Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Images of Bontoc

View of Bontoc from Caluttit side

Bus washing in the Chico river

Smokey Mountain?

The Philippine Flag in Capitol

Coffee and Hotcake! (kapi and sagkik man...)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lowalon si Makedse

"Ya ket ay enkhabfo cha Charchar ken Chadsaag ya mabfolafog nan kaag as kapagpag. Entaod pay si Charchar ya ket map-as nan mokhong as kacheppas; nakhafot nan tonged as Lakhipan. Naoma pay chadlos Kamfonyan ya ke na't pasafaten nan kichor ya keleb sa cha pay chadlo ompa. Ay, iyala tako't ta adi omali's Chadsaag ya mapet-ang nan tapeyan sa pay ya mid kasin tako iyala. Nay kowam sa Charchar..... Kulululuschuy. Perpla-pler-pla-per... "

Then Charchar and Chadsaag wrestled and the monkeys in the forest were perturbed. When Charchar jumped, the rocks on the cliff eroded while the tiger grasses in Lakhipan were uprooted. Kamfonyan got fed up so he caused the collision between the thunder and the lightning; it was then that they were at peace. Let us therefore drink wine so that Chadsaag will not come and the wine jar might break; otherwise we may not have other wine to drink. Here, this is yours, Charchar...

This is the genius of my friend and batchmate, Earl Okay, who suddenly composed this native prayer when we chatted and he was about to sign off. Let me give a disclaimer though and say that this is not a real lowalon si makedse. You can hear the real ones on occasions such as blessing the newly-weds, a new house, or those instances that require blessings for prosperity or good health. Many thanks to Earl for revising my English translation (we also changed one name mentioned because there is such a person), and also to Pagano and Igorot Blogger, who attempted to translate some portions.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


The famous food product of Bontoc

Friday, August 17, 2007

Nan Inmasaw-an Lomawig id Fontok (The Marriage of Lomawig in Bontoc)

This is an excerpt from the legend of Lomawig, a god who came down from heaven and chose to live with the Bontoc people. Because of this, he is considered the god of the Bontoc people. Ifontok old men claim that Bontoc customs and rituals originate from him. This version of the Lomawig legend was written by Madkil Dagas and Eduardo Yango, and translated into English by Mr. Luciano M. Kanongkong and Jennifer S. Kanongkong (with a little revision).

