Kalinga
Records of a journey in 1990
Journey 1 - Gang-gang's Palpaliwat
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This is the story of a five day trip to record the Palpaliwat, a chanted boast, of a Kalinga warrior called Gang-gang. In it he recalls his bravery and his deeds in tribal war and the war he and the fellow Kalingas waged against the Government when it planned to the Chico valley and flood part of his ancestral homeland.
16th July 1990
 
Manila to Bontoc was 18 hours by bus this time, with a 5 hour stop in Baguio. To make the Tinglayan - Lubuagan peace pact party there was time for a Coke and bag of nachos in Bontoc before jumping on the first jeepney up the Chico. Now of course the peace pact warming has been postponed. No-one seems to know why. It was probably silly to have thought that peace pact parties have tightly scheduled start dates anyway. 
The weather has improved considerably and the Chico is ablaze with sunshine. The landslides on the road up the river have at been cleared at least, so it was a straight, if painfully slow run – overloading being the problem, as usual. Being young and male the conductor pointed to the roof where I and a dozen other men perched on the baggage and swayed and sweated as we bounced. The driver, sympathetic to his roof-jockeys, crawled along. 

I do love this stretch of road – the terraces and mountains; the views down to Bugnay nestled by the river; anticipating the first sight of the sleeping beauty mountain and arrival in Tinglayan.
  
 
One of the Chico jeepneys
Manuel, one the main ‘Leiutenants’ in the Butbut dope trade was also up on the roof, heading home to Butbut, following a trip to Baguio. The Leiutentants tended to wear khaki and had watches in a land were no-one worried about time. They drank instant coffee and had a boogie box. I told him I wanted to go to Nasablutan and record Gang-gang’s Palpaliwat. He thought this reasonable and encouraged me to spend more time in ButBut. It was all very reassuring.

Chupper was on his porch when I got to Luplupa, entertaining two development workers, Randy and Victor, who had come to assess an irrigation project he was promoting. We discussed their work - setting up co-operatives, teaching book-keeping, accountability and so on.
 
At one point, following a story about an impressive funeral involving the consumption of countless pigs and carabao, Randy asked if I thought Kalinga customs ever impeded their development. I asked him what he meant. Apparently feasting regularly kills livestock programmes, literally. Nowadays people have to sign agreements before the animals arrive promising that they won’t eat breeding stock.
 

Chupper's neighbour in Luplupa, Tinglayan
Chupper took this in and countered with a story of his own about the importance of observing the customs during rice planting. In every village there is someone, often an old woman, responsible for reading the song of the Ichao bird and deciding when planting should begin. I’d imagined this to be a mystical job, but in Chupper’s story it was largely about observing the weather, the season and birds and generally being a seasoned farmer. It’s also time the rest. The village watches and waits, spending time at home with the family before the work begins. 

On the first day she old lady plants alone. On the second she’s joined by the original families of ‘that place’ and, on the third, by the families in which one parent is an ‘outsider’. The spirits are very active during this time. Visitors are banned, which according to Moses was why we had to skirt around the Butbut proper during our trip there last month. And, if you break the rule, planting out of turn, your chances of a miserable harvest or greater misfortune are high. Obey them and the harvest would be good. Chupper had observed this over the years.

The message was pretty clear - “don’t your knock our Kalinga customs” - though Chupper was much too polite to say that directly.   He did however concede one thing. Once, the grandson of the old woman who plants first died on the day planting began. This was a terrible omen. A ten day delay in planting was ordered. Everyone had to wait. And the delay had a terrible effect on the eventual harvest.
16th July - Tinglayan to Butbut
17th - 18th - Saklit & Lecong
19th - 20th - Nasablutan
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