Agricultural Rituals of Sabangan

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Like any other communities in the Cordillera region, the villagers of Sabangan annually perform their traditional beliefs and practices to keep them healthy, give them abundant harvests and sustain peace and order.

In their agricultural calendar, lepah is a ritual performed after the bundles of palay are piled up (kapin) in the rice granary or agamang of each household or family.

Each household butchers and cooks chicken and a pot of rice. The family members then eat together, while at the same share bygone stories.

In the village, a bigger affair is held at the ato. Lemdang, a local term, is part of the rite where dried beans and rice are collected from each household, then cooked separately at the at-atoan for a community meal.

The elders butcher a chicken in the ato. Before it is sliced to desired sizes and cooked, an elder reads the position of the bile.  If the bile reader proclaims the sign is good then another chicken is butchered and offered to Igorot god Kabunyan for prosperous agricultural harvest and healthy people in the village.

Before and after eating, the men and boys play the gongs while the women and girls dance.

All the people of the village partake with the cooked food in the ato compound. While eating, the people exchange pleasantries.

Begnah is another agricultural ceremony. A day before this is celebrated, an elder or a community crier shouts in the village proclaiming that begnah will be celebrated the following day, a tengaw or community rest day.

During the tengaw, some community elders sleep in the ato. In the early morning, the men will walk to the designated mountain where they usually see and hear the sound of the labeg, a type of a bird. If the sound is positive, the men who heard it shout so the other males who went to another direction be informed of the good sign.

The men come together and proceed to the papatayan, a certain place in the mountain, where the old men butcher a chicken. The chicken meat is offered to Kabunyan and deities for the good sign that the labeg imparted.

After a short chanting, they go down to the village. As come near, they beat (pakipak) the wooden shields while they shout a-lo-lo-lo-lo to signal the people in the community that the labeg gave a positive indication for the people to continue with the ritual.

The villagers bring with them sweet potato (lokto or ubi) or boiled or wrapped sticky rice in the ato as snacks. While the people are being gathered, the elders with the help of younger men butcher a pig.

As the pork meat and rice are being cooked, the takik is played. The gongs and other musical instruments are played by men, a man dances the tayaw while the women and girls dance the salibi. Every after the takik, an elder chants the basabas, where the elder requests Kabunyan for more blessings, abundant harvests, good health and peace and order.

After the pork meat and rice are cooked, the elders perform chants or prayers to Kabunyan for prosperity. All the villagers partake with food afterwards which ends the rites.

By Francis B. Degay

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