“Padi Eduardo Solang, we give you our final salute. Padi Solang, go in peace. We will continue,”- Joanna Carino, Member, Advisory Council, Cordillera Peoples Alliance
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) pays tribute to one of its finest leaders since its establishment in 1984. Padi (Father) Eduardo Solang is simply extraordinary in all aspects of life. Despite his smaller built, Padi lived like a giant and prevailed amidst the most difficult times of CPA. His passing reminded us how Padi lived his life to the fullest for his family, country, and God.
People from all walks of life have something to say about Padi. According to Jun Verzola, writer and a friend of Padi, “Describing Padi Eduardo Solang could sound somewhat like the song that describes Maria von Trapp in the famous 1960s musical hit, The Sound of Music: “a flibbertigibbet, a will o’the wisp, a clown… how do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” There are a few other parallels between Padi and Maria: their religious background, and their love of the hills “alive with the sound of music,” for example. But these points are mostly superficial. In more substantial matters, Padi Solang is sui generis and sans rival, full of elan and eclat and panache and all other superlative Latin and French terms I could think of.”
“Padi is always on the go. He hates having to wait for the jeepney to arrive to pick up passengers. He’d rather start walking in the direction of his destination, whether it’s five or 50 kilometers away. Once I asked him, “But Padi, what if the jeepney finally arrived, and you missed it because you were already on the road?” His response: “Oh, I’m sure they will have extra space for an old man when they see me. And so what if I missed it? At least I’ve made a head start, I might even get home earlier, and in any case, another jeepney will surely come along,” added Verzola.
Verzola continued by saying that “Padi is an advocate of indigenous culture, almost to a fault. Those who have ever seen or joined him leading a ballangbang dance, i-Aplay style (aka pattong), should realize that a Padi-led Igorot war dance is a life-changing experience if not a trigger for heart attack—for those who are in no shape for the whole-body aerobics, nay, acrobatics that it entails. When he sees how young folk perform an indigenous dance, often I see him shaking his head quietly. One time he muttered to me, “That is not how it’s done, ay Apo. Isn’t anyone teaching these kids how to properly do it?” I tried to explain to him about the nuances of popularization and raising of standards, which I think should apply to indigenous culture as well.”
Joanna Carino, Member, Advisory Council of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, recollected the major contributions of Padi Solang from the formative years of CPA until to the present day. “Padi Solang was elected as our first secretary-general, with Atty. Billy Claver as the chairperson and Fr. Pat Guyguyon as the vice chair. At the CPA Congress the following year (1985), Padi was elected as one of the two vice chairpersons. And when Atty. Claver had to leave the position as chair, having been appointed as the OIC governor of Kalinga after EDSA 1, Padi assumed as chairperson of CPA. He continued to be actively involved with the CPA both at the regional and provincial levels even after he passed on the chairmanship in succeeding reorganizations,” said Carino.
“In the early years of CPA, as the popular resistance to Chico and Cellophil and the martial law dictatorship spread throughout the region, there were numerous human rights violations committed by the AFP. Fact-finding missions had to be mobilized to look into these incidents. Padi Solang joined many of these fact-finding missions. He put his life on the line having to go through military checkpoints or be on the negotiating panel with the fascist troops,” added Carino.
Carino further added that, “In 1986, in the wake of the confusion caused by the formation of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army and its attacks on the CPA, Padi Solang steadfastly stood in defense of our Alliance at the risk of life and limb. He went to the United Nations and exposed the crimes of the CPLA. We believe that this is one reason why Cory Aquino, who supported the CPLA, failed to win the Nobel Peace Prize.”
“Padi Solang lived simply, even sparingly, and advocated a healthy lifestyle. He was a great believer in the powers of ginger/salabat, which he often carried around with him. He would tell us to eat more vegetables and less meat to remain healthy. He did not drink nor smoke. He scolded me that I allowed myself to eat too much and grow fat. Padi Solang was also both an indigenous elder and an Anglican priest, and he did not let these two personas conflict. He was grounded in his indigenous community values and he was a man of God. He could speak on indigenous knowledge, as much as he could make reference to the Bible. His spirituality comes shining through in his songs,” continued by Carino.
In conclusion, Carino made this poem:
He was steadfast in his commitment,
and tireless in passing on the positive cultural values of indigenous society
He was grounded in the past, but was forward looking
and working for a better future for his children and for all children
He was a man of the cloth and he spread the word of the progressive Jesus
He was innovative, and open to new ideas and constructive suggestions
He actively helped build unity among the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera, and with other oppressed sectors of Philippine society
He was a political activist for indigenous peoples rights, national freedom and democracy
He was our elder, and he inspired and gave strength and courage to the militant mass movement in the Cordillera region.***