New comics on Chico River struggle launched

October 24 — On the last week of Peasant and Indigenous People’s/National Minorities Month, Gantala Press, Nina Martinez and Innabuyog-Kalinga launched Dawwang: Kababaihang Tagapagtanggol ng Kordilyera. Developed under the Movements and Moments: Feminist Generations project of Goethe Institut, Dawwang is a comic detailing the struggle of the Indigenous peoples (IPs) of Kalinga against the building of the destructive Chico River Dam in the 1970s. If unchallenged, the Chico River Dam, a project of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the World Bank, would have plunged the communities of Kalinga IPs underwater, erasing their rich history, traditions, ways of life, and cultures forever. It was only through the unyielding courage of the Kalinga, including the brave women who built barricades, dismantled camps, faced the National Power Corporation and the Philippine Constabulary head on, joined delegations and signed petitions, that the Chico River Dam project was discontinued. 

The continuing struggle of IPs was recognized at the online launch of Dawwang, where it was pointed out that red-tagging and illegal arrests on false charges of IP women leaders are carried out with impunity by the current administration through its state forces.

The launch featured cultural performances by Kim Falyao from Katribu with Kara Malazarte from Panday Sining. Dap-ayan iti Kultura ti Kordilyera or DKK also shared recordings of their performances of “Panaglagip” and “Danum,” two songs which capture the story of the Chico Dam struggle and are both featured in the comics. 

From Dawwang’s conceptualization and research, writing, editing, and illustration, the project’s collective nature shone throughout the process of creation. The comics was written and translated by members of Gantala Press in close consultation with Innabuyog-Kalinga, an alliance of IP women’s organizations in the province. The artist Nina Martinez transformed the script into comics form.

In her message, Leticia “Nanay Tining” Bula-at, the narrator and protagonist of the comics, expressed gratitude that the story of her people’s struggle was now coming to light. She expressed hope that Dawwang would show the youth and the next generations their bravery and fearlessness in the defense of their lands and rivers. More than a project of memory and documentation, Dawwang stands as a reminder, especially today, that the Indigenous People’s struggle and fight for their rights to land, life, and self-determination is just. 

Dawwang is available through Shopee at Half of the proceeds will support the projects and campaigns of Innabuyog-Kalinga. Dawwang will be published internationally in English and German in 2022 along with other comics narratives of IP women leaders from Asia and Latin America.


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