Sunday, September 15, 2019

Watch and Listen to these Cordilleran Songs and Music (Bontoc, Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao)

Most of these videos are not sang in the dialect, but in Ilocano, which is, typically, the common language used by most of the provinces in the Cordillera.

However, they are sang by local folks from these provinces. Cordilleran songs are full of awesome melodies and lyrics.

There are soulful love songs and quick warrior songs. The usual accompaniment is the guitar as it’s handy and easy to carry around.

It would have been superb if there were songs accompanied by the Kalinga flute.

And the gongs (gangsa) would have been a great accompaniment to rock songs, don’t you think?

Anyway, watch these videos and learn more about the Cordillerans and their music.

There are Bontoc, Benguet, Ifugao, and Kalinga songs.

Some of them are in the dialect. Most of the songs are original compositions.

But there are some that are covers of popular songs. For these videos, I want listeners to appreciate the voice of the singers.

This one is an awesome interpretation of "Our Father".

Here are Kalinga chants

Friday, September 7, 2018

Pictures and Descriptions of Kalinga Costumes

Igorot costumes are similar to Kalinga costumes; however, there are certain differences that an observant could notice.

Let’s discuss them in detail.

Kalinga Ginamat

 In Kalinga, the ginamat is a rectangular woven material that usually measures 4 to 5 feet long and 3 to 3.5 inches wide.

This is for women and is worn as a skirt by winding it around the waist and hooking it up at the ends. Unlike the Bontocs, the ginamats for Kalingas don’t have an accompanying ‘tail’ or ginamat back extensions.

There may be beads incorporated into the colorful ginamat’s design but no belts or additional appendages. This is one of the Kalinga native costumes that have intricate designs.

During the olden times, women wore only the ginamat without any upper clothing. Thus, women are topless, especially married and old women.

The clothing is entirely hand woven, done by ingenious women, who patiently created art through their woven materials.

Up to this day, back in the provinces, ginamats are still hand woven. However, in the big cities, some machines were built to facilitate the procedure of weaving the ginamat.

Kalinga G-string

This Kalinga native costume is worn by men to hide their lower private parts. It’s similar to the ginamat but narrower and longer.

It usually measures more than 5 feet in length but is only around ¾ foot in width. It’s worn by winding the woven material on the waist and the lower private parts to secure the G-string.

Typically, the cheeks of the buttocks are not covered but only the anal and penile areas. There’s also no upper clothing for men - just the G-string.

For other Cordillera regions the G-strings are the same, except perhaps with the designs. Nowadays, The G-strings are wider to be able to cover most of the buttocks.

But still, briefs are not worn, but only the G-string. And yes, the Kalingas are now wearing trendy clothes, just like their urban counterparts.

Ginamats and G-strings are only worn during cultural festivities and special occasions.

Kalinga Accessories Worn with the Ginamat

Kalinga Bongor.

The bongor is a string of beads worn like a necklace. The beads are genuine gems and are valuable.

Kalinga women who had bongors are usually the affluent and people who have high positions in the village. The bigger the beads are, the richer the person is.

Often, one piece of these genuine beads is worth 1 carabao. And the carabao is an expensive animal because it’s used as a work animal.

Hence, you can just imagine how expensive the beads are. Perhaps, comparing to the present price of carabaos, it could cost around 7 thousand to 10 thousand pesos.

The present generation has created native beads that could be worn on top of the head on the wrist (bracelet) and feet (anklet).

Kalinga Headdress

Aside from women wearing headdresses, men can also wear them. Sometimes, the “crown” is adorned with feathers and natural items.

Presently, Kalingas have become more ingenious, creating beautiful headdresses.


Although this is not an accessory in the true meaning of the word, it’s considered as one because people with tattoos were highly respected.

Tattoos are indications of bravery and high prestige. The younger Kalinga generation; however, are not so keen in having themselves tattooed because they may be discriminated on.

This is understandable as tattoos are prohibited in most schools, in blood donation, and in other significant events and institutions.

