Saturday, April 26, 2008


These are some old Taloctoc traditions: ( some are still practised, some are not anymore)

1. The first thing that you do when you enter a house is to ask for water.
This indicates that you are extending the hands of friendship. You will know
if you are a welcome guest if the host gives you the drink; implying that he is
accepting your offer of friendship.

2. When you are offered food, accept it; not accepting it, is tantamount to
saying - " You are the enemy."

3. Whenever you visit a certain village, go first and see their elders,
or barrio captain. It is a gesture of respect. It also ensures that as long as
they know you are there, no one can harm you and that you are under their

4. Mingle with everyone, even if you hardly know them. Be friendly.
Remember, you are in their territory.

5. Do not leave when the table has been set. It amounts to rudeness.

There are still several old traditions and I will be posting them soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Some Kalinga recipes:

The Kalinga rice:

2 cups Rice
shrimps or fish

Wrap the rice with the banana leaves just enough to fit the bamboo container.
Put 3/4th cup of water.
Put the shrimp on top of the rice.
Cook over low fire.

You would be surprise how palatable food tastes without any condiments.
It brings out the natural taste of rice and shrimp.
Try it.

Image from: 1 Free Clip Art

There is one dish from Kalinga that I find also delicious , it is called "Gaddiw".

Two pinches of salt is mixed with the fish.
Wrap it with banana leaves.
Place this inside a bamboo tube.
No water is added. (just the water remaining after the fish is washed)
Cook over low fire.

This maybe eaten with rice and tomatoes.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Dong dong ay si dumma -ay
Insinali dumma-ay
Dong ay, si dong ilay
Insanali dumma ay

Intako mansasakdo (let's fetch water)
Intako mansasakdo
Dong, dong ay si dong ilay
Insinali dumma-ay

amman tako annosan, (let's be patient)
amman tako annosan,
dong dong ay si dong ila-ay
insinali dumma-ay.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


BY: MANOLO BALLUG as passed on by the elders.

In those days, tribes were not in good terms with each other. Tribal wars were common.

There was a man in Tinglayan called Banna , who had extraordinary bravery and strength. He had an unusual charm so people look up to him for leadership. He was also a very good "ullalim" singer.

One day Banna realized that he needed a life time partner , someone to share his life with, so he went in search for a wife. Since there were no eligible women in his barrio he decided to ascend Mount Patukan, a mountain east of Tinglayan and go to the sitio of Dacalan, Tanudan.

While it was still daylight, he stopped and rested under a big tree at a distance away from the village so that no one could see him. This is because he might provoke trouble by his presence.

When night came, Banna slowly went down nearer to the village and searched for a place to observe. After some time, he heard a soft, melodious female voice singing the ullalim. He was drawn to the voice and moved closer to the hut. Peeping, he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever set eyes on. Long, wavy hair, dark, fringed eyes, and a voice that grew sweeter and sweeter as he drew closer to the hut.
Banna was mesmerized...captivated by the lyrical voice. The leaves of the trees around him seemed to be dancing in unison with the woman's ululations.

He knew it was extremely dangerous for him to reveal himself inside the village territory, but his burning desire to meet the woman, was stronger than his sense of survival.

He knocked boldly at the "sawali" ( bamboo made) walls of the hut.

" Anna tago," ( Someone's here.)

" Umma sanat?" (Who is it?), the singing stopped, but the spoken words were the most appealing sound Banna had ever heard.

" This is Banna" from Tinglayan.

He heard hurried movements from the house, then a male voice spoke harshly, " What do you need?"

The natives were very protective of their women and properties, and Banna knew that he could get killed by his boldness.

" I don't mean any harm, I come in peace. I would like to meet the woman who sings the ullalim with passion."

The family was so nervous of letting a stranger in the house and had urged him to go home instead. But Banna was persistent and had refused to go.

Dongdongan - the father of the woman - slowly opened the door and saw a young, handsome man standing like a sentinel at the door. He repeated his plea for Banna to leave but the stance of the Banna indicated, he would not be budged from where he stood. So, he reluctantly let him in.

