Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I will always remember those cold mornings around the hearth, drinking a hot cup of coffee while the firewood crackled happily. Christmas mornings were always cold then. I was 10 years old then and life was going good for me.

After the morning ritual, I and my friends would run off to the woods and prepare our caroling ensembles. We would arm ourselves with bamboo flutes, a bamboo treble, and a drum made up of the carabao’s hide.

In the evenings, we would go from house to house singing our disjointed Christmas songs.”

Merry Christmas to you all.
Merry Christmas to you all.
Dong-dong ay si dong-ilay, Insinali –dumma-ay.

We went all night long doing the rounds of all the houses. There were, more or less, 300 households in that small village, and we visited them all!

The folks were very generous to us. We would go home with our arms full of fruits, candies, rice cakes, sugar cane, and yes, even coffee and mongo beans. It was very rare that a house would not give anything. But there were funny instances when we sang a naughty lyric to those very few who were lazy to get up, and then we would run as fast as our small feet could carry us.
I still laugh when I remember a friend who got drenched by cold water because he poked a sleeping old man with a stick, in between the bamboo floor slits. Lol… I know now, it was not really funny, but at that time, the audacity of the young in us, was given free reign.

Some folks became extra generous when they see me with the other kids “Sa anak mistala anna,” (She’s the teacher’s daughter.) My mother was the only female teacher and they respect her a lot.

There were adult choirs who sang the Christmas songs beautifully molded into the native tongue, and those musical instruments were totally a blast. I have never heard, since then, something even closely resembling them. It was like music coming from the heavens.

Taddoks (Kalinga dance) are also conducted in the school's plaza where food, wine and celebrations went on until the wee hours of dawn, in the blazing illumination of a bonfire.

From my Kalinga folks and me, I greet you, “Mambayo eh tawon yo adte 2009!” (May you have a prosperous year this 2009!)

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