The region, officially created on July 15, 1987, covers most of the Cordillera Central mountains of Luzon, and is home to numerous ethnic people collectively. Nueva Vizcaya province has a majority-Igorot population as well, however, was put by the American colonial government in the early 20th century in Cagayan Valley region instead.
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On August 18, 1908 during the American regime, Mountain Province was established by the Philippine Commission with the enactment of Act No. 1876. Ifugao, which was part of Nueva Vizcaya province, and the former Spanish comandancias of Amburayan, Apayao, Benguet, Bontoc, Kalinga and Lepanto, were annexed to the newly created province as sub-provinces. Amburayan was later abolished in 1920 and its corresponding territories were transferred to the provinces of Ilocos Sur and La Union. Lepanto was also reduced in size and its towns were integrated into the sub-provinces of Bontoc and Benguet, and to the province of Ilocos Sur.
On February 14, 1995, Kalinga-Apayao, one of the five provinces of the region was split into two separate and independent provinces of Apayao and Kalinga with the enactment of Republic Act No. 7878.
Several attempts at legalizing autonomy in the Cordillera region have failed in two separate plebiscites. An affirmative vote for the law on regional autonomy is a precondition by the 1987 Philippine Constitution to give the region autonomy in self-governance much like the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao in southern Philippines. The first law Republic Act No. 6766, took effect on October 23, 1989 but failed to muster a majority vote in the plebiscite on January 30, 1990. The second law, Republic Act No. 8438 passed by Congress of the Philippines on December 22, 1997, also failed to pass the approval of the Cordillera peoples in a region-wide referendum on March 7, 1998.
At present, a third organic act of the Cordillera is in the offing supported by the Cordillera Regional Development Council.
In September 2000, the municipal council of Itogon, Benguet, withdrew support for the San Roque Dam project. The project had met a lot of resistance, because of the reported failure of its proponents to update its Environmental Certificate of Compliance (ECC) and to submit a watershed management plan required for a project of that magnitude. The San Roque Dam was to become one of the biggest dams in the world and would threaten the living environment of the Igorot.
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), an indigenous rights organization in the region, in co-operation with other organizations, had highly resisted this project and thus booked a little victory. However, in May 2001, president Arroyo declared that the San Roque Dam project would continue anyway because it had already started and therefore was difficult to stop. At the same time she promised to not sacrifice the environment, to resettle the people who will lose their houses, to compensate other people, and to initiate no other large-scale irrigation projects in the future.
In December 2000, the Supreme Court of the Philippines dismissed a petition that questioned the constitutional legality of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), and act which came into existence in 1997 giving the peoples of the Cordillera decisive influence over the establishment of foreign mining companies. In this act, ownership over the lands was regarded as communal, rather than individual and thus coincided more with the view on ownership of the Igorot. The IPRA was totally different in tone than the 1995 Mining Code.
Without consultation from the people of the Cordilleras, the Mining Code gave companies the freedom to devastate tribal lands, allowed 100% foreign ownership, and gave companies the right to displace and resettle people within their concessionary areas. Some influential people filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court against the IPRA, because it contradicted with the Mining Code and would therefore be unlawful. The petition was dismissed in a 7-7 vote by the Supreme Court.
A bill creating an autonomous Cordillera was filed in Congress in 2014, but it was not backed by strategic politicians in the region due to lack of support from the national government. However, in 2017, all provincial congressmen within the CAR jointly filed a new Bill creating an autonomous Cordillera, the first time in three decades where all provincial district representatives called in unison for autonomy. The move was made due to the election win of President Duterte, who publicly supported the creation of an autonomous Cordillera. However, questions lingered on the issue of Nueva Viscaya's exclusion from the proposed region, despite being culturally and geographically part of the Cordilleras, leaving Nueva Viscaya Igorots left out from the proposal.
Cordillera Administrative Region is politically subdivided into 6 provinces. It has 2 cities; the highly urbanized city of Baguio, and the component city of Tabuk. There are 1,176 barangays in the region. Geographically, the western half of Nueva Viscaya is part of the main Cordilleras, while its eastern half is part of the Caraballos, the meeting point of the Cordilleras and the Sierra Madre. There have been moves to reunify Nueva Vizcaya with the Cordilleras, however, no such legislation has yet been introduced in Congress.
The Tingguians are composed of sub-groups known as the Itneg tribes which includes Adasen, Balatok, Banaw, Belwang, Binungan, Gubang, Inlaud, Mabaka, Maeng, Masadiit, and Muyadan or Ammutan.: Their places in Abra are as follows:
Isnag tribe — also known as Isneg comprising the sub-groups known as the Ymandaya and Imallod (Isnag refers to the people, while Isneg refers to the dialect). Isnags are found not only in Apayao but also in the eastern section of Ilocos Norte and northwestern portion of Cagayan. Their places of abode in Apayao are as follows:
The Cordillera region is the most diversified ethno-linguistic region in the Philippines with its major languages having sub-dialect variations. The topographic formation of the Cordillera mountain range, which has greatly influenced the upstream migration of peoples in the Cordillera into the hinterland, corresponds the various dialects pattern formation. The disparity in linguistic ethnicity however, did not form variation in cultural development as almost every Cordillera people shares similar cultural identity among different tribes.
Roman Catholic is the single largest denomination in this region. However unlike most other provinces and regions of the Philippines, they only form a slight majority in the region forming 60%-70% of the population while Protestants specifically Anglicans and Evangelicals have a very strong presence that forms 20%-30% of the population.. Other religions such as traitional Animism have a significant presence in the region and it's mainly practiced by tribal people.
Economy of the region is diverse; mining, agriculture, export processing zone, tourism are among economic activities in the different provinces of the region.
The region is abundant with mineral reserves. These include metallic ores such as gold, copper, silver, zinc, and non-metallic minerals like sand, gravel and sulfur. Mineral reserves are found in all the provinces. However, mining is concentrated in Benguet.
Its timber resources has dwindled since the introduction of slash-and-burn method of farming in all parts of the Cordillera mountain range.
Baguio and La Trinidad are considered as the industrial centers in the region. Baguio City hosts Baguio Export Processing Zone where operations of big companies like Texas Instruments, and MOOG are located. The city also hosts offshore and outsourcing companies operating call centers.
The primary growth centers of the region are Metro Baguio and the Eastern Cordillera Growth Corridor.
^National Historical Institute (Philippines) [contributor] (1978). Kasaysayan, Volume 3, Issues 1-4(Digitized by Google on 26 Sep 2009). National Historical Institute. p. 16. Retrieved 2 January 2015. (Original file from the University of Michigan)
^Cordillera People's Alliance, Public Information Commission (1 January 2001). "Dams In the Cordillera"(PDF). International Rivers. Archived from the original(PDF) on 4 January 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.