9th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) Cnsultation
April 28 – May 1, 2017
Biodata of Guest Speaker: Cesar Tomilas Taguba
(Read by Marivonne Pumihic Cuyob, Cordillera Community in Belgium)
Our speaker is an Ibaloi from Adaoay, Kabayan. Benguet. His late mother of the Ibaloi Tomilas clan and late father Mateo Taguba and Ibanag, Isabela, met in Ifugao as teachers and got married. Our speaker was born “tiempo ti gubat” in 1943. He was with his parents in Benguet when they taught in Bineng and Pico, La Trinidad; Adaoay, Kabayan; Camp 4 and Tuba Central, Tuba; and Binga, Itogon.
In 1959, he finished High School at the Baguio Tech as PMT (Preparatory Military Training) Corps Commander, officer of the Baguio Junior Police (BJP) and associate-editor of the High School paper. In 1959, he joined the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) summer workcamp in Samoki, Bontoc, Mountain Province, where he met his partner Yvonne Belen. It was his first exposure to Bontoc land, culture and people.
In 1959, he matriculated at the MSAC (Mountain State Agricultural College) now BSU (Benguet State University) and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education in 1963. He was the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) Corps Commander, Associate Editor of the college paper, Mountain Breeze, and chairperson of the Baguio-Benguet Student Christian Movement (SCM).
He taught at the Tuba Elementary School in Tuba and Bua Elementary School in Itogon, Benguet. Frustrated in his desire to pursue a military career, he decided to pursue a Bachelor of Divinity course at Silliman University, Dumaguete City and he finished the course in 1967.
In 1967-1971, he was assigned to the Church Mining Ministry in Balatoc-Acupan, where he worked as a miner, organized adult education class for the miners and helped in union organizing. He joined the Campus Student Ministry, where he helped organize student protest actions against unjust tuition fee increase, corruption, and so on. He took leadership position at the CBA (Centralized BIBAK Association) and raised issues about state oppression of the Igorots. He helped organize the Highland Activists, who raised Cordillera and national issues. He was the spokesperson of the Northern Luzon Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP).
In 1968, he married Yvonne Belen.
He was ordained to the church ministry in 1970. In 1971, he came to know that he was in the arrest list of the military for violation of the “Anti-subversion law.” Upon declaration of martial law, he went underground, was arrested, heavily tortured and detained until his release in 1976. He resumed his church work as staff of the NCCP (National Council of Churches in the Philippines). He helped organize the Ecumenical Center for Development (ECD), a national network of progressive anti-dictatorship church people.
In 1984, while on a speaking tour in Europe to gather solidarity for the anti-Marcos dictatorship struggle, an arrest order was signed to be served upon his return. Upon advice of church people and friends, he applied for asylum in the Netherlands. His family joined him in 1985.
Since then, he helped develop solidarity relations and promotion of migrants’ rights in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He helped organize conferences on human rights, justice and peace, and did lobby work at the UN in Geneva, European Parliament and Dutch national parliament on these issues. He organized and chaired Migrante Europe Foundation and the Ecumenical Ministry for Filipinos Abroad.
He is a happy and proud “lolo” of four grandchildren, three of them attending the 5th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) conference in Germany, and one attending the 7th ICBE conference in Barcelona and 8th ICBE in Vienna. Their eldest son is named “Chuntug” meaning mountain in Ibaloi, youngest son “Chico” in honor of the Chico River Dam struggle, while daughter is “Lualhati” to affirm Filipino identity and dignity.
At 74 years old, he prays for courage, wisdom and strength to be in solidarity with the oppressed and exploited peoples and nations in their struggle for social emancipation, liberation, dignity and the reign of peace based on justice. Copyright©2017 by CesarTTaguba.