‘Inayan’ to a Cordilleran

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“Cordillerans believe in ‘inayan,’” says my good friend Amor Lois, a native of Tadian. After reading my column last Sunday talking about the 10 Attributes of a Real Cordilleran, she was quick to add this. And I agree that ‘inayan’ is a must-add on the list. (If you missed the article last Sunday, you can read it in our online archive at www.baguioheraldexpress.com/opinion.)

She illustrates, “Inayan ay menpoo si bilig, inayan ay manbasura san ketang.”

Before I continue her explanation and translate that line, let me share what I understand about ‘inayan.’ ‘Inayan’ is usually uttered by the old folks when they warn somebody (usually an innocent young mind or a stubborn old brat) not to do something ‘bad,’ otherwise something bad will happen. In my young mind, it came as a very vague idea yet I knew it is a critical norm to live by.

I remember asking my mother when I was a little young boy (Now, I’m just young!), “Why is it ‘inayan’?” She could not answer. She could not explain. She would just look at me in the eye and reiterate, “Inayan!” So the good boy in me simply obeyed.

Going back to my friend’s illustration:“Inayan ay menpoo si bilig, inayan ay manbasura san ketang.” Loosely translated: “It’s bad to burn mountains/forests, it’s bad to throw trash on rivers and creeks; it’s ‘inayan.’”

Amor continued to explain, “They (Cordillerans) believe that there are spirits who dwell on trees, on the rivers and beneath the earth. No, they are not pagans; they just respect life. That’s why they still have their beautiful Cordillera.”

I so agree with Amor. She, a Cordilleran herself (a taraki-napintas from Tadian), explained well the concept of ‘inayan.’ It is one of those cultural norms in our Cordilleran veins that must be retained and nurtured.

No, I’m not speaking about going back to old religion or to paganism or to an animistic culture that is often misinterpreted.

The real essence of ‘inayan’ – I believe – is upholding goodness. You do not do such bad things because it is bad. That’s it! And on the opposite of the line, you do good things because it is good.

In the illustration by Amor, the reason we do not burn forests and mountains and why we do not dirt our creeks and rivers is all because we respect life! In them are spirits of life that also give us life. Note that they are called natural resources – life giving life. It is just right that we respect that life.

As illustrated, the concept of ‘inayan’ is applied in environmental preservation – the rivers, the mountains, and the wild. But ‘inayan’ is also applicable and relevant to other areas of life. For example: It’s inayan to scam or steal on your kailians! It’s inayan to engage in Ponzi-schemes. It’s inayan to violate contracts or tulagan. (What else? Share your examples…)

To my fellow Cordillerans, let this be an invitation for us to continue upholding the concept of ‘inayan’ that is part of our culture. If, for some reasons, we have forgotten this norm (e.g. mountains were burned and the fisheries were disturbed like the wadingan ed ginawang et enggay natuba-an), then this is the time to reconsider our practice. If, for wonderful reasons, we have lived by this norm, then this is the time to congratulate ourselves and keep on upholding this ‘inayan’. The life-preserving practice of ‘inayan’ must be continued. This is a precious pigment in our Cordilleran core.

Last Wednesday, we commemorated Cordillera Day. As part of the tradition, gongs may have been played in some provinces, which is a roaring mark of our colorful culture. Alongside should be ‘inayan,’ a thriving norm that could preserve our rich culture, our rich Cordilleras, and our rich lives.

“Et sana kasin: Gabay! Sapay koma ta matago-tago tako am-in! Ja unpala-palad ketijon emen!”

(Ask a Kankana-ey and an Ibaloi to translate that last quotation.|From the chilly Cordilleras, let me greet once again my friend Amor a belated happy birthday! Let your Cordilleran beauty continually exude from the inside out.|Feedback or suggestions to this column is welcome, email chrisdaoanis@ymail.com.)