their ancestral lands.
“It is my wish that the children in the urban center know the stories of the indigenous peoples. They should know how mines, dams and logging concessions could destroy our natural resources. If children know that these resources are for them, the future generation will appreciate [why indigenous peoples are defending their land] because that is an act of patrimony,” she said.
Maranan said she chose to write about Dulag because there was no popular material on the Kalinga leader, except in news articles and biographies.
She said writing about the stories of Cordillera heroes was a way of educating children about the heroes who fought and sacrificed for their future.
The book focuses on the heroism of Dulag, but it also tells the story of his people who inspired him to lead the struggle against the dam project.
In 2011, Maranan did intensive research on the life of Dulag when she attended an elders’ meeting in Tinglayan town, Kalinga province. She interviewed relatives of Dulag for the book.
Published by Bookmark as part of its series on “Modern Heroes for the Filipino Youth,” the book was illustrated by Ariel Santillan.
It was the English translation of Maranan’s award-winning work, “Ang Pangat, ang Lupang Ninuno, at ang Ilog,” which won third prize in the short story for children (Filipino division) in the 62nd Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2012.
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