September 21, 2011

Quite expecting the road to become a mangled wreck of just gone ala all the SH installments, OPAPP hied us media peeps up to the Cordilleras for a three day stay to cover the anniversary of the Mt Data Peace Accord.

Silent Hill ain’t got nothing on the roads of Mountain Province. All we needed was a staticky radio, some skinny, furless dogs and horrid, black babies and we’d be all set for an ascent to frozen hell.

Harry Mason continues his search for Cheryl in the winding, labyrinthine roads of the Cordilleras

How our driver managed to tackle the zigs and zags in near zero visibility is a miracle of skill for me. For 16 hours, mind!

It was so cold your breath became an addition to the enveloping mist. Then again, me and Joser had a grand time freezing our badoodles off and immersing with the paramilitary groups. Especially on the morning when the heater refused to work. Damn, that bath was awesomely arctic.

As you can see, it's not cold up here at all, man

Oh, and thank you, unbeheld lord, for your awesome northern meds. They’re the bomb.

Excerpts from my article on follow.

Cordillera celebrates 25th anniversary of peace accord


Fourteen hours north from Metro Manila, and the Mountain Province greets us with the sound of gongs in the night.

Welcome to the Cordilleras. Up here, at an elevation anywhere from a thousand to 7,000 feet above sea level, your breath coalesces into a cloud of its own when you exhale. As the country’s only land-locked territory, the Cordillera Administrative Region (or CAR) is vast, culturally diverse and the central mountain range itself seems mostly untouched.

The last isn’t only due to the fact it’s hard to get around in the rugged terrain, what with the frequency of falling rocks or the changing condition of the roads from paved to rough to completely misted in zero visibility. There’s also the ever-present threat of armed conflict in these parts, which is also almost as old as the mountains.

This is why the celebration dubbed Inom Galigad (roughly translated as “community drinking to accept responsibility for a pact”) is a benchmark that will see the region into the 21st century not with rifles, but laurels in hand. We are in Mount Data, 100 kilometers north of Baguio City, where an end to hostilities was forged in the late 1980s.

As a hotbed of communist insurgency during the Marcos years, the CAR provinces became the focus of military campaigns at the time. Finally, in 1986, newly installed President Corazon Aquino paved the way for lasting peace in the mountainous region through an indigenous treaty known as “Sipat.”

The government exchanged “peace tokens” with the largest rebel group in the area called the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) to mark an end to hostilities. The Cordillera people gave the government a spear and shield, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) presented an Armalite, and a Bible and rosary came from President Cory Aquino.

That pact is now popularly known as the Mount Data Peace Accord.

To read the rest of the article, click HERE.


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