JOHN HAY AND MACLI-ING:
By Ed Aurelio C. Reyes
Kamalaysayan Writers and Speakers
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URING THE two-day conference on "Communicating History" held in Manila last year, I was glad to see a close and esteemed friend, Kidlat Tahimik, a.k.a. "Eric de Guia" (note where I placed the quote marks). It was a happy reunion for friends who had not seen each other for about a year but who share much in terms of drive and ideas about promoting our people's sense of history.
Kidlat was with us at the Folk Arts Theater on the exact centennial of the Katipunan founding (July 7, 1992) when we held for the very first time a solemn ceremony called "Pagtitipon ng mga Anak ng Bayan." Having been held in various parts of the country and even overseas for the last three years, that ceremony and its very short "Pasilip" version have brought together no less than 3,500 people to get to know the shining lessons of the Kartilya ng Katipunan and to swear to live by and propagate those lessons.
Kidlat, who has led in the formulation of a child-friendly version of the Kartilya, was not at all surprised that as speaker and panelist in such a conference that sought the promotion of positive values my topic would highlight the Kartilya.
And I was not at all surprised that my filmmaker friend would speak more by the audio-visual language of his creation than by circumlocutions of the tongue. What struck me was his topic: a contraposition between John Hay and Macli-ing Dulag. The contraposition, I felt, was a masterstroke.
When the Reyes family (of which I am the sixth living child) was staying in Baguio back in the mid-60s, we lived right across one of the gates to Camp John Hay. In fact we got to move to Baguio because my eldest brother was an Elvis Presley-type singer at "Halfway House" at the heart of that camp's golf course. As the years passed, I got to realize the implication of continued foreign military presence in our country and got to know that John Hay Airbase covered about a third of the city's territory. It was only very much later that I got to know who John Hay was, the Secretary of State who was responsible for the hypocritically-titled but unabashedly colonial U.S. policy called "Benevolent Assimilation."
I was struck by the contraposition with Macli-ing Dulag. Here was a man who had enough strength of culture and character to dare defy a dictatorship to fight off a mammoth dam project that would have somehow given more electricity and glitter to Baguio and other cities but would have flooded out fast the Cordillera indigenous peoples' culture and their physical bodies.
Readers of this Sense of History syndicated column in other places other than Baguio are not expected to be very familiar with Apo Macli-ing and his heroic leadership; but I expect most of my Baguio Midland Courier readers to know him well, even admire him even if grudgingly. But of course, I would not be surprised if more Filipinos would appreciate more the logic of the policy authored by John Hay, and the amenities displayed in the former military base in Baguio that continues to bear his name, the logic of glittering amenities that can easily seduce us into applauding the proposed transformation of that place into a polished enclave of commercialism and environmental destruction. But, the memory of Macli-ing Dulag and his strength of resistance to temptations of money is apparently still apparently very much alive today. At least in Baguio.
And I thank my "silent lightning" friend for sparking all these thoughts, and more, in my mind.
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