Ancestral domain as cultural heritage: indigenous resistance on a northern Philippine frontier
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines how the Bugkalot draw discourses from both global indigenism and local ideas of wellbeing to articulate their opposition against the Casecnan Dam, a BOT project that was the result of neoliberal policies.
Paper long abstract:
The Philippines started to implement neoliberal policies in the 1980 due to pressures from the IMF and the World Bank. In order to attract foreign capital and to encourage private participation in development projects, the BOT Law was passed in 1990. In 1995, California Energy, the largest independent geothermal power company in the world, secured a BOT project with the Philippine government to build the multi-purpose Casecnan Dam in the ancestral domain of the Bugkalot (Ilongot). The Bugkalot have been involved in long-term disputes with CalEnergy, and they started a new wave of protest in September 2013 to demand royalties and compensations for environmental damages and the loss of biodiversity which they sustain as a result of the project. While using the Indigenous Peoples' Rights Act (IPRA) as a weapon in their fight against crony capitalism and the global neoliberal regime, the Bugkalot also place emphasis on the cultural significance of the Casecnan River and construct a discourse of ancestral domain as cultural heritage. This article will examine how the Bugkalot draw discourses from both global indigenism and local ideas of wellbeing to articulate their concerns, and how their demand of revenue share in Casecnan is influenced by their perception of development and wealth.
Thinking otherwise at the extractive frontier: conflict, negotiation, translation, and a more equitable conversation