It was not long before the popular resistance which was fast expanding in the villages in the Cordillera interior found its way into the urban areas. The popular resistance in the indigenous communities to Chico and Cellophil inspired the formation of a militant mass movement for the defense of ancestral domain and for self-determination in the Cordillera, within the framework of the wider national democratic open mass movement.
A conjuncture of developments helped in the configuration of the militant national democratic open mass movement in the Cordillera.
There was a wealth of information and data generated through social investigation and research throughout the Chico and Cellophil struggles. These were sifted through, systematized and analyzed with the active participation of Igorot political activists, intellectuals and advocates in theorizing. There was active discussion and debate on the national minority question, and a framework for analysis was developed, undoubtedly with a strong influence from the Left.
The period from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties was a decade of ferment and upheaval throughout the Cordillera region as the indigenous peoples here drew on the lessons from Chico and Cellophil and learned to assert their rights. More and more militant organizations sprouted, as more and more began to assert their rights even under conditions of intense militarization.
On April 24, 1980, military troops of the Marcos dictatorship gunned down Macliing Dulag of the Butbut tribe, in Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga. Macliing was one of the leaders of the opposition to the Chico dams. He was killed in the dead of night in an effort to intimidate the indigenous opposition. The people refused to be cowed. Instead, Macliing’s death was commemorated with a Macliing memorial yearly thereafter to remember the martyrs who had given up their lives in the struggle. It also became an occasion where Cordillera advocates would come to express their solidarity with the Cordillera peoples’ struggles. In 1985, April 24 was commemorated as Cordillera Day for the first time.
The protest actions in various parts of the Cordillera interior soon also found their way to the town centers and Baguio City. One issue which drew widespread protest from conscientized Igorots was the Ministry of Tourism-sponsored Grand Cañao from 1980-83, which displayed Igorots dancing and singing through the streets to attract the tourist dollar. Opposition to the Grand Cañao became a rallying point for Igorot students and professionals who opposed the commercialization of indigenous culture, and who protested this imposed celebration in the face of the problems of militarization, ethnocide and development aggression confronting the indigenous peoples.
Cultural presentations with new revolutionary content were staged, utilizing the traditional sallidummay, uggayam, ullalim. Traditional forms of song and dance infused with new revolutionary content from the areas of resistance in the Cordillera interior were popularized. Other cultural forms depicting the people’s problems and resistance were also creatively developed by progressive cultural workers.
The people learned the value of concerted and unified mass action. The decade of ferment led to increased coordination among the growing number of militant organizations, and more concerted efforts towards defining the substance and features of a program for self-determination of the indigenous peoples in the Cordillera.