Lomawig storyTranslation
Id sangasangad-om, laychen Lomawig ay omasawa isnan fakinlolota. Tay siya chi, khinomwab siya id chaya ya nenfabfaat isnan teketeken ay il-ili. Isnan nenfabfaatana, inomchan siya isnan filig ay ngadnencha’s Kaman-eleng. Oschongana’t nan sin-akhi ay fabfafai ay cha mamalatong.
Ala na’t ya panad id Chomney ya itokchona. Ipadsekna nan sokodna, enpalikot akhes nan asona ya intoltoloyna ay nangooschong isnan sin-akhi ay cha mamalatong.
Long, long time ago, Lomawig liked to marry a human being. Because of that, he came down from heaven and traveled to different places. As he traveled, he came upon a mountain called Kaman-eleng. He looked down to observe two sisters who were gathering black beans.
He hurriedly went down to (a place called) Chomney and sat down. He jammed his spear into the ground, his dog also sat down and he continued looking down to observe the two sisters who were gathering black beans.
Sana’t kanan isnan akhew en, “Fibfikasem kay ay akhew, ta ilaek mo sino ken chaicha nan magkhew ay makatpe isnan akhew, et siya nan titiwkek, kano is khagkhayamek.”
Fibfikasen pay tet-ewa nan akhew nan atong, ket ay kad-in ikhaeb nan yon-a nan enna tochong, sa et kad-in en menyafok is kaposong. Okhay nan annochi ay enngachan is Fokhan nan mangikhekheet ay mamalatong. “Aa! Si tod-i pet nan khagkhayamek tay ikhekheetna chadlo,” kanana.
Then he said to the sun, “Sun, intensify, so I can see which of them will be able to stand the heat of the sun better, and she will be the one I will choose, the one whom I will court.”
The sun intensified its heat, and the older sister kept on fixing her head gear, and repeatedly went to immerse herself in the pool. The younger sister whose name was Fokhan was left on her own industriously gathering black beans. “Ah! She is the one I shall court,” he said.
Kakwasan nan nangooschongana isnan sin-akhi ay cha mamalatong, khinomchang ay en mangila ken chaicha, sana’t kanan en, “Ay ke mid sengetyo ta kanen tako?” Kanancha’y manongfat, “Wad-ay nan sengetmi. Nay met achi maid apey is ichawis tako isnan patangmi.”
Tay siya chi, inmapsot si Lomawig is lokham, sana’t khochowen, sana’t sop-okan ya ket finmichang nan apey. Chinawis cha nan patang ya nangan cha, ket ay nataa nan sin-akhi isnan inilacha tay ya ke sisya kayet nan makan ya nan patang, kag cha eg-ay kinan.
After he finished looking down to observe the two sisters who were gathering black beans, he crossed the river to see them and then he said, “Don’t you have a lunch pack that we can eat?” They answered, “Yes, we have a lunch pack. But we have no fire with which to roast our viand.”
Because of that, Lomawig pulled some weeds, then he rolled them in his hands, then he blew on them and the fire blazed. They roasted the viand and ate, then the two sisters were amazed at what they saw because the same amount of rice and viand still remained, it was as if they have not eaten.
Kanan et nan esang en, “Sino man nan katakhon tona? Ke tako ak-akalem ay mangan isnan makan ya patang magtek sisya kayet ay kag maid naksayan isnan sengetmi.”
Issan nakwasan cha’y nangan, finachangan Lomawig chaicha ay mamalatong. Nen-iyapolotna nan kanawan ya kanikhid ay limana isnan falatong sana’t cha ipagpag isnan tayaancha ay sin-akhi ya ket nenkapno nan chey ay tayaancha.
Then the other one said, “What kind of person is this? We had eaten well of the rice and viand but still our lunchpack looks like it has not been lessened.”
After they ate, Lomawig helped them gather black beans. He coiled his right and left hand in the beanstalks and then he shook them off in the sisters’ container and their container became full.
Sacha’t mafobweg ay somaa. Sinakpipina nan nachapig ay fato et siya nan egnana. Inomchan cha pay isnan saefan, kanana’s san sin-akhi en, “Omilleng ak isna, sa kayo magtek omyali is chanom ta inomek.”
Inid-an pay san sin-akhi nan awitcha, kanan et amacha, “Ke kayo lang sang-oyan ay somaa idwani?”
“Wad-ay man nan lalaki ay kenkenekhan ay finmachang ken chakami ay mamalatong. Fowegmi ay sinmaa et sana’s kasaefan ay omilleng. Kanana’n omyey kami kano is chanom ta ominom,” insongfatcha.
Then they all went home together. Lomawig carried a flat rock under his arm and that was what he held. When they reached the resting place, he said to the sisters, “I will rest here, but kindly bring me water so that I can drink.”
When the two sisters brought home their loads, their father asked, “What made you come home early today?”
“A very quiet man helped us gather black beans. He accompanied us home and is at the resting place resting. He asked us to bring him water to drink,” they replied.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Salmo 39: 1-14

Nan Pinang-ammon Apo Chios isnan Kasasaad nan Takho

1 Sinokisokmo sak-en, Chios Apo,
ya ammom am-in nan semekko.
2 Ammom nan am-in ay ikkak
olay mo tomokcho ak paymo tomakcheg ak.
Olay mo adchawi ka ken sak-en
et aammom nan ek sesemken.
3 Imoschengam kayet nan omay-ayak;
siya akhes mo mamaseyep ak.
Tet-ewa! Ammom am-in nan ik-ikkak.
4 Olay eg-ayko tinakang nan topekko, Chios Apo,
kechangna ay aammom nan wad-ay is kasemekko.
5 Wawawawad-ay ka ay tomatamak ya somasalak, Apo.
Nan kamabfalin nan limam et wad-ay ay tomatakcho.
6 Chadlos katataa nan mangammowan isnan ek katatakho;
chachama'y ad-achaem chi ya ad-i maawatan nan semekko.
7 Ento pan nan omayak ta omadchawi ak isnan Leng-agmo?
Siya, ento nget nan lomayawak isnan sakhangmo?
8 Mo lomamag ak id chaya, wad-ay ka ischi!
Mo khomwab ak is kakawad si natey,
Sikhod ay wad-ay ka kayet sidi!
9 Olay mo tomayaw ak ay omey is kafomar-an si akhew
paymo entee is kapengpeng nan fayfay is apet kalonokhan si akhew,
10 wad-ay ka kayet ay omipangpango;
nan limam nan pomapachang, Apo.
11 Mo kanak ay entafon ak isnan follinget
olay mo filinek nan paway ta pomanget,
12 khechangna'y olay nan fomollingetana
et maid pangetna ken sik-a.
Kag mag-akhew isnan em mata nan chadlos ay kapangetana
tay nan follinget ya pat-a et maid maiteknana ken sik-a.
13 Tay sik-a nan nangaeb isnan kadchinaemko
ay natkenatken ay waschin chodchono.
Siya, chinaitmo am-in isnan ek awak
isnan sisya'y wad-ay ak is kapoton inak.
14 Chad-ayawek sik-a tay kakaegyat ya omipataa chadlo
nan inangnem ay nangaeb ken sak-en, Apo.
Siya, katataa nan am-in ay khinaebmo
ya figfikhek chi isnan semekko.

