'SONA Mascot' entertains Bugkalot tribesmen, kin
Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya – Members of the Bugkalot indigenous community here who are manning a barricade to prevent the entry of large-scale mining were shocked to see their cousin Rosario Camma live on television during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Mariano Maddela cannot help but laugh when he saw his cousin wearing the traditional g-string.
"Halatang hindi na siya nakatira dito sa bundok. Nakakatuwa! (It is quite obvious that he no longer lives here in the mountains. It's funny!)," he said.
Maddela hails from the village of Pa-o which shares border with the village of Kakidugen, Camma's birthplace.
Maddela's mother is a cousin of Camma's father.
Camma left the village of Kakidugen when he married a woman from Solano, Nueva Vizcaya and later moved to Nagtipunan, Quirino where he got a concession to harvest rattan poles, a major raw material in the furniture industry.
He was acting as the Bugkalot Tribal Federation Chief before he was elected mayor of Nagtipunan during the last election.
Camma's presence in this year's SONA and having been specially mentioned by the president is a puzzle to many here.
"Grabe! Kontodo costume pa ng Bugkalot!" texted a church worker of the Philippine Episcopal Church, whose members are Igorot migrants now settled inside the Bugkalot ancestral domain.
Igorots are at odds with Camma's group because they are favoring large-scale mining.
Maddela and Camma are locked in a bitter struggle over their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title.
Camma led a group of elders who consented to the mining exploration activities of Royalco Resources Ltd, an Australian company.
Siding with the majority of the people in the community, which include non-Bugkalots, Maddela rallied an inter-tribal group to barricade the entry to the target exploration site in the sub-village of Digyan since July 2, 2007.
The mining firm Royalco was forced to withdraw its exploration recently after one year of futile attempts. A series of violent confrontations caused Royalco's failure to explore the target site.
Maddela is also wondering about the words uttered by the president when he acknowledged Camma.
There are no new irrigation systems built inside the Bugkalot ancestral domain. The Casecnan and Addalam irrigation systems are not serving the Bugkalot domain as this merely serves as watersheds, he said. – Abe Almirol, GMANews.tv
Taken from GMA News -- Click here.