Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Kalingas' (Head Hunters)

By: Evelyn Trinidad

Kalinga pronounced as kalingga means headhunters. The people of Kalinga are referred to as Ikalinga (meaning, from Kalinga.) The Kalingas are composed of the Tinglayans, the Lubuagans, the Tanudans, the Pasils, the Balbalans, the Pinukpuks, and the Tabuks. All of the people from these places are called Kalingas or ikalinga. They have a distinct culture and body features that are noticeably different from the other tribes of the Cordilleras.

In the olden times, headhunting (kayaw) is a way of life. Tribal war then, was the way to survive. It was tribe against another tribe. The rule then was survival of the fittest tribe. The tribal wars are triggered by almost anything that a certain tribe believes was an affront against his tribe or his culture from the mundane to the most serious errors.

Every tribe has its own sets of leaders (pangats) and brave warriors or head hunters (maingor) that led the tribe into war when needed.

The Kalinga peace pact (bodong) groups are classified according to their ili, or tribes or sub-tribes. The bodong was conceptualized as a means of institutionalizing some basic peace process between tribes. A bodong is established between tribes through the selection of bodong holders from among the leaders (pangats) of each tribe.

The selection is done by each tribe, provided the pangat is willing to be a bodong holder. When holders from each tribe have been identified, the holders will meet to set the time, date, the pledges of each holder for the expenses to be incurred during the rites and venue of the finalization of the bodong.

The sealing of the bodong is done through a ritual where carabaos and pigs are butchered as offering. The bodong serves as a court to amicably settle differences between tribes when crime against a tribe is committed by another tribe for which a peace pact was made. If a tribe was affronted by another tribe in which there was no peace pact forged, then a tribal war may ensue.

That is the time the head hunting is practiced. Head hunting is a noble thing to do and it signifies bravery (ingor). The victory of a tribe during a tribal war is the head of an enemy. Bringing home a head is noble and a symbol of bravery.

The men are expected to become maingors and accepted as belonging to the warrior class that is respected and revered. Being part of the kayaw (headhunting) is a man’s ticket for an opportunity to get the woman of his choice as a wife.

Although ikalingas are known to be head hunters, they are actually peace loving people. They are lovers of merriment and they display all their songs during rituals and rites such as weddings and deaths. They use these songs to express their emotions, such as the salidummay, the dong-dong-ay, the oggayam, the ading, the wasani, the paliwat, the owawi, dandanag and ullalim.

The people of the province of Kalinga are warm and hospitable. They also pride themselves with the many natural beauty spots found in the locality. If you want to experience their warmth and hospitality, visit Kalinga via Tuguegarao, Cagayan or via Bontoc, Mt. Province.

The first place you will reach if you go via Bontoc is Tinglayan, the home of the “sleeping beauty”. If you take the Tuguegarao route, you touch base first with the City of Tabuk.

N.B. Nowadays, headhunting is no longer a common practice in Kalinga. But tribal wars still exist in some parts of the province, and "bodongs" or peace pacts are still observed.

You can read a personal experience of Headhunting here.

For more about (bodong) Peace Pact read the Bodong Experience.

Evelyn Trinidad is connected to the DILG, Baguio as its City Director.

Evie, as friends call her, is a genuine peacemaker, being a bodong holder and an active participant in the development of the countryside and the City of Baguio.

She continues to pursue her vision of peace and devel0pment for the minority people of the Mountain Provinces.

You can read more about "Local Governance and Administration" in her blog.

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