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January 24, 2007


Background of the Ritual

            The tungo ritual is a ceremony performed by the people of Bantey, Batayan and Masla to invite the rain to come and for the Council of elders to pray to Kabunyan for an abundant harvest.

The background of the ritual started after the stone in Ga-o was supposedly erected and left by Lumawig. This stone has withstood the strong winds and strong water during typhoons. It never shifted from its place. Even if there were landslides, the stone remained where it was. The people of Bantey and Sumadel had been trying to remove the stone, but, they could not remove it. That was why the Council of Elders  in Sumadel and Bantey treated the stone as sacred, while the
A-amam-a of Masla revered it asKabunyan or God.

As a result, the A-amam-a of Masla and Sumadel, started performing the tungoritual of offering sacrifices in the stone at Ga-o. This started in 1967 at Masla, Tadian, Mountain Province because before 1954, the people of Sumadel, Bantey and Masla had an abundant harvest. They butchered a rooster and cooked it with etag (salted meat) and bathed the stone. They performed this ritual to invite the rain during dry season. The prayers were offered to Kabunyan to bring rain. After the performance of the rituals, the performers were blessed with rain and went home wet.

When the 2nd World War broke out, the late Rev. Edward Longid and some evacuees went to Sumadel. One Sunday after the service, there was a discussion as regards the stone in Ga-o, about which men from Sumadel, Bantey and Masla had been trying to remove the stone but no one succeeded. This was why men from neighboring barangays such as Masla, Bantey and Sumadel had to go and offer sacrifices to this stone. Fr. Longid argued that the offering of sacrifices to the stone is a pagan practice so that he had to do something. It is against Christianity, which he was preaching. In the course of their discussion, they arrived at an agreement to have a wager. The wager was to see if Fr. Longid could topple down the stone.

            The Rev. Edward Longid then called Lakay Madalang, and one old man to accompany him to Ga-o. When Fr. Longid, Lakay Madalang, and one old man reached Ga-o, Fr. Longid prayed. After praying, he told Lakay Marcos Madalang to go and remove the stone. It was amazing because the stone was easily removed and toppled down. Lakay Madalang, however, was almost drowned in the water with the stone, but Fr. Longid and company helped him.

After the incident, the people of Sumadel, Bantey and Masla experienced drought and famine. The people believed, it was the stone that caused the famine and drought. One day, a mansip-ok (native priest) by the name of Baket Tagal-e of Masla said that the stone in Ga-o was complaining. The stone had to be brought out into the river because it was getting cold. Because of this, the A-amam-a went to look for the stone and erected it again. It was, however, erected in another site at the side of Sumadel, because the old men could not carry it.

Famine continued until the A-amam-a of Masla said, “Let us perform again the tungo ritual to appeaseKabunyan.” The revival of the performance of the ritual started through the able leadership of Lakay Nato Sicuaten after the 2nd World War until 1986. They had to invite the rain during dry season and to revive the prosperity in Masla. From that time on, every dry season, the A-amam-a of Masla has since been offering sacrifices at the stone in Ga-o.


The Tungo Ritual Proper

            In the performance of the Tungo ritual, a group of chosen men or the A-amam-a are the only ones allowed to participate. These chosen men must either be those without death in the family, a neighbor who had no death in the family, and who did not have their anniversary yet, or has not yet experienced misfortune in their family as such people are considered “unclean.” The presence of these “unclean” men might hinderKabunyan (God) from granting the blessings the A-amam-a were asking. The old men brings with them rice, a native rooster, etag, (salted meat) and rice wine. The etag to be cooked with the chicken must be the preserved meat that was butchered during baptism, weddings or bought. The share of meat from death anniversaries, healing rituals, or butchered meat from a misfortune such as sickness, death, and those related to crimes are not allowed. Before butchering the rooster, the old men pray first.   

According to Lakay Pispisen Guimbawan, the prayer to Kabunyan when they perform the tungo ritual goes this way:

Our Dear great mighty leaders of Mabika, what shall we do? It is now dry season. We do not have water to drink. Let us disturb Kabunyan. Let us offer a chicken to Kabunyan for the rain to come. Alas! The rain came, and now we have to drink. The plants are watered and are robust, and the people have abundant harvest. Let us share this to other people so that they will have water also to drink and have an abundant harvest.

After the prayer, they butcher the rooster. They inspect the bile if it foretells a good omen and only then, would they continue with the ritual.

After the food is cooked, they pray the id-idew. The id-idew is a prayer inviting the rain to come. The prayer, according to Lakay Ngolab, goes this way:


You, Lumawig, ask Kabunyan to send rain because it is dry season. There is no rain to water our plants that is why we do not have food to eat. The plants are dried and not even a single plant could grow.

