BAGUIO CITY – A staunch advocate of autonomy rallied people in the different parts of the Cordillera to be united in using the term Cordilleran in its true meaning and context to help advance the renewed pursuit for autonomy.
Clarence Baguilat, former regional director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) and a member of the speaker’s bureau on autonomy of the Regional Development Council (RDC), pointed out that despite the creation of the Cordillera as a region, people are still hesitant to use the term Cordillerans to describe their place of origin which should not be the case in the first placed.
He cited the case of Muslim Mindanao where the unifying factor among them is the word Muslim, thus, it should also be incumbent upon the people in the region to make use of the term Cordilleran to describe their place of origin.
“It is high time that we should use the term Cordilleran to describe our place of origin instead of being too focused on the tribe where we came from. We should not be ashamed to call ourselves Cordillerans because that is the essence of our clamor for autonomy, the fact that we are all Cordillerans,” Baguilat stressed.
While it is true that it will be an uphill climb to inculcate into the minds of the people the importance of having to speak the same when it comes to regional identity, he underscored that it is important for elders and leaders to start in themselves the difficult task of leading the way for the establishment of a permanent regional identity.
According to him being a Cordilleran is the established regional identity that must be inculcated to the minds of the present and future generations and that the quest for autonomy should serve as the unifying factor for everyone.
Baguilat admitted that something must be done for us to start somewhere, especially in using the term Cordilleran as our description of the people living in the region instead of shying away from doing so and focusing nd emphasizing on tour tribal origin as our distinct individual identities.
The member of the regional speaker’s bureau on autonomy asserted it is incumbent upon elder Cordillerans to inform and educate today’s youth the importance of our quest for autonomy considering that the establishment of n autonomous region will be the gift of our elders and elders to the upcoming generations of Cordillerans who will be the ones to rep the fruits of our struggle to achieve self-rule.
Baguilat is also one of the members of a lobby group that was created by autonomy advocates to ensure that elders from the different parts of the region will be united in clamoring for the passage of an autonomy bill that will be submitted to the people for ratification in plebiscite that will be scheduled for the said purpose.
Autonomy advocates are still optimistic that all the seven Cordillera congressmen will be able to craft and formulate a proposed autonomy bill that will be acceptable to the Cordillerans when submitted to them for ratification within the next several years so that the constitutional provision mandating the establishment of an autonomous region in the Cordillera will be realized.