(From the Bontoc Ikholot 'Salmo' (Psalms), courtesy of Bontoc Scripture Society)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Nan Layad Nan Likhatan

Nan Layad nan Likhatan is an old and very popular song in Bontoc, speaking of a love that has gone awry yet still hinting at a chance for reconciliation. My brother asked me to listen to a contemporary rendition by a band, composed mostly of Ifontoks, named PE'tune and sent the file to me. I have heard this band play and I liked the voice quality of their lead vocals, but they have since disbanded (my brother says their lead guitarist went to the US). However, they were able to record an album of the same name as their band, where Nan Layad nan Likhatan is one of the tracks.

Although it is a contemporary rendition, they included gongs as part of their musical instruments, much like Joey Ayala's Ay, Ay, Salidummay. Listen, and be the judge whether it is a better rendition (compared to Lourdes Fangki perhaps?) or not hehehe.. However, since I cannot post an audio in this blog, I asked wgacusana to use the song with videos of the Lang-ay Festival 2007. I am very thankful for his help.

When the song asks, 'Ento pay kasin chachi? Nar-os cha't am-in' (Where did they all go? All of them have faded away), this can also be said of our songs and dances, showcased in this video only because of the Lang-ay Festival.

Nan Layad Nan Likhatan
Nan layad ensikhafan
Tet-ewa'y sikhab
Layad ay nenlikhatan
Nar-os cha am-in.

Seg-ang yangkhay nan wad-ay
Sik-a et achi mampay
Ya ngag kasin ta angnen
Nar-os cha't am-in.

San enta nenfowekhan
Ad-im ngen semken
San enta nenpachangan
Nar-os cha am-in


Layad ta'y chachama
Ento pay kasin chachi
Nar-os cha't am-in.

Tak-en mo mimowasan
Someg-ang ka man
Ta kasin ta lomanen
San layad ta'y chwa.

San layad ta'y chachama
Wedwecha's fangonen ta
Ta't ampay en-among ta
Omafong ta'y chwa.


Free Translation:
(Qualifier: This is not a bullet-proof translation. If you think that the English rendering is not good, you are welcome to suggest and I can change the words.)

A love beset with difficulties
It is truly hard
A love that has been given much effort
All of them have faded away.

Pity is all that is left
It is really up to you
What else shall we do then?
All of them have faded away.

The times when we were together
Don't you think (about them)?
The times when we held hands
All of them have faded away.


Our love so great
Where did all of them go?
All of them have faded away.

So that everything will be alright
Have pity on me
So we can bring back
Our love once again.

Our love so great
It is better that we revive (it)
So that we can be together
Let us then get married.

Our love...

Friday, July 20, 2007


Khawis ay safeng
Ay inpagpagkhasoweng
Fab-a matalengteng
Awak maeteeteng.

Safeng kafornay
Inomen ad-i kalaklakay
Awak mablamablay
Felay maokaokay.

Akhas ay safeng
Ken kaana'n panateng
Fafai inkimen
Safeng enna inomen.

Khachiw ya agkhama
Khawis si naipesa
Amam-a laychencha
inomencha sa somya.

Free Translation:
Safeng is beneficial
Its taste is sour
It sets the teeth on edge
The body becomes continuously healthy.

Safeng in the claypot
If one drinks, s/he does not grow old
Even if the body is very tired
The tiredness is drained.

