Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 17      June 5 - 11, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Cordillera’s Woman Peace Pact Holder

Nanang (mother) Irene Baawa, 64, not only makes a mean native coffee but also serves as the de facto peace pact holder of an Abra tribe.

Arthur L. Allad-iw
Northern Dispatch

Posted by Bulatlat

Malibcong, Abra -- Nanang (mother) Irene Baawa, 64, wakes up early in the morning. She boils native coffee in their dalikan (native stove). The aroma of the coffee fills the air, helping set one’s mood for the day.

The native coffee in the upland Bangilo district of this town is among its notable products. Doing away with sugar and coffee creamer would make one appreciate its native taste. For some, it is almost addictive.

Buanao is one of the three villages of Bangilo. It has at least 70 households with a population of no less than 300 persons. It can be reached through a six-hour jeepney ride along rugged mountain roads. Indigenous socio-political systems are well and alive in Buanao. Among its existing systems is the bodong or peace pact.

“We have in fact at least 27 bodong by Buanao with nearby tribes,” claims Nanang Irene.      

Woman peace pact holder

Nanang Irene’s husband is Lakay (elder) Emeterio Baawa, 73. Husband and wife have four children – three boys and a girl – who are all married now, including the daughter who is married to a foreigner in the Middle East.

Lakay Baawa’s hearing is impaired, explained Nanang Irene. This makes the husband shy in joining discussions with their visitors like the reporters that the community hosted during the Cordillera Day celebration last April.

Because of Lakay Baawa’s limitations, his role as a peace pact holder is sometimes carried out by Nanang Irene. She says the peace pact is not only focused on men, who traditionally serve as peace pact holders, but to the entire family, especially the spouses. Thus, she said, women need to take on such bigger roles to maintain and strengthen their bodong. 

Bodong with a Kalinga tribe

Nanang Irene said that the Buanaos’ peace pact with the Butbut tribe of Kalinga started sometime after World War II. It was, however, in 1957 that Lakay Baawa’s father performed the galigad, a process of transferring the bodong to Lakay Baawa. Galigad is traditionally performed when the peace pact holder dies or is unable to perform his functions as such.

Since the 1957 galigad, the Butbut-Buanao bodong has never been severed. To strengthen and keep it active, Buanao villagers celebrated a dolnat (literally to warm up) to renew their bodong, said Nanang Irene.

She remembers that in February 1998, another galigad took place, this time in the Butbut tribe.

Malindo Daligdig, the counterpart of Lakay Baawa from the Butbut tribe, transferred the peace pact to a family member. The event happened in Anonang, Tabuk, Kalinga where some of the Butbut tribe members have settled.

“It shows that the bodong covers every member of the tribe, from those in their ancestral homeland to those outside, wherever they are,” said Nanang Irene.

Bodong’s strength

During the journalists’ second night at Nanang Irene’s home, they witnessed how strong the bodong was with the Butbut tribe. Delegates from the Butbut tribe came to her house, after she invited them and offered the comforts of her house.

Once your kabodong is in your territory, Nanang Irene said, they are accorded protection. If anything happens to them, it is the responsibility of the host community.

Before departing from the area, Lakay Banag Sinumlag of the Butbut tribe based in Tabuk bade Nanang Irene goodbye as their kabodong.

The entire incident illustrated the dynamics of the bodong system, proving that it is a practice that endures, more effective and dominant than the local governance system.

It was also instructive with regards the role of women in this system, especially the wife of a peace pact holder who acts as the de facto peace pact holder. Nanang Irene would always be remembered, both for her native coffee and role as a peace pact holder. Nordis / Posted by Bulatlat




© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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