In his uggayam, or traditional chant, Ama Julio Longan, 68, of the Taloctoc sub-tribe of Kalinga urged his audience in a human rights rally to join mabtad, where Cordillera communities and groups are urged to collectively act in searching for James Balao, an activist missing since September 17.
BY ARTHUR ALLAD-IW
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES WATCH
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. north of Manila) – In his uggayam, or traditional chant, Ama Julio Longan, 68, of the Taloctoc sub-tribe of Kalinga urged his audience in a human rights rally to join mabtad, where Cordillera communities and groups are urged to collectively act in searching for James Balao, an activist missing since September 17.
Mabtad is a traditional call and practice in Kalinga and Mountain Province, particularly in binodngan or bodong (peace pact) practicing areas. Members of communities are mobilized during calamities or in times of dire need – whether it is due to man made acts or natural ones, explained Longan, a veteran of restoring broken peace pacts in Kalinga.
“If a community member who went to hunt failed to return, mabtad is used to call the people to look for the missing person. The same when someone is allegedly taken by their enemy tribe, the able-bodied men in the community are called to conduct war with their enemy,” he explained in Ilocano.
Mabtad is characterized by sadness. Hence in the gathering, gongs, which reflect happiness, are not used. Instead, people used kalasag (shields), pakipak (bamboo instruments), and gayang (spear) in producing sounds, Longan pointed out.
Mabtad is being adopted in the case of James Balao, whose mother hails from Mountain Province, he said. It is not only in the case of Balao, a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), that mabtad was used.
Earlier in October 1987, Ama Daniel Ngayaan, of Tanglag was abducted by members of the late Conrado Balweg’s Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), a para-military group, at the Cagaluan Gate in Lubuagan, related Ama Longan.
Ngayaan’s tribe mates, members of the peace pact holders’ organization Cordillera Bodong Association (CBA), and the CPA were called for a mabtad, to look for Ngayaan, then CBA chairman and CPA vice-chairperson.