"I am Banna from Tinglayan"

Once inside the house, as dictated by tradition, Dongdongan handed Banna a bowl of water. It was an old tradition that once a stranger is accepted into a house, it is also understood that he will be protected and kept safe by the host family. As a symbol of this unwritten agreement, the stranger would be given a drink of water. This is called "paniyao". If a stranger is not given one, then it denotes an existing hostility which may result to a deadly fight if the stranger does not leave immediately.

The second phase of the ritual continued. Dongdongan offered Banna the "buyo" - a bland, powder which when chewed with certain leaves would produce a red tinged saliva. This concoction is called "moma".

Ullalim was the official means of communication then so they sang as they talked. Banna too had a strong, masculine voice and it was apparent he could sing well.

In his ullalim Banna revealed his search for a wife. Dongdongan introduced him to her daughter, Edonsan, who readily accepted Banna's handshake.

Banna, then and there proposed to Edonsan. Edonsan in turn, accepted the proposal and there was a flurry of activity, as all the village folk were invited to a meeting and then a "canao" ( festivities with dancing and singing). Banna and Edonsan dance the "salidsid" (courtship dance) to the tempo of the gongs, while the community participated in the "tadok" (dance for all). The celebration lasted the whole day, with everyone in the village participating. No one had gone to the fields and to the kaingin as people usually did. The village people were the witnesses to the exchange of vows between the two. There were no officiating priests or Judges, no official documents to sign, but the vows were always kept and were considered sacred by everyone in the village.

Tradition also dictated that Banna had to stay with Edonsan's family for 7 days to prove his sincerity and purity of intention. Banna and Edonsan had their honeymoon along the slope of the Patokan mountain picking guavas and wild strawberries, making love and dropping by the river to catch fish for supper.

In the evening of each day for the seven days that Banna was there, Edonsan took Banna to each of her relative's house. It is considered good luck to do so, as it is believed that the blessings and approval of relatives are vital to the happiness of the couple.

At the end of the 7th day, the couple prepared to leave for Banna's village where they will establish residence. The parents of Edonsan and the village people prepared native cakes and tobacco as gifts for the departure of the newly married couple.

As dawn broke, the village people came together to see them off. The two left happily, with their hands entwined against each other. The trail was adorned with guavas and strawberries and they had a handful as they trek towards the summit of Patokan. It took them 8 arduous hours to get to the top.

As soon as they reached the top, they heard unusual noises coming from Banna's village which was a few miles below them.

Banna had a premonition that it was something dangerous so he instructed Edonsan to stay put and wait for him. He was going down to his village to investigate the cause of the ruckus.

Banna ran all the way down to the village. As soon as he was seen by the village people, a cheer reverberated in the air. He was informed hastily that their village was under siege and that his leadership was needed to drive the trespassers away.

The bloody, face to face encounter of the two warring tribes went on for hours, spears and bolos clashed against each other as more bodies piled up in between the cluster of the nipa huts. The great number of the invading tribe slowly weakened Banna's men. One by one they fell, bloodied, to the ground. He could not possibly go back to Edonsan, Banna thought. He would fight up to his very last breath - but he had to make sure Edonsan does not come down to the village.

Hastily, he instructed one of his men to warn Edonsan, but the man never made it far. He and Banna were simultaneously wounded and fell bleeding to the ground. Banna died with his spear in his hand and his last vision was the face of Edonsan .

Edonsan, on the other hand,waited and waited...and waited. But there was no Banna to take her home. She was weak from weariness and heartache. She had no desire to live without her Banna.

When it was evident, Banna was not coming for her, she slowly crumpled to the grassy- matted forest and wept uncontrollably. Tears flowed down from her cheeks as she grew weaker and weaker and the tears flowed more and more copiously.

Night came and Banna had not returned yet..and Edonsan had grown weak with grief and fatigue, her breath slowly coming out in gasps... until she closed her eyes and breathed her last.

On the spot where her body was laid to rest, sprang two waterfalls which is believed to be the tears of Edonsan.

In Tinglayan, one can clearly see from a distance, the beautifully, shaped body of a reclining woman.