Safeng is a medicine
It removes cough and colds
A woman who is pregnant
She drinks safeng.

Fish and crabs
Mixing them in is good
The old men like it
They drink it and all is well.

(Safeng is a mixture of various ingredients – uncooked sweet potatoes, cassava, legumes and even fish bones and crabs. These ingredients are mixed in boiled water, then placed in a tightly closed claypot for a month and is drunk after that. Its smell is rather unpleasant but it is well-loved by old men and women, as testified by this song. During clan gatherings or rituals, it is mixed with rice and fish and placed on mulberry leaves for distribution.)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Manual on Effective Teaching in Bontoc Igorot Context: An Excerpt

(This is a section of what I wrote in my paper for my Effective Teaching class in the 1st semester of 2005.)
I realized during my stay here in Manila, and even when I was studying in Baguio City that people have so many misconceptions about indigenous peoples in the Cordilleras, collectively called Igorots. I also realized that the farther one goes, the more numerous and unsettling the misconceptions are as I experienced firsthand when I went to some parts of Mindanao. This is partly due to the textbooks used in schools, which obviously were not updated; also due to hearsay, and generalizations.
When the Missions group had a meeting one time to plan their exposure trip to Bontoc this semester break, one of them said to me that he wanted to go to the areas where the indigenous peoples in my hometown are so he could observe the culture. I was speechless for a moment, and then I told him that the people there are the indigenous people themselves, including myself. He was thinking of tribes that were up, up in the mountains and are very far away from so-called civilization, which is so much untrue for indigenous peoples nowadays.
In fact, that is the reason why I am focusing on the Bontoc Igorots, of which I am a part of, as a topic for my manual because there are a lot of complex issues involved. We are no longer dealing with indigenous peoples who are segregated from society, but are now immersed in and influenced by other cultures due to accessibility, intermarriage, migration, immigration, education, media, religion, and a whole lot of factors. With regards to media, I was even surprised to discover that there is a lot of information about Bontoc in the internet.
Cultural change is so rapid that there is now a great generation gap between the older generations from that of the succeeding generations. And the question is no longer about one’s identity as a Bontoc Igorot, but how to maintain a certain sense of identity in the midst of all these factors. I think that we can no longer expect to have a Bontoc Igorot identity or world view that has been left untouched or unchanged by the factors mentioned above. There would still be an identity, but one that has emerged from the influence and changes rendered by the factors.
I believe identity is important because it provides a person a sense of belongingness and community. One of the customs of the Bontoc people is that when a mother gives birth to her child, the father buries the placenta of the child under their house. I asked my grandmother why they had to do that and she said it is to give the child roots; that wherever s/he goes, s/he always comes back home to where a part of her/him is buried. That is such a great assurance for a person’s self-worth, that there is a place where s/he can always come back to no matter where life leads her/him.
But how does one balance respect for one’s own culture while integrating other cultures? This is of course a universal dilemma for all peoples. The media has opened a lot of options for us that it is difficult and at times, impossible to hold on to one’s identity as a part of a group, or a nation for that matter, unless extra measures are implemented. The world has indeed become what Marshall McLuhan termed ‘a global village’.
This is where education comes in, because it is a powerful tool to affirming the importance of holding on to one’s roots and one’s sense of identity, and at the same time, being open to other influences. It can serve as a guide for students to appreciate their own culture and in turn, appreciate other cultures as well.

Friday, April 13, 2007


This is a very interesting story of an Ifontok man named Timicheg, who died in Ghent, Belgium (circa 1913), and who will have (or maybe he already has) a street named after him: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view_article.php?article_id=28507.

(Kudos to http://www.igorotblogger.blogspot.com/)

