“I speak the memories of the hearts of my people. These pictures have been orally transmitted from our ancestors. We keep adding what we want to keep, and soon they will be part of lore.”
Zenaida Brigida Hamada-Pawid (born 1942), has been a peace advocate since 1987. Her presentation of the perspectives of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera was vital in the passage of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA), the most important tool for their self-determination. She helped conceptualize peace zones, defined as communities in conflict areas that resist militarization by any armed group. She represented the indigenous peoples sector in the governments peace negotiations with the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Zenaida Brigida Hamada-Pawid, better known among peace advocates as “Manang Briggs” (elder sister Briggs), believes that peace work is an everyday thing and that anyone who takes away the source of unpeace is a peacemaker. Her father was a lawyer who fought passionately for the rights of indigenous peoples and her mother was a social worker. “A mother who picks up a crying baby is a peacemaker,” Zenaida says. “Peacemakers are like a field of wildflowers; the job cannot be done by one alone,” she says. While the list of her advocacy achievements over the last 18 years may be long, she insists that the credit belongs to many people. She not only refused to divulge her citations and awards, she also asked for them not to be highlighted. “The work of peace making is simply doing what has to be done at that moment,” she says. “Everybody is a peacemaker. As a woman, your first role is as a peacemaker.” She adds, “Peacemaking is never done because the roots of unrest are not really resolved. We just keep picking up the pieces after the war, and the face of war is always changing.” Zenaida’s peace advocacy combines her gentle side as a woman with her firm convictions, making her a passionate voice for ‘the other side’ in the government panels in its peace negotiations with the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). A tireless advocate, on any given day Manang Briggs has meetings set up, either on ancestral claim issues or peace concerns. She is known for her strong convictions, articulated in a clear unwavering voice, and her excellent insights that have helped in the formulation of government policies. Her clarity stems from her being an Ibaloy woman with an ability to articulate the memories in the hearts of her people. “We are all advocates of indigenous peoples’ rights in the family,” she says.
Cordillera Peoples Alliance Cordillera Ancestral Domain Partners for Peace and Development (CADPPD)
Southeastern Asia | Philippines