September 30, 2023

With much optimism, we join the Filipino nation in closing yet another year. It has been a challenging year but we also have much to be grateful for.
Disasters and natural calamities have wrecked havoc on the lives of many Cordillerans the past years. We are grateful that the magnitude of such has not been as devastating this year.
We are grateful, too, that those who were greatly affected by disasters such as those hit by massive flash floods in Apayao and some parts of Northern Luzon the past month are starting to rebuild their homes and getting back on their feet, as they wish to welcome 2020 with hope.
The year 2019 saw the change in local leadership that hopefully would pave the way for a better political landscape in the highlands, especially in Baguio – the seat of political and economic power in the Cordillera. It is our hope that those in the halls of power will initiate much needed reforms and changes to bring inclusive growth and development that will further uplift the lives of Cordillerans.
While Baguio and the rest of the Cordillera remain prone to disaster and other forms of natural calamities, it is our hope that political leaders will walk the talk on their campaign promises to make our places disaster-resilient communities by pushing their green agenda and rehabilitation programs. Countless lives, properties and huge amounts of money have been lost to disasters in the past, which needs to be mitigated.
This year also saw the passing of great leaders from the private and government sectors, persons who have made a great difference in the lives of people and communities in the highlands. Religious, civic and public leaders have gone to the great beyond leaving behind big shoes to fill by those who want to follow their footsteps in serving the poor, oppressed, and sick.
It remains a challenge for the Duterte government to win its war on drugs in the hinterlands of the Cordillera, especially in areas where marijuana thrives on vast tracks of forest lands. Up to now, the war on drugs in the region has not made a breakthrough except for the traditional series of anti-marijuana eradication. But the root of the problem – poverty and lack of roads leading to these areas where marijuana plants thrive – have not been fully addressed.
But the good thing that happened in 2019 is one brought on by our national athletes, who through their winning performance, lifted the indomitable Filipino spirit in the recent 30th edition of the Southeast Asian Games. Despite the challenges faced by our nation and our athletes themselves, the Filipino nation rose to stardom in the recent international event, to the envy of its neighboring nations.
In an emphatic fashion, our Filipino athletes will be remembered in Philippine sports history as the finest in their generation. Dozens among those athletes who shared the honors for delivering what is best for our nation and for making the recent event a celebration like no other come from the Cordillera.
Time and again, we say that the enormous challenges that have burdened the nation this year must not dampen our spirits in joining the Christian nation in remembering and celebrating the Yuletide season. Let us keep joy in our hearts and in our midst and let this spirit of cheer overflow to the depressed and devastated areas. Let hope be the spirit with which we let the season pass.
As the Chinese Lunar calendar predicts, 2020, which is the Year of the Metal Rat, is considered a year of new beginnings and renewals.