Almost all of the elders are tattooed, and they are proud of their ethnicity.

These are the basic Kalinga costumes worn during the olden days.

Of course, with the passage of time, the native Kalinga costume underwent some changes.

Nowadays, Kalinga women wear blouses during cultural presentations.

But take note that there was a time when women were topless, and people in the village didn’t find anything malicious with it; they were not embarrassed at all.

Only the men remain topless and semi-nude.

So, there you go, these are the descriptions of the basic Kalinga costumes.

You can view the images to have an idea how they look like.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Watch Kalinga in Pictures

Kalinga is famous for its rolling, verdant mountains and lush vegetation. Watch these pictures and see for yourself. All these beautiful pictures of Lubuagan, Kalinga belong to the photographer Jun Ilacad Ysmael. Thanks, Jun.
These pictures of Taloctoc, Tanudan, Kalinga depict the beauty of nature, and the natural resources of Kalinga...all photos are courtesy of Virgo Evergreen. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Beautiful Memories When I was a Kid in Taloctoc, Tanudan, Kalinga

Sometimes memories can bring tears in your eyes or a smile on your lips. Whatever emotions they provoke, poignant memories are luxuries enjoyed by aged people, while there are still neurons that can recall momentous events in their lives.

These memories are like jewels coming to their brilliance when the physical body can no longer venture to the outside world, but the mind is still alive and kicking.

Photo credit to the Photographer

For me, my beautiful memories when I was a kid in Taloctoc, Tanudan in the Hinterlands of Kalinga are my most precious jewels. And even in my dreams, they keep recurring, like a long-playing record, never wanting to end.

Let me share these memories with you.

Water is precious 

During my time, there was still no running water in this little paradise. We have to fetch water from a well that was dug in the riverbank. You may not believe it when I say that the water has a distinct sweet taste that I have never tasted from other water sources.

You can understand what I mean, if you have drank from a river-well too. I was only 7 years old then, but I have to balance a big pot on my head from the river to our modest house. It was around 2 km away, and a little uphill.

Plus, I had to fill our water container until it was full. It was hard work, but it introduced me to the notion that to be able to drink, you have to endure the hardships.

The supernatural exists 

There was also a big tamarind tree in our backyard that used to visit me in my dreams, even up to this day. The tree was as tall as a three-story building, and it was robustly thriving all year through, with an abundance of fruits.

We never took care of it, but there it was proudly standing high, waving its evergreen leaves at the sky –defiantly – seeming to proclaim that no matter what – it will survive on its own. I’m assuming that the tree is where those eerie shadows emanated from.

During night time there were shadows that I had encountered that suddenly disappears when I spoke. One time, I thought the shadow was my younger brother, so I called out to him, but it disappeared right before my very eyes. It was scary, and at my young age, I have considered it a common occurrence in my village.


I have witnessed firebirds perched atop the rooftop of a soon-to-be-deceased person. Having a firebird visit your house when you’re sick is a death sentence. “Matoy sinsinna e algaw.” (He may die today.)

The bird had feathers that glow red during the night and produced a loud cooing that was heard a mile away; the sound seeming to call the dying person into the afterlife. However, today, I don’t think the strange bird survived the onslaught of development.

Summer paradise 

During summer, after working in the fields the whole day, we spend our late afternoons in the Chico River swimming and diving, filling our ravenous stomachs with wild berries and sweet guavas that grew abundantly in the riverbank.

We also went fishing using our bare hands. It was easy catching the small school of fishes as the water was shallow and all we did was to dry up the water bed. When it starts to get dark, we finally went home, exhausted but beaming with childhood glee.

Oh, yes of course, we swim in the nude. Everyone was naked but no one saw malice in it. I could go on and on, talking about my childhood days in Taloctoc, Tanudan, Kalinga, but the space for this post won’t suffice. So, let’s do it on installment basis.

