When I was 5 years old, I witnessed a man who had been a victim of a tribal dispute. There in front of me was a dead man; his head was sewn to his neck as it was totally severed from his body apparently with a razor-sharp bolo.
Back then, there was no “bodong” (peace pact) between my village and another village so it was a full blown tribal war. The death toll was rising and more and more grieving families wanted revenge for their loved ones.
Headhunting was then the method of revenge of one village to another. It did not matter whether you’re a relative or not of the deceased, as long as you belonged to that village then you had to be careful.
There were times when we took cover in the forests when the avenging tribal warriors from the other village came to extract revenge. Children were the most affected, in my young mind, it was a traumatic experience. I could still hear the cries of people around me as everyone scrambled for safety. Women and children were brought to safety, while the men geared up for war.
A lookout/crier would be assigned every night and would warn the people when danger is near so we could all ran for cover.
My grandfather once told me that there were vicious tribes who even bring the head with them to their village and would dance around it all night long. But, I thank God; I had never witnessed such event.
My native folks were really gentle people but they were extremely protective of family and territory. No villager would venture into another without proper information and permission. I grew up amidst these dangers.
Great efforts were made to reconcile the tribal differences with what we call the “bodong” (peace pact). It was an agreement forged with native rituals from both villages.
Little by little as education was brought to the young and some pursued higher education, a semblance of peace started to be established, as they began to realize that there is nothing to gain by these continuous slaughter, of even, innocent people.
As I grew up to become a teen, there were some villages that still went on with their tribal wars but by then, they were using guns. These were the villages which just wanted domination and not peace.
Slowly though, through the efforts of well meaning elders and socially responsible villagers, the “bodong” began to be established between each of the villages. It was a long drawn out process though with lots of impediments along the way.
Up to this time, the “bodong” is still the key that is keeping most of the villages in peace. Although, this agreement was and is not executed in the presence of an attorney, it was, and is, a lasting and well respected pact that every villager observed.
I still have to go back to my roots eventually in the future. But I know the Kalinga people are peace-loving and have a strong noble spirit of unity and responsibility for one another.
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!)