Kalinga
Records of a journey in 1990
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It seems that Lubo v’s Tulgeo is an old rivalry.  After breakfast Jerome fetched a mengor, Benito Tongdo, who earned his tattoo in a war between Lubo and Tulgeo that took place around 1937. This seems to have been one of the last old-style conflicts, before the 2nd world war and the arrival of guns, which made mass conflict too deadly. Apparently, three hundred Lubo folk fought a similar number from Tulgeo down on the banks of the Chico river in Tinglayan. Lubo won, apparently. It was like listening to a fan reflecting on an epic football match, back in the days when the still allowed the two-footed tackle.

Click here for transcripts of two interviews describing this war.

Mr Tongdo didn’t kill anyone himself, though was difficult to tell whose spear hit what in the chaos. But, as a participant, he won the right to his tattoo. “Then I killed five Japanese” he added, as an afterthought, while fighting under an American USAFFE commander in 1944 and 1945. This didn’t seem nearly as satisfying as the 1937 war.  

At the end of the story, I asked if he minded being photographed. “No problem, but let me change into my g-string, so that you can see the original Kalinga costume”.

Dressing up for the camera leaves me with mixed feelings.  ‘Not real’ says one voice, ‘fit only for travel brochures’. On the other hand, ‘everyone loves a native warrior’. But this is clearly just me. Mr Tongdo didn’t have a problem. For him, dressing up was a statement of pride in his history and culture. It’s a shame that not everyone shares this. ‘Oh, sir’ said my guest house manager, when I said I was going to Kalinga ‘But why? They are not yet civilised’.

The afternoon turned into a recording session and booze up.  Most people here never heard their own voice before, so my rather cheap and tinny little tape recorder became a major attraction. A group of women arrived to sing a Soa-Soa-ay. Juan Alicmas and Mr Tongdo chanted their Palpaliwats. And the recorder spent an awful lot of time in ‘replay’ mode. I should have brought more batteries.

Click here for the Sao-Sao-ay.

Mr Benito Tongdo



 Mr Tongdo's house in Lubo

10th June – Mr Dulagan, the School Principal, arrived this morning, to pick up enrolment lists and visit his family. He is something of a bodong sceptic. He’s particularly concerned about the wisdom of everyone being held responsible for everyone else’s behaviour. He was interesting about how the bodong applied to the military and NPA (New Peoples’ Army) though.

In essence, they are not covered by the bodong when acting on orders, but anything they do while ‘on vacation’ is covered, and could break of a pact. Sensibly, the local villages have codes of conduct with both the military and NPA, ‘no fighting inside the barrio’ being first and foremost. It’s also pretty well understood that if someone from either side is at home in their village when the other side comes looking for him or her (which in theory they shouldn’t) then of course he or she will be hidden by their relatives.  The other side shouldn’t try to dig them out and probably recognise that trying to do so might only lose them favour anyway.

The military and the NPAs’ habit of expecting to be fed in the villages was also identified as an issue, because by feeding someone, they become your brother and in theory you ought to put your life on the line to protect them while they are in your territory. This custom is still very much alive. If you’re not travelling with someone who is from that place, the first thing you do on arriving in a new village is go to your contact’s house, stand at the foot of the ladder and ask for a glass of water.  I guess it’s bad news if they refuse to give you one. That’s never happened to me, though a couple of times, even with all the right introductions, I did have to do a fair amount explaining about who I was, where I’d been, who I’d visited etc before being let in.


An interesting example of the sanctity of the barrio was a case in 1975 when the 80th Division from Isabella was stationed in Lubo. One day a party was held outside the church, which was where the army was staying. The party was also attended by the NPA and was apparently completely peaceful, with the two sides dancing, eating and drinking together, even though they might be trying to kill each other a week later.

Previously, Teresa said something very similar - that NPAs would sometimes visit home in the presence of CAFGUs, but might have to watch out outside the barrio. Mr Dulagan lamented that these codes were not always respected, as they were in his youth.

Bonifacio is proving amazingly helpful. He's almost more into the idea of getting Lubo history and culture down on film and tape than me. After breakfast, he went off to fetch one Lakay Dilag, a man with an amazing eagle tattoo on his chest. He arrived dressed in his G-string carrying a shield and spear. He was also wearing a pair of very smart white Nike trainers. I rather liked that.

In the afternoon he introduced me to Mr Awingan, who explained how he came to be the peace pact holder with Posway. He also told fabulous story about how Lubo got it's name. This featured Sibjacao, the famous headhunter whose house full of rotten human chins stank so much it repulsed even his neighbours, and drowned as the result of his pride and the doings of a magical dog. Very cool.

Mr Awingan's story of how Lubo came to named can be downloaded here.

Mr Awingan's account of his responsibilities as peace pact holder can be downloaded here.

The stone clad streets of Lubo

Mr Lakay Dilag

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