While you're here, you may want to read more of my experiences in these posts:

This post is about Lubuagan, Kalinga and Its Poignant Memories

I would like to invite you to my village –Taloctoc, the paradise I had known as a child; the tranquil verdant mountains, the clear, rambling Chico river, and the unadulterated air in the atmosphere. Intakkon od Taloctoc, Kalinga! (Let’s visit Taloctoc, Kalinga!)

More stories next time folks. Let me share first this video of a Taloctoc – Ilocano chant we had usually recited when we were young:

Dong dong kawayan
Kawayan pinanggayan
Pinanggayan de olay
Olay e pagay uppay
Pagay uppay e dogway
Dogway e namillapil
Namillapil nang ngasil
Nang-ngasil dala-upa
Dala-upa kataba
Kataba pagiyokan
Ipos ti kabayo
a napiko-piko
Alam ta kanem.

Here's the video:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Simple Life that i-Kalingas Live during Christmas and all Year Through

I speak from my childhood experience way back during the olden days in Taloctoc, Tanudan. Hence, some of you may no longer be practicing these simple ways. Nevertheless, I’m compelled to write these customs and way of living, so you can go back to them every now and then. They’re worth emulating.

1. Christmas was usually celebrated by a simple program presented by the elementary students of our small village. This program was organized by the only female and the only non-i-Taloctoc teacher. A mass was celebrated by a visiting priest, if there was one. If none, then the program was enough. Some families cooked special dishes and some did not.

During night time, the kids went caroling. Some girls and boys lighted up bonfires and sang the salidummay. Christmas was not a major holiday back then. I went caroling with some kids and there were old people who didn’t want to be bothered from their sleep: “Umma ko-on yo? Laydon yo danum?” (What are you doing? Do you want water?) They would shout as they proceeded to get a pail of cold water to douse us with.

So, we ran out of reach, while shouting, “You’re stingy!”

I guess times have changed now. I would like to read your comments about the updates that are happening now. You can leave them in the comment section below.

Taloctoc Elementary School; Courtesy of Virgo Evergreen
2. With regards to daily meals, freshly picked fish was cooked by simmering it in water only, with a few cloves of garlic or a piece of ginger. We sometimes washed the fish, wrapped them in banana leaves and placed them inside bamboo poles, cut into foot-long pieces. Then we cooked the fish over low fire.

You wouldn’t believe how delicious this fish dish is. The natural flavor of the fish is mixed with the aroma of fresh banana leaves. 3. Freshly butchered pig meat, yes, everything was fresh. We didn’t have refrigerators, so we plucked the veggies, and butchered the animal right before we had cooked them.

All we needed was water to cook the meat. Of course, we have cut them into cubes first before boiling with water. NO CONDIMENTS. I would never forget its delectable taste.

However, we had ground red pepper with rock salt in a saucer, where we would dip the meat before eating it. Yes, we didn’t mix the condiments with the meat when cooking, because it masked the natural and fresh flavor of the meat.

4. Likewise with veggies and other dishes; we simply boil them with water. Try it sometime, when you’re sure that your vegetables are fresh from the garden. I promise you, you would be able to taste the real flavor of the food.

5. As for clothing, we were not very particular. As long as the clothes are clean, and our private parts are covered, we wear them. So, we often saw people with holes or tears on their clothes. But mind you, don’t judge by appearances because that old woman with tattered clothes may be the wealthiest person in their village.

They could actually be owners of gold pieces (yes, genuine gold) and layers of rice paddies.

 6. Every person lived simply and there were no places for complexity – even during Christmas time.

This Christmas, I wish all the i-Kalingas, all tribes in the mountains, and all people around the world a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you fulfill all your dreams in this lifetime and be a blessing to others.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why Kalingas are One of the Most Trusted People in the World

You may have the impression that I’m boastful and just pulling your leg, but I’m not. I’ve witnessed this honesty first hand during my childhood days.

Obviously, there may be inevitable changes today. But I’m declaring that Kalinga people are inherently honest. Let me mention specific circumstances to support my claim:

1.    Houses were never locked

In our village, sometimes, I and my friends played hide and seek inside empty houses. The old folks were all in the field or kaingin working.