After the prayer, the old men proceed to eat. After eating, the old men get the rice wine and bathe the stone. After bathing the stone, they go back to Masla and proceed to the dap-ay (political center in the community) to rest before going home and to remind each one of what to do the following day.

The following day is the obaya (community holiday). No one in the community is allowed to go and work in the fields. Everyone stays home. The A-amam-a, on the other hand, gathers in the dap-ay and butchers another rooster. After the rooster is butchered, they again inspect the bile if it is simlit (foretells a good omen) before they continue with the ritual. They have to butcher another rooster until the bile of the butchered animal is favorable. The butchered rooster is then cooked with etag. After the food is cooked, the native priest prays the id-idew, according toLakay Ngolab and Mr. Conrado Pantaleon.

The id-idew prayer, according to Lakay Nngolab (Mr. Conrado Pantaloon), goes this way:

“There was Cabbigat who had a brother by the name of Soyyan. He also had a sister by the name of Ubog. They are orphans and are looked down by the people in the community. When Bauko had its begnas and if Cabbigat and Soyyan were the ones to play the gongs, the gongs had a pleasant sound, and when they danced, the world swayed with the dancers. However, if they distributed the rice wine, the one distributing the rice wine spat on their apag (cup of wine) before giving it to Cabbigat and Soyyan. When they went home, their sister Ubog said, “Why are you drinking the rice wine they were giving you. They spat on it. Soyyan said, “Never mind, we have to drink it to quench our thirst because we are hungry and thirsty. They will be the one to get sick because they were the ones with a dirty mind.” The following morning Ubog, went to the creek and gathered the small sweet potatoes left by those who went to wash sweet potatoes. Ubog brought it home and cooked it for them to eat when they would go and work in the fields. The siblings went to am-o where they saw a nipa hut. They repaired the nipa hut. Because Cabbigat was very tired, he thought of lying down to sleep. While he was lying down he saw an abistong (an indigenous mouth air instrument) at the siklap (space at the roof of the nipa hut). Cabbigat got the abistong and played with it. Lumawig was attracted by the music being played so he went down, stomped his feet and scratched the roof of the hut. Cabbigat said to Soyyan, “Will ÿou go and see who si following us with his cruelty?” Soyyan went out and saw a tiko (small bird) that flew. He said, “This tiko could not have been doing that.” Cabbigat again played with the abistong, and then there was again the stomping and scratching of the roof. So he said again to Soyyan, “Will you go out and see who is stomping and scratching the roof.” Soyyan went out and saw a tala. He said, “This tala bird cannot stomp and scratch that roof. It is very small. Then Cabbigat said to Soyyan, “Will you remove some of the cogon grass of the nipa hut.” Soyyan removed some of the cogon grass of the hut, and when Cabbigat played with his abistong, Lumawig again stomped and scratched the roof of the hut. One of his legs fell through the roof of the hut.

            Soyyan grabbed the sole and said, Cabbigat get your bolo and cut the leg of this fellow who is following us with his hostility.

            Lumawig said, “Do not cut my leg. I will come down to read your palm to find out who you are.”AfterLumawig saw their palms, he said, “You are kind people. Why do the people look down on you. I will bless you with abundance and prosperity. Get this salted meat Cabbigat for you to use in performing rituals so that the people will have abundant harvest. Soyyan, you get this spear to hunt animals so that you will have something to eat when you go home in the afternoon. To you Ubog, you get the rice and salted meat because you were chosen to be the mother of the people in the community.”

            After Lumawig left, they cultivated the farm and planted palay. The palay grew until the palay reached its fruit bearing stage. Cabbigat and Soyyan told their sister Ubog, “You go and drive away the mayas in our farm so that they will not eat the grains of our palay.“ Übog went and Soyyan was the one bringing her food during lunch time. After some weeks, Soyyan noticed that his sister was getting thinner. Soyyan asked Ubog, “Why are you getting thinner. I am bringing food for your lunch. Are you not eating it?” Ubog answered, “I am eating what you are bringing here. I do not know.” Soyyan gave what Ubog ought to eat then pretended to go home but instead, he went to hide. Minutes later, Ubog came out of the hut and threw the food that was brought by Soyyan. Soyyan came out from where he was hiding and asked her sister, “Why are you throwing away the food? This explains why you are thin.