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Sociolinguistic Observation

(This is a paper I wrote for my Sociolinguistics class.)
I am going to write about a multilingual situation that I observed in my younger cousins, when I went home summer of last year. It pertains to the addition of a language in their repertoire of languages due to media. This is also relevant to language shift as the language that is becoming popular to them may be the language that their generation might prefer to shift to if the time should come.
Our closest neighbor is my mother’s youngest brother. His two daughters, aged 3 and 6, were playing with another cousin, aged 7, in their front yard, which was located near our backdoor. I was in our house doing some household chores. They were playing bahay-bahayan, pretending that they were cooking something in their cooking set toys. Since they were not that far from where I was, their voices were quite audible.
When I listened in on their conversation, I was surprised to hear them speaking in Filipino or Tagalog for that matter. Only in instances where they find it hard to express themselves do they switch to the vernacular. Then one of my uncle’s sons, aged 5, wanted to join them and started saying, “Sali ak! Sali ak!” Now, sali is Tagalog for ‘join’ and ak is the vernacular for ‘I’. He was mixing the two languages using the grammar of the vernacular and the lexicon of both the vernacular and Tagalog. I corrected him and told him not to use sali, but to say mitapi, which is our vernacular for ‘join’. He did not listen to me but just kept on saying, “Sali ak! Sali ak!”
Tagalog had never been a popular language in our community before. For my generation, we learned it in school, starting in Grade 1, but most of us had little or no chance of using it during our younger years. Most of us would only start to speak Tagalog when we go to cities for schooling or find employment there. In my case, I practiced speaking Tagalog when I transferred to Baguio city in second year high school, but it was minimal. Most of the practice I had in high school was speaking the trade language of Ilocano since I was in a school whose students come from the Cordilleras, and Ilocano is the trade language in the Cordillera. Much of the practice I had in speaking Tagalog was in college because I was in a school whose students were much more diverse.
For my parent’s and grandparent’s generation, however, Tagalog was sparely used. In diglossia terms, theirs would strictly be English for H and the vernacular for L. My parent’s generation is much better in speaking the said language, since they also learned it in school, but my grandparent’s generation would have no comprehension of it. In short, it would be very much surprising to hear children in my day or in their day using Tagalog as the playtime language. It was a far cry from the situation, which I observed from my younger cousins.
What led to this great change? What prompted Tagalog to rise out of nowhere and become popular enough for children to use it in their playtime? One of the huge and probably the most pervasive factor is cable television, which came to Bontoc in 1997. Along with it came the local programs, of which Tagalog was the language commonly used. My younger cousins’ generation had been far more exposed to television than I did when I was their age. In addition, Tagalog telenovelas or prime time soap operas shown everyday not only hooked adults and surprisingly grandparents, some of whom rely on translation from the younger generation to grasp the story, but children as well. It is no longer unusual to hear children singing the Tagalog theme song of a popular telenovela or soap opera nowadays. Situations and events wherein a child can imagine himself or herself to be in now included speaking Tagalog, as in the case of my younger cousins.
However, there are other factors as well. Some of them would be more accessible roads, which attract more tourists and allow businesses and trade to thrive; migration especially for students who come to Bontoc for their schooling; and intermarriage.
Although it is inevitable that Bontoc children will learn Tagalog in school and that they may eventually learn to speak it, the influence of media has elevated its status to become a language that children speak even before they learn it in school. This is a different mechanism from the way the generations before them learned it. It is no longer a language that is imposed upon a community because of a language policy, but it now becomes a language that a younger generation chooses to speak in. Because of this, it will certainly have a more invasive effect on the vernacular, especially on the vocabulary of the incoming generation.
How it will lead from here, whether this phenomenon may mean just another addition of a language in a multilingual community or whether the media may have that much influence in directing a language shift, is still speculation. Only the future knows how this phenomenon will develop in the Bontoc community.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Nan Ensasab-atan

(Here is an attempt to write poetry in my language.)

Ad-i ngen khawis nan kasin tako masab-atan.
Nan sanga ya iliw enna pen kaan.
Ad-i karkarpasan nan okhod tako.
Nan ango et kag ad-i kakonto.

Fowan ya tawen nan mafilang
Isnan eg-ay tako nen-ilaan.
Ngem ya ket nay naamong tako
Kag eg-ay nasisyan nan awak tako.

Ifaagyo'd ay lilwidko
Mo ngag nan inmat isnan fiyagyo.
Ayet achi ichad-atyo
Ta kasin tako maammowan chadlo.

Enyaman ak et ken Apo Chios
Tay nan fiyagyo naornos.
Itoltolongna koma kayet chakayo
Ta khawis kasin nan masab-atan tako.

Free Translation:
How good it is that we meet again.
It indeed removes sadness and homesickness.
Our story-telling does not end.
Our laughter does not stop.

Months and years can be counted
When we have not seen each other.
But now that we are gathered
It’s like our bodies did not separate.

Tell me my friends
What happened to your lives.
Come on, relate to me
So that I will know again.

I thank God
That your life is in order.
May he continue to lead you
So that our next meeting will again be well.