Living in the rich mountains of Aurora, Marieta Corpuz courageously protects her Alta tribe and defends their ancestral land from development aggressions. Mayet, as she is simply known to her colleagues and friends, is known as a “tribal woman of few words who learned to stand up not only for her rights but for her tribe’s as well.”
Marieta, who is also a mother, proved her leadership with her involvement in the Samahan ng mga Katutubo sa Sierra Madre (SKSM) which is in the core of the broad sectoral network Panlalawigang Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Aurora, Inc (PAMANA). Since the formation of SKSM in 1985, the group has not ceased actions in pursuit of their legitimate issues and concerns.
Marieta actively campaigned against destructive mining and logging for the protection of her ancestral home. She was also active against development aggressions brought by the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone (APECO) law and the Aurora Food Production and Agro-forestry Project (AFPAP) locally known as Aurora Food Basket. These projects were implemented by the Angaras (Sen. Edgardo J. Angara, and former provincial governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo) and it promoted eco-tourism and mining that threatened the lands and livelihoods of the people of Aurora. Her active campaign against mining and logging and opposition to the Angara dynasty made her a heated target of vilification by the military. Marieta and the other SKSM and PAMANA leaders are being harassed in their homes and work places and are subjected to black propaganda on radio. The military also sowed fear to her tribesmen by using their ancestral land as a “firing range.” Because of these threats inflicted to her and her tribe, Marieta was forced to flee her home in Barangay Diteki and settle in Barangay Detailen in Aurora instead.
Even when she was forced to leave her home, Marieta did not abandon the people of Aurora. She continued defending the lands of her beloved province. Through her organization’s intensive actions, they were able to gain the support of the Sangguniang Bayan against mining and logging in Aurora. It favored her tribesmen when the mining permit of Omnimines Development Corporation was cancelled and a total log ban policy was declared in the province.
Marieta did not only focus campaigning locally but she also represented her organization in international gatherings to gain support in saving their lives and lands from destructive logging and mining. She recently joined the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) in the United States where she stood as a witness against human rights violations and denial to ancestral domains and livelihood to the indigenous people in northern Aurora caused by APECO.
For three years, Marieta actively led the campaign against APECO. SKSM was engaged in the ZERO budget campaign for Republic Act 9490 or ASEZA and the junking of RA 10083 that amended the said anti-people economic program. Marieta also represented the Resist Apeco-Defend Aurora Movement, with SKSM in the forefront, during dialogues for its budget hearings on both the Houses and Congress. There is now a ‘Repeal APECO bill’ in Congress and a petition to the Supreme Court to again study the law that created it.
Aside from the campaigns, Marieta was also involved in organizing trainings for her fellow indigenous people with support from different organizations. Livelihood projects for women were started with support from the Samahan ng Kababaihang Magbubukid sa Aurora.
Until now, Marieta continues to defend the right to life and land and fight against the destruction of the environment. Marieta’s relentless courage served as an inspiration not only to her tribe but also to the other IP groups in Aurora. Her activism did not only stop the exploitation on her ancestral land, but her leadership also united the tribes in the Aurora.