And that is the legend of "The Sleeping Beauty" folks, as handed down orally, from one generation to another.

As the story is passed on, additions and omissions are done by each set of generation. What is important is that the undying love of Banna and Edonsan will always be remembered by the people of Kalinga.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The Taloctoc dialect has a certain accent that is specific for only Taloctoc natives. The letter "T" is most often pronounced as "K"; the letter "D" is most often pronounced as a cross between "T" and "D" (a heavy "TH" sound).

English TO Taloctoc

1. What is your name? Umma ngadan no?
2. Where do you live? Umma ili yo?
3. Please come here. Umali kaod atna.
4. I love you. Laydok sika
5. Where are you going? Umma ayam?
6. Look at this! Ilam kad de anna.
7. Go ahead! Ingkayon ot.
8. What do you see? Umma ma-ilam?
9. You lied! nantul-li ka.
10. You are beautiful. Mambalo(l here is pronounced as y)ka.
11. Why have you done this to me? Pamman kingwa kansakon de katnat?
12. Take care. Ammam pay.
13. Where are you right now? Umma igom sinsana?
14. Wait, please. Unniyan ot.
15. I hope you are doing well. Mambalo ka ot yan.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I grew up in the hinterlands of Taloctoc, Kalinga Apayao. I stayed in Baguio City till I was 6 years old and then went home with my family to the province to continue schooling, as my paternal grandfather was from there. Taloctoc was a paradise to me then because it was far from the deafening honks of gas- emitting vehicles and away from the barrage of audio “machines”. It was a 2- hour hike (if you are a seasoned hiker) from Lubuagan, the town proper but a 5 – hour hike for me, because I was not used to the hard mountainous trek. I used to take a refreshing dip in the clear cascading waters, basked in the peacefulness of the place and then while my time away picking the juiciest guavas in the riverbank, before I finally went home.
( Nowadays, however; a narrow road was constructed to connect it with the next municipality which is Pasil.)

The barrio lies snugly between a river that had snaked its way at the edge of the barrio and the towering mountains that stood like sentinels all around it. It was a very small barrio consisting of more or less 200 families only. Undiscovered terrain was everywhere and together with this, strange things happen that science could not explain. I grew up hearing about fire –birds sitting atop a soon to be dead person, people getting lost and coming back weeks later with strange tales of another world, of another dimension. My father himself told us about how he went in circles in the woods and could only find his way home when he performed certain rituals that the old folk usually did when they were in the same predicament. I, myself saw mist turn into strange shadows and disappeared before my very eyes. These memories were relegated to the background however, as I returned to Baguio for my college education. They became dreamlike and unreal as I embraced city life and concluded that what is real must be logically explained .

After college, I started working here in Angeles City and forgot all about those “strange experiences. One day, however, we were invited to the wedding of my younger brother- Benny - and I was eager to attend as I have not seen my 8 siblings for a long time.

Of course, the relatives and native folk from Taloctoc were invited; we try our best to look back to our roots. The wedding ceremony was native inspired also. There were “gangsa” (gongs) , “Tadok” (native dancing) and “Ullalim” and “salidummay” ( native songs) . The young and old alike “gonged” and “salidsided”. It seems the whole barrio was there. I was bustling from one place to another like a waitress, serving food and wine as we were short of manpower. My grandmother was there too (God bless her soul, now) and she approached and whispered to me: “ Nuw, awad da Lubay, inka kanida ta maila daka” ( Lubay and company are here, go and greet them hello). Lubay was one of the old folk who they believed had paranormal powers. She possessed a “patao” ( a small wooden, carved image of a man’s face and chest, about 5 inches long and 1 inch wide). Those who owned “pataos” were feared as they were believed to have supernatural powers.
“Lola, I will deliver these drinks first. I will do that later, “ I reassured her.
“ Inka ot, te unikad mapatao ka.” (Go and greet them first, or they will feel bad about it.) she said worried..
“Lola, don’t worry, I will, “ and I went on, thinking they will understand as they can see the number of people waiting to be served , at least they had food already.

