Saturday, March 29, 2008

THE "BODONG" (PEACE PACT)


By: Prof. MANOLO S. BALLUG

The author is a native of Kalinga. His mother an Ilocano from Cervantes and his father from Taloctoc, Kalinga. He is a retired academician and is so zestful in his desire to preserve the Kalinga culture. This was written by him based on personal experiences.

(The Taloctoc Experience)
In the province of Kalinga one of the provinces in the Cordillera Autonomous Region of Northern Luzon, Philippines, the tribes are bound or beholden to each other by a system called the "bodong" (peace pact).

The bodong is similar to the international treaties, in that it has provisions, constitutions,and by-laws, that includes, territory, people and government which are covered by the terms and conditions of the "bodong".

The provisions also include the following : care, assistance, protection, as well as imposing penalty on cases of violation of these provisions. The "bodong" protects people and visitors from both tribes, especially in emergencies .

The system has an oral constitution and by laws which is called "pagta" (oral statement of the terms and conditions, manner , limitations, ways and means in business, in emergencies in the relationship of all persons within the territories of both agreeing tribes). The penal code is orally given for specific violations. When a problem arises, the leaders of both tribes would convene and would recall the "pagta's" oral provisions relative to the case at bar; and then and there, solve the existing problem.

The bodong is usually established when an individual member of a tribe or barrio has a business relationship with another person from the other tribe. This is a specific example: Mr. Suma-il of Barrio Taloctoc, Tanudan living on the eastern slope of Mt Patokan bought a carabao from Mr. Dumawig of Tanglag, Lubuagan. Dumawig then will barter goods also - a coconut for a cup of beans, etc. - this is called "abbuyog' (sharing) .

From there the relationship intensifies; Suma-il now sends a a spear or javelin to Dumawig. Dumawig in turn sends a bolo (big knife) . This is called "allasio" (the beginning of the peace pact). The People involved may or may not retain the original partners but in most cases, the people retains the original partners out of respect.

During the celebration of the "allasio", the parties may discuss the arrangement for the "inum" the preliminary celebration of the bodong.

When the "inum" is celebrated the discussion on the permanent pact holders may be brought out for deliberation. This maybe the original people involved or their nearest next of kin.

The final selection will be based on the required qualifications of the peace pact holder.

1. He/she must belong to a big clan, having many relatives, many brothers, sisters, cousins
2. He must be intelligent, a good leader , of good financial standing and must have the respect of the community.

The reason why the size of the clan is important is that violators of any provision will fear vengeance or punishment inflicted by the clan in retaliation for an injury or offense as orally embodied in the "pagta".

Wealth is likewise important because visitors from the other tribe usually stays at the peace pact holder's house whenever they travel and would be expecting the generous hospitality of the peace pact holder.

One special feature of the "bodong" is that in order for the holder to be able to protect the members of the other tribe, the holder must be informed whenever one or two people enter the other one's territory. If the peace pact holder is not informed, any assistance to the visitor may be denied and he will have problems leaving the barrio.

Whether the visitor stays at the peace pact holder's house or not, the holder must still be informed as a form of courtesy. It is considered a major offense not to.

Today, "bodongs" have written constitutions and by - laws suited to the present needs, likes and dislikes of the people involved in it.

Present day "bodongs" do not have the so called "top-al", where in very valuable things costing 5-10 carabaos are given as a symbol of agreement. Any visitor committing an offense would pay the same designated value.

The "bodong" in the past were binding in spite of the fact that the constitution and by-laws were done orally.

There was a time in the past when the two barrios of Tinglayan were engaged in a tribal war. The Philippine government sent a battalion of soldiers to stop the fighting but nothing came out of it; the tribal war raged on. It was only after the late Congressman Antonio Canao of Lubuagan (being a well, respected native himself) intervened between the warring tribes. that the killing stopped.

The fighting stopped when the congressman stepped in because of the "pagta" which stipulated that both tribes should maintain cordial relationships to enhance prosperity, peace and order between them.

There was a time that politicians tried to abolish the practice and this has resulted to the rise in crimes in the province.



For the "bodong" to be successful, the "bodong" holders and the members of both tribes must cooperate to uphold the ideals that it has -for many years- stood for.
MANOLO BALLUG

THE TREK FROM LUBUAGAN TO TALOCTOC

My high school days were in St. Teresita's College in Lubuagan, the capital then of Kalinga. Lubuagan was two mountains away from Taloctoc. For a seasoned hiker, the trek took only 4 hours; but for me, it was a 6-7 hour-hike to home. I was always asked to take the lead during these hikes as they knew I would be left behind and "lost", if I did not. I was considered the "weakling", not so much used to the rigors of Taloctoc life. This is because I stayed in the city of Baguio since birth up to 5 years old.

The trail was narrow and treacherous, winding its way through the mountains. We passed by waterfalls, streams and a variety of biota, plants I have seen only there and the view had always been breathtaking whenever we reached the summit. At the peak, we can view the little barrio nestled at the foot of the opposite mountain like a miniature toy, with the coconut trees jutting among the less than a hundred nipa huts.

It was a welcomed rest as soon as we reach that point, as we know the trek downhill was easier. I remembered getting so hungry, (I forgot to bring something to eat) but it was no problem as guavas and blueberries grew everywhere.

At the end of the hike, before we could reach the barrio itself, we have first to cross the raging currents of the Chico river. There was no other way in, unless we take a detour 10 hours away. The river held many memorable events for me. It was in the river that I almost lost my life during one of the fiercest storms, when I refused to stay in town as I was "dying" of homesickness for my family. (but that is another story)

The Chico river served as a refuge for me and many others. With its sparkling, clear waters and fine, white sand; it was a peaceful and calming place to be. It is where we stay when we were not in school and one of the places where we go picnicking. We cooked rice on bamboo containers and caught fish with our bare hands. Have you ever tasted food cooked on these bamboo containers? They taste like no other.

The barrio folk would wait patiently by the riverbank every Friday evening to ensure that their kids were back home safely. During inclement weather, all of them would be there shouting assurances to us and to those who were assisting us across the river by the use of rafts and pulleys.

Those were the days.

COMMON KALINGA WORDS

ENGLISH TO TALOCTOC
Some of the words (like table and window) are actually English words pronounced in the native accent. This is because these things were not yet used during the olden days.

1. TABLE - TEBOL
2. WINDOW - WINDO
3. BOLO - BODONG
4. FLOWER - POLAWEL
5. TEACHER - MISTALA
6. RAIN - UDAN
7. RICE - ISNA
8. FISH - GADIW
9. RICEFIELDS - PAYAO
10. RIVER - DAW-WANG
11. WATER - DANUM
12. FIRE - APOY
13. BOY - LALAKI ( L HERE IS PRONOUNCED AS Y)
14. GIRL - BABAI
15. WIFE/HUSBAND - ASAWA
16. GRANDFATHER/GRANDMOTHER - APPO OR APO
17. CHILD - ANAK
18. MOUNTAIN - BELEG
19. CUP - TASA
20. PLATE - PALATO

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