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January 06, 2011

DR. JESUS T. PERALTA

Desperate for rain in the Mountain Province, the Bontoc traditionally perform the extended ritual, manerwap.

In the evening, men with spears, head axes, and shields from an ato (male dormitory) ascend to a clearing in Mount Kalawitan to keep a fire and watch for the spirit of the ancestors. A young man carries a chick in small basket, and the chick is made to chirp all the way to call the attention of the anitos. Upon reaching the clearing, they stop to beat their shields and dance. Others start a fire, which is kept burning through the night. An old man chants the prayers (kapya) pleading for rain.

The next morning, they return to the village. They are met by a group bearing food. On the same night, they begin dancing and playing gongs. The next day, they go to the river to wash and play the gongs. They bring a chicken to Papat-ay, a sacred place.

If, during the offering, a hawk does not appear, they go back to the ato to sacrifice another pig. A house is selected for the offering of pig, asking Lumawig (the supreme deity) to send rain. The next day, a chicken is offered for the same purpose. In the evening, they have the playing of gongs the whole night.

If it still does not rain, the elders gather in the ato and five pigs are sacrificed. A house is selected where a canao (ritual feast) will be held. On the same day, there will be a tengao—a rest day. The women go bearing gifts of tobacco leaves to all men in the different atos. If still the rains do not come, they conduct a group prayer, begging rain from Lumawig. If there is still no rain, they hold a tengao and perform the layaw—beating each other violently so that Lumawig will see their desperate situation and give them rain. If still there is no rain, then they have a long tengao. Usually, at the end of this, the rains will fall.

Read more on the Bontoc.