The tots were left behind – including me - some naked, and some with snots and morning glories in their eyes; some with mud and soil on their bodies. But we rarely got sick. We have developed significant immunity against certain diseases. We were too young to work, so we took care of ourselves and eat whatever was left by the elders.

But wait, we’re going off topic. So, the houses were unlocked. We opened the door and freely entered. Valuable items were left lying around and no one ever coveted or stole someone else’s property.

Of course, there’s no such Utopia anywhere, so there was one man who was tempted to steal a goat. Yes, a goat; animals were very valuable then. The entire village witnessed his ‘trial’ with the village leader resolving the issue. He never repeated his misdeed again.


2.    Marriages were not documented on paper

During marriages, a ‘taddok’ (playing of gongs) was rendered by various groups. Then a pig or carabao was slaughtered for food. “Basi” (wine) was shared and the merriment continued up to the wee hours of dawn.

Big bonfires were built at the center of the plaza and girls and boys sang the “salidummay’, while flirting with one another. The old men and women talked among themselves, recalling phenomenal events in the village. There were many weird and strange encounters with supernatural beings and ghosts.

The couple then would live as husband and wife, without proper documentation of their marriage. I guess this doesn’t apply nowadays. One has to possess a paper stating that she is legally married to Mr. so and so.

Nevertheless, I’m attempting to show you how it was in the olden days. Those marriage vows were lasting. Couples stayed together through thick and thin. They resolved any misunderstanding and remained true to their oral vows. That was how honest people were.

3.    Verbal agreements are honored

You don’t need a paper and a signature to legalize agreements. You simply state your agreements verbally and it was sealed permanently. The folk honored them and never questioned their legality.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a society such as this one?

Today, I’m sure this custom still exists in Kalinga villages. This may not be true with the cities and bigger provinces because these places are melting pots; people come from a variety of foreign places.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Gardening in Taloctoc, Edible Leaves of Root Crops

Gardening in Taloctoc, Kalinga was never a problem because the soil is rich and fertile. You can plant any veggies and it will spring robustly from the ground.

My mother and I had one such camote garden below the teacher’s quarters. We cultivated camote (sweet potato), pechay (Chinese white cabbage) and various edible veggies in out small garden plots.

Image credit: PhilippinePlants&Tress

They grew robustly that we had harvested big camote tubers and also camote tops. The camote tubes were delicious desserts, while the camote tops were nutrition and sumptuous side dishes. We could survive just harvesting our produce from that garden. How I miss those days.

A gardener should be aware of what root crops have edible leaves. This is because he would be able to maximize the plants’ benefits and save money.

It is a gift from nature that some root crops have edible leaves. He would also know what parts of the plant he should take care the most.

He should know what parts of the leaves are good for food. The young shoots are the best part of the leaves because they are fresher, more tender and edible. The following are some of these root crops.

Edible Leaves of Root Crops

Sweet Potato

The sweet potato is a tuber that could be cooked as dessert. The tasty roots are usually boiled with sugar and milk. The young shoots could be cooked as a succulent vegetable dish, too. Even the green young stems are also nutritious and edible. The tuber could be steamed, fried, roasted, or boiled.


The radish has edible leaves and tubes. In addition, it is rich with essential nutrients, such as vitamin C. People should select the top, leafy part of the vegetable for cooking because they are tastier and easily masticated. The leaves can be cooked with fish or in combination with other vegetables.


The bulb of the onion is an excellent ingredient to bring out the flavor of dishes. It is used as a common condiment with almost any dish, whether this is a vegetable or meat dish. The leaves of the onion could also be sautéed or cooked together with the bulb to spice up food and come up with succulent cuisine. The bulb could be cut into small pieces and boiled with meat and fish dishes too.


Just like onion, ginger is a delicious spice that could be mixed with any dish. The leaves and the rhizomes could be cooked together to spice food. They also lend a scrumptious odor to the dish. Sometimes, they could be used as therapeutic drinks for people suffering from sore throat and mouth infections.