            Ubog said to Soyyan, “You better go home. You get your chicken and butcher it.”
When Soyyan reached home, he got the small chicken and butchered it. Ubog went to the river and swam inside the water. Her brothers were cooking what they have butchered while waiting for Ubog to come out of the water. Ubog came out of the water and was holding a bird. The bird became a person and her name was Conyap. Ubog said, “I got Conyap because what you butchered was a small chicken.”

            After they had eaten, Cabbigat and Soyyan said  to their sister Conyap, “Be the one to see our palay. We will go and look for an omen of good fortune in Bauko.” The brothers, Cabbigat and Soyyan then went to Abatan and saw Conyap at Ngadangad showing them where they should go. They went to Kammanuwang, Asdan, to Padsek Gayang, to Cervantes, to Maggon, to Bessang, until they reached King Pusa, Ilocos Sur with the guidance of Conyap. Conyap had been following Cabbigat and Soyyan wherever they went.

            At King Pusa, the sibling killed a man. They got his head and then shouted for victory. The people at King Pusa ran after Cabbigat and Soyyan. Then the sibling climbed a betel nut tree (moma). They got its fruit and chewed it and then spat on the Ilocano people who were running after them. The people stopped following them. They went down from the tree and started shouting while proceeding towards home. They were shouting victory, victory while heading to Bessang, to Maggon, to Cervantes, to Padsek Gayang, to Asdan, to Kammanuwang, to Ngadangad, and to Abatan. They stopped their giyaw (shouting) at Abatan. They brought the man they killed in the dap-ay of Tabla-an. This commenced the begnas in Tabla-an. They played and beat the gongs. There was merrymaking to celebrate the success of Cabbigat and Soyyan.

            Rice wine was served and Ubog noticed that there was no change on the way the people treated her brothers. They still spat on the cup of wine before giving to his brothers. But the brothers did not mind. They drank it to quenched their thirst. When Soyyan went home in the afternoon, her sister Ubog asked him, “Why are you drinking that cup of wine. They spat on it.” Soyyan answered, “Never mind. Instead give me our follower and guide, Conyap.”Ubog said, “It is at the libeng (top of the eaves of the house).”  Soyyan in anguish laments, “Oh! How cruel those people.” He got the claws of Conyap and said, “Get the prosperity and abundance of Tabla-an.” He also got the skin of conyap and said, “Your skin will be scratched like the skin of this bird because you are traitors.” The siblings went to Am-o then to Malitaw. At Malitaw, they saw a spring water. There was also plenty of food being eaten by the birds. The siblings settled at Malitaw and did the id-idew. They started doing the id-idew in the center of the community. They did it also where the source of water is, at the entrance of the community, and at the outskirts of Masla. All of us from Masla, let us do the id-idew. May all our id-idewbe good so that if the bachelors will go and look for a wife or go and look for a job, they will be blessed and be successful in their economic endeavors because we did the id-idew.

            After the prayer, the A-amam-a in the dap-ay ate. Some of the A-amam-a must stay in the dap-ay and kept watch for any visitor that may come such as birds, or any kind of animal.


Status of the Ritual

            To date, the A-amam-a no longer performs the tungo ritual. Two women in the person of Baket Christina Lumaban and Baket Flaviana Padaen have been going to Ga-o to bathe the stone every dry season or when there is a revelation from the spirits (Mrs. Lumaban is a Mansip-ok – one whom the spirits can reveal what they want). They stopped going to Ga-o in 1998 because they are already old and can no longer walk. Mrs. Padaen, too, died in 2003. Besides, one who goes there has to go up and down the mountain.

Nowadays, the people are questioning the old folks on why it keeps on raining even if no one had been bathing the stone and offering sacrifices. The old folks reply: “It is because the Council of Elders who had been performing the ritual died and had become spirits. These spirits are the ones performing the ritual.”


(*The old folks tell that Fr. Edward Longid fell ill because of the removal of the stone erected by Lumawig. That he only got healed when a group of men from Sagada went to butcher a pig in Ga-o. This is disproved by a statement from Mr. Marcos Madalang, the one who was ordered by Fr. Longid to remove the stone, “Fr. Edward Longid did not get sick and there was no butchering of pig in Ga-o to appease Kabunyan due to the removal of the stone.” At present, the people of Masla and Sumadel buy their rice. The yield from their farm is not enough as before.The people connect this situation to the Stone in Ga-o that was abandoned).

N.B. The author was lucky to have seen the stone and to have interacted with those people who have been bathing the stone and offered sacrifices to it.


Source: Mr. Philip Napaldet Sr., 56 years old, Mr. conrado Pantaleon, 76 years old, Mr. Pispisen Guimbawan, 74 years old, Mr. Patricio Balantin, 81 years old, and Mr. Jacinto Balitog, 71 years old.