Just as soon as I turned my back, I heard the voice of Lubay , “ Sa anak pay cion anaya? Ot ipon umali sina?” (This is Cion’s daughter isn’t she? Why does she not acknowledge us?) . Just as soon as she said this, a strange feeling crept over me. A heavy, eerie feeling of unease. Then my knees buckled and my breathing had begun to go shallow. I felt nauseated and I started to sweat profusely. I wanted to lay down badly. I hurried to my sister’s room and went straight to the bed.
My grandmother noticed my absence and looked for me. “What happened to you?” she asked worried; as I was tossing and turning in bed, apparently ill.
“I don’t feel well, “ I croaked.
“ I told you,” she said accusingly, “I told you to talk to them.”
In spite of my condition, I smiled, “Really , Lola, how could you believe all those superstitious beliefs”.
She hurriedly went outside and came back with Lubay. There were several people now gawking over me. They all have worried faces, as I grew weaker and weaker. I was so weak to protest as Lubay told me to keep still.
“ Inkayon eh anito, Ikkayon adte igow yo. “ (“You - bad spirits, leave this girl alone, go back to where you came from.) She kept murmuring this over and over and some gobbledygook I did not understand, as she blew her tobacco smoke starting from my head down to my toes.
As she was doing this, I was saying to myself : “My God, how could I allow myself to undergo this. This is ridiculous!”
But while the ritual was going on, I began to feel better. Just as she blew at the last of my toes, ALL the unpleasant feelings disappeared like magic. I am not exaggerating this. The “sickness” just disappeared like I never felt them. In fact, I stood up immediately – without a trace of any of the earlier symptoms. My siblings were relieved as they went back to their merry-making. The old folk had little reaction as they expected that to happen. I - in turn - was incredulous, not yet believing that they were gone in a flash. How could that be? I did not even believe in all that nonsense and yet - I was “cured”.

From then on, I tried not to be cynical of any paranormal experience that I read and hear. I had kept an open mind and accepted the fact that there are indeed paranormal occurrences around us; that it is an area that could be explored and discovered. Until now, I still cannot fully explain what had happened to me on
that day. Perhaps I will have the answers later on in this lifetime.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I can still remember my grandmother - Lola Carmen. She was a soft-spoken lady with quiet and simple ways. She would say : " Tottowa ampay" ( that's true) when in agreement with what was said. She had a smile that could wipe away one's weariness when coming home. Her touch was a balm to tired muscles and spirits. Her words of wisdom had always remained in my heart - " strive to be good, always." We love her.

I will always remember Lola Carmen. God bless her soul!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


When I was a kid, I remember often wandering in and out of my playmates unlocked houses. Yes, nobody locked their houses those days. Personal things would be inadvertently left anywhere and they would always be returned to their rightful owners. Nobody took what was not theirs. This unwritten law was respected by everyone.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


I remember my great grandfather singing the ullalim whenever we were seated around the hearth during evenings. He would chew his "moma" (beetle nut concoction) and belt out his song about the great warriors of the past, about legends and many more. I did not understand then his ullalim because he focuses on one word and let it roll so long in his tongue, like he was savoring every letter of the word; one word kept him 30 seconds to maintain it in his vocal chords. ...."kanang kano de ullalim eh....." A good "singer" is usually one who can shift from high pitch to low pitch with the corresponding great sounding ululations and tremor. The ullalim is similar to a ballad, and is also sang with great emotion and candor. It is a custom worth saving.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Not very original title, but well, that is what I think about my childhood village - Taloctoc. It is a slice of heaven here on earth. If you have read the place Shangri-La described by John Hilton in his novel Lost Horizon; Taloctoc is one such place; clean, refreshing air, verdant mountains, rippling clear waters and peaceful surroundings; away from the pollution and din of city life. This is the place I wish I could live in right now.

This is the crystal clear waters of a beach in Mexico. The Taloctoc riverbank is also as clean as this one. Someday, I hope to go back there and bathe in my birthday suit ...(grin) and get some pictures too. I hope it is still unaffected by what we call "progress."

Image from: