An Expedition to the Cordilleras

Manila Bulletin, March 31, 2005 | Go to article overview

An Expedition to the Cordilleras


Byline: RACHEL C. BARAWID

Tomorrow, (April 1) four people united by a common cause and deep passion for the environment, will embark on a 40day journey across Central Cordillera in an attempt to generate awareness and concern on the present deteriorating state of the region.

Dubbed "The Philippine Central Cordillera Traverse," the non-stop expedition also aims to retrace the old trails which have connected the Cordilleras during the ancient times.

The mountain ranges of the Cordilleras are now under great danger due to illegal activities such as mining, logging, and kaingin which also adversely affect its people.

The expedition is being supported by a grant from Washington-based National Geographic Society and will also be chronicled in its magazine of the same name.

The trip will take the group who are descendants of the mountain tribes (ethno-linguistic groups) to Itogon, Benguet as well as to the mountains of Nueva Vizcaya, Mt. Pulag in Kabayan all the way through Ifugao and Mountain province and finally ending at Tirad Pass, formerly the gateway of the Cordillera region. While traversing these places, the group led by environmentalist JP Alipio, will likewise engage in cultural interaction with the communities.

"These trails are significant to our environment, history, culture and peoples. Their recognition and protection is essential for us to manage our natural resources and heritage in order to yield positive outcomes for cultural evolution and sustainable development," said Alipio.

He stressed that the expedition not only strives for the realization and recognition of the identified places as natural and cultural wonders but more importantly, for the declaration of these trails and surrounding areas as natural and cultural heritage sites that extremely need protection and preservation.

"We are merely catalysts and we are hoping that through our efforts, more people especially those living within that environment will become aware of the poor conditions of our mountains, have more concern for their homes and their culture, and in their little way, help in the improvement of this conditions." Alipio explained.

According to historical records cited by Alipio, there has not been any major crossing on foot of the Cordillera Mountains after the Spanish period. The Spaniards were the first outsiders that successfully attempted a trans-Cordilleran journey through the homes of the fierce Igorots. …

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