Also called elephant’s ear, the taro’s tuber and leaves are equally edible as vegetable dishes. Both should be cooked thoroughly though, because the calcium oxalate crystals they contain are irritating to the mouth. The leaves and tuber could be cooked with coconut juice to add flavor.


Turmeric is the same family as ginger. It is used as a spice to add flavor to dishes. Its leaves are also edible and have the same role in preparing delicious cuisine. The rhizomes could be cut into small strips and sautéed, or grated and added to dishes.

These are some root crops which have delicious and edible leaves. Knowledge of their usefulness could allow people to experiment and prepare delicious dishes that would satisfy even the most fastidious tongue.

Here's a video of edible leave:

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Kissing Customs across the World

Kissing is a universal act that applies to every culture and country. The meaning of the kiss, however, varies with each country.

Kisses have always been an expression of love, care and concern. Knowing the meaning of a kiss in different parts of the world would allow you to understand more the customs governing countries across the world.

Kissing in India

Indians are very particular about their public display of affection. Kissing in public is generally condemned. One incident that had caused an uproar among Indians is American actor Richard Gere’s kissing of Indian actress, Shilpa Shetty.

Most Indians were aghast with Gere’s light kiss on Shetty’s cheeks, and they find it insulting. Indian showbiz personalities and some of the younger generation, however, are more liberated, and found no malice in Gere’s actions.

As a rule, though, do not kiss any person in public to play safe in India. In Delhi, a public kiss would be fined $12. In private, only married couples could kiss on the lips, and sometimes, a kiss on the cheeks and a hug from family members is allowed.

Kissing in Saudi Arabia

Kissing in public, whether it is on the lips or on the cheeks, and whether it is among couples or relatives is strictly prohibited. It is considered a crime to show affection in public. A British man and woman were jailed for one month because

they were caught kissing in the mall in front of other people. Most Middle Eastern countries consider kissing in public as indecent and immoral and are given sanctions.

Kissing in Italy

Italians kiss in public or in private with their spouses, their family members, and friends. They show affection by hugging and kissing without lending any malice to the kiss unless specifically intended. They are expressive of how they feel. Just like in any civilized country, there is a limit to what they can do in public.

Of all the countries in the world, Americans are the most demonstrative of their affection and love. They kiss in public anywhere they want to. A few of them even engage in orgies, and unusual sexual expressions.

There are laws concerning lewdness and indecency, though, that foreigners should be aware of. Decent people do not just make love in public places, and sanctions are given to those who flagrantly violate the law.

Although, gay relationships are now accepted in some states, several people still view gay kissing in public as an affront to their sensibilities.

Kissing in London

Kissing in public in London is fine if the persons do not French kiss. A light kiss on the lips and the cheeks is accepted. You would be charged with indecency, nevertheless, if you do heavy necking and petting in public.

In comparison to the Americans, the British are more conservative in their public display of affection.

Kissing in the Philippines

Filipinos are like their Southeast Asian neighbors, they display public affection sparingly. Couples could kiss each other’s lips and cheeks in public. Family and friends could greet each other with a kiss on the cheeks and a hug.

Sanctions are given to persons who do more than the light kiss. They would be charged with indecency and immorality and would be fined and incarcerated depending upon the gravity of their offenses.

Kissing in Kalinga

In Kalinga, kissing someone is a private affair that cannot be done publicly. The young i-Kalingas are bolder now, and some can kiss (on the cheeks) in public.

However, kissing on the lips in front of many people is still taboo. The groom kissing the bride in a wedding is acceptable though, and rare occasions when couples are allowed to kiss on the lips.

Kissing customs vary for each country, so when you visit other countries you should be familiar with their culture. If unsure of the customs, then don’t do it. It is always best to play safe to avoid unnecessary pain and embarrassment.

Do you agree with these practices? Feel free to leave a comment below to dispute these observations.