Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Bodong, The Taloctoc Experience

(Second time around)

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 include, 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 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 retain 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 stay 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 Ganoa 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.
This is the Taloctoc experience. This custom is still being practiced in most provinces in Kalinga and modifications are done to adapt to each tribe's preferences but the basic rituals are still observed.


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