KASAMA Vol. 16 No. 4 / October-November-December 2002 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish
TALOY SUR, TUBA, BENGUET - On Sunday, 29 December 2002 at about 2AM an explosive device ripped away the face from the 30 meter high bust of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. No one was hurt in the blast and no one has as yet claimed responsibility.
The monument in Marcos Park - 355 hectares of golf course, tennis court, clubhouse and restaurant - is a hated feature of a Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) controversial project that displaced the Ibaloi traditional owners from their ancestral domain in 1976. Sited about 17kms southwest of Baguio City in the Cordillera region of Luzon, the project converted rich agricultural land, sustaining some 80 Ibaloi families, into a playground for rich tourists.
Bernardo Vergara was the PTA General Manager at the project's inception; today he is the Mayor of Baguio City. When interviewed by local journalists about this most recent attack upon the Marcos bust, he denied the Ibaloi's accusations that they were forced to sell the land to the PTA. Vergara insists they were fairly compensated.
Ibaloi land is inherited through family and culturally the sale of land is taboo as it brings bad luck upon the seller and the whole clan. But, refusal of sale to the Government in 1976 could bring even worse luck. The whole of the country was, after all, under Marcos' Martial Law.
In April 2001, a four-year court battle concluded that six hectares occupied by Marcos Park is to be returned to its rightful Ibaloi owner because it acquired the property by force, but the PTA have appealed against the decision.
The Ibalois, represented by Elder Ina Kinomis, proved to the court that they never sold their land but were forcibly driven out by some 30 armed men in military uniform with the use of four bulldozers. He said the men arrived at their village, Barangay Taloy Sur, aboard helicopters and military vehicles. The villagers were gathered in a local school building where the PTA personnel had brought typewriters and mimeographed Deeds of Sale. Those who could not write their names put thumb marks on the documents. Kinomis told the court that a soldier grabbed his thumb and forced it on the document with no explanation of its contents.
- with reports from the Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Philippine Star.
Some of them said they "signed" because they were illiterate and were not told of the consequences of their actions. Others because they were "educated" and would rather live in the city. Some because their lands were unproductive. Some because … their barangay captain, told them to do so…
On that day, we were gathered in a schoolhouse… "A military man told us to sign the papers because we had no choice. I can never forget what he said: Just as God takes your lives whenever he wants, Marcos gets your lands whenever he wants."
- "The Tale of the Folks of Taloy Sur" by James Balao, Cordillera Papers, Vol.1 No.1, Cordillera Consultation and Research, Baguio City, June 1986.
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