September 12 - After around nine hours of travel from Manila, we reached Mount Data, Mountain Province. This is where, twenty years ago-- September 13, 1986-- then President Corazon Aquino signed a peace accord with the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA), a rebel group fighting for autonomy on behalf of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera region. We were there to join the so-called dolnat, or "warming-up" of the peace pact.
where the war ended
calla lilies bloom
September 13 - the day of the celebration. On a very cool morning, the CPLAs had their breakfast in a tent under the pines. I learned that many of them hadn't met for a long time.
comrades in war
The speakers during the ceremony had a common message: after 20 years, peace in Cordillera-- and the rest of the country as well-- remains fragile. Autonomy and progress are yet to be enjoyed. But despite the failures and hardships, hope keeps on burning.