June 24, 2024

People from all walks of life, including political leaders, military, and police officers, paid tribute to Mayor Gabino Pangket Ganggangan of Sadanga, Mountain Province who died on Jan. 29 after suffering from cardiac arrest. He was 60.   
Born on Sept. 18, 1961, Ganggangan, fondly called “Gabi,” first served as Sadanga mayor in 2010, and sought reelection in 2013 but failed against Jose Limmayog, Jr. who went on to serve for two terms.
In 2019, Ganggangan regained the mayoral post and was seeking reelection in the upcoming 2022 polls.
He came to prominence especially during this pandemic for waiving the food packs that were intended for his constituents from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
In his Facebook post on March 30, 2020, he claimed the municipality has sustained the “built-in and homegrown indigenous social structure, values, and practice of taking care of our respective relatives or kins, neighbors, or kailyan in distress during hard times or economic crisis.”
“It is during these kinds of economic hardships such as ‘food shortages’, hunger and famine that the ‘richer or better off’ (kadangyan) among a clan or village are expected to aid their needy relatives by lending their surpluses,” he said.
He said the food packs should be given to the more needy urban poor in areas who can’t sustain themselves during the extended lockdowns.
Various groups and national agencies lauded his selfless action. 
Lawyer Cheryl Daytec-Yangot, a friend of Ganggangan for 30 years, was one of those who honored him by sharing that despite their opposing views in many matters because of his strong convictions, it never got in the way of their friendship. 
“He was the kind who valued friendship and honored it. When I had a stroke, he came to visit me. His defeat in the 2013 elections turned out to be a blessing in disguise because he had a heart bypass that year. We talked about second lives and using them for altruistic ends. ‘That is why we did not die,’ we both agreed,” Yangot said in her Facebook post. 
The conviction of Ganggangan could be seen in his advocacy for the passage of the autonomy bill through the years.
He was one of the witnesses during the signing of the 1986 Mt. Data Peace Accord or sipat, which was signed between the late President Cory Aquino and Cordillera People’s Liberation Army then headed by renegade priest Conrado Balweg on Sept. 13, 1986.
During the sipat commemoration on Sept. 13, 2021 in Mt. Data Hotel, Ganggangan expressed his dismay on the lack of support of the Duterte administration to the Autonomous Region of Cordillera bill.
“The essence and spirit of the Mt. Data sipat is the hope and commitment of the two parties to work it out, and to work it out, it involves a lot of process. What the Constitution requires is that it should be done through legislation and we know the procedures on how the law is made. But along those constitutionally provided measures, there is no support. Can’t the chief executive do anything to push for it?” Ganggangan asked.
The late mayor also became the voice of anti-insurgency in the region through his participation in the programs of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
National Intelligence Coordinating Agency-Cordillera Director Alden Juan Masagca lauded the mayor for pushing for the Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP) of the NTF-Elcac.
He said Ganggangan had campaigned to support the NTF-Elcac and the SBDP in the hope of liberating poor villages from having been tied with the insurgents, which he himself has witnessed as a former commander of the CPLA.
“Without a doubt, Mayor Ganggangan has left a legacy for the Cordillerans to continue – a legacy to fight for self-determination, peace and progress. Let this therefore be a struggle by the Cordillerans for the Cordillerans,” Masagca said.
Masagca added the late mayor spoke before the Cordillerans in various platforms to promote the indigenous culture and traditions in this region as means to cope with the setbacks caused by the pandemic.
He did this even if left-leaning groups maligned him for his stand. Without hesitation, the mayor stood his ground and made the Cordillerans realize their strength to rise above the health crisis as in any other struggles including the plight for regional autonomy without any aid from some pretentious organizations that have done nothing but exploit them for funding generation purposes.
The late mayor was rushed to the Bontoc General Hospital in an unconscious state past 10 p.m. from Guina-ang, Bontoc where he attended a wedding on Jan. 29. He was declared dead at 11 p.m.
Ganggangan’s wife Lourdes earlier passed on. They have three children and three grandchildren. – Ofelia C. Empian