Tinguian,” “Tinggianes,” “Tingues,” and “Tingians” all mean “mountain dwellers,” and refer to the people who, to avoid the advancing Christian Ilocano, withdrew into the Abra valley and the nearby highlands. Tinguian is used synonymously with the word “Itneg,” which is derived from “iti uneg,” which literally means “the interior,” or from the combination of the prefix “i-,” which indicates a place of origin, and the name of a major river and geographical area, “Tineg” (Schmitz 1971:20). The Tinguian have always thought of themselves and the other highland dwellers of the Cordillera as Itneg, people of the interior uplands.
There is a tendency, however, to refer to the inhabitants of Abra’s isolated hinterlands as Itneg and to the province’s more acculturated population as Tinguian, especially since the latter are supposedly hardly distinguishable from the lowland Ilocano. Today, there are two identifiable Tinguian groups, namely, the “valley Tinguian” and the “mountain Tinguian.” The first occupy the village communities where there are also Ilocano settlers, while the second are distributed in sparsely populated areas in the highland country of northern and eastern Abra.
The ancestral domain of the Tinguian covers a mountainous region which has four valleys and four river systems joining up with the Abra River, which empties into the China Sea. Tinguian territory is bounded on the north by Ilocos Norte, on the west by Ilocos Sur, on the south by Bangued, and on the east by Kalinga-Apayao. The Tinguian are found mainly in the towns of Tubo, San Quintin, Luba, and Buliney in Abra (Peralta 1988:13). They number around 57,000. History One theory has it that the Tinguian were originally found along the coastal areas, and are the predecessors of the precolonial Ilocano. These people would later move into what is now the province of Abra, where they intermarried with the older population. The descendants of this union are the present-day Tinguian.
Others, however, went further upland towards the east, northeast, south, and southeast, following the many branches of the Abra River. The group that trekked to the northeast, along the river called Tineg, encountered Aeta who inhabited the region called Apayao. Those who intermarried with these Aeta came to be called Isneg, an ethnolinguistic group which now populates the western and northern parts of the present Kalinga-Apayao. The pure Aeta group may be found in the Apayao region. Past and recent studies have maintained that a close affinity exists between the Itneg and the Ilocano, and whatever difference exists as a result of acculturation (mainly through Christianization) have remained superficial. Both groups share common characteristics in terms of language, cultural traits, and physical characteristics. In fact, according to the American anthropologist,
Fay Cooper Cole, there are very slight differences between the lowland Tinguian, the mountain Tinguian, the Ilocano, and the Apayao, although among the interior inhabitants, the hair tends to be wavy, the only significant difference that seems to stand out. The Spaniards initiated contact with the Tinguian in 1572 during Salcedo’s Ilocos campaign. While Spanish colonization did not immediately disrupt precolonial trade with neighboring countries, Christianity was at once imposed. Those who would later be identified as Tinguian fled to the mountains in resistance. In 1598 the Spaniards invaded Abra and erected a garrison at the village of Bangued. This drove the Tinguian further up the river where they founded the Langangilang settlement.
Conversion was gradual but eventually succeeded in establishing Tinguian villages in the lowlands during the 18th and 19th centuries. Voluntary assimilation, rewarded by tax exemption and other benefits, failed to attract the Tinguian. Forced to live in pueblos, they were burdened with taxes and forced labor. In 1868 Governor General Esteban de Peñarubia banished the nonconverts from their homes and confiscated their property. Their native costume was forbidden in the towns. Christianization increased through intimidation because the practice of old customs was made punishable by law. Mounting hostility and the exploitation of the Tinguian alienated them further from Christian Filipinos. Nevertheless trade relations continued and, with the support of the Spaniards and later the Americans, the Ilocano influence grew.
By the turn of the century, headtaking which the Tinguian practiced, had practically disappeared. The Tinguian were represented in the Philippine revolution of 1898; warriors armed with traditional weapons were sent to fight the Spaniards. When the Americans came, Commissioner Dean Worcester freed Tinguian villages from Ilocano control and granted them autonomy. The removal of unequal taxes and labor requirements prevented major conflicts with the Americans. Tinguian socioeconomic life retained much of its traditional character up to the 1950s and the early 1960s.
Changes in the economic mainstream started to impinge on Tinguian society since then. The liberal importation of textiles into the country increased to a point that locally woven cloths were displaced. Tinguian weavers were not exempted from this influence. In recent years, there has been a constant decline in the supply of indigenous woven material from which the highly touted burial blankets of the Tinguian, and their apparel, are made. In the past, the Tinguian succeeded in producing their own cotton, and continued to use traditional material in perpetuating old designs or creating new ones.
This was made necessary by the fact that every phase of the life cycle required a certain type of cloth to be worn or displayed in the many rituals, feasts, and celebrations held periodically. The agricultural life of the Tinguian suffered with the introduction of Virginia Tobacco in the 1960s. The attention of farmers was focused on the raising of this cash crop rather than on the cultivation of sufficient rice and other staple crops. The cash crop did little to improve the economic situation of the Tinguian. Prices of tobacco were manipulated, and the Tinguian farmers were cheated by intermediaries in the purchase of tobacco leaves. In recent times, the Tinguian have become one of the most marginalized groups in the Cordillera.
Economic underdevelopment, the inaccessibility of their mountainous homeland, and attempts of the Marcos regime to exploit their vast timberlands for large-scale logging and processing of forest products-for corporate profit-served to encourage the growth of insurgency throughout Abra. The geopolitical unit that is known today as the Cordillera Administrative Region used to be composed of the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, Bontoc, and Kalinga-Apayao, leaving Abra out as part of the Ilocos region. The inclusion of the Tinguian homeland in the Cordillera region is a late recognition of the fact that the Tinguian have a very clear cultural affinity with the Igorot groups, even though a significant part of their society has also been closely identified with Christianized Ilocano society.
Economy The Tinguian practice dry and wet agriculture in the highlands and the lowlands, respectively. Rainwater is conducted to terraced fields by means of ditches. Dams are constructed to divert the flow of streams by means of ditches and flumes. In the lower and wider terraces, the carabao-drawn plow is used, this implement having been introduced during the Spanish period. The main crops are rice, corn, sweet potato, and tubers. Sugarcane is also planted, its juice used in the preparation of basi, a favored beverage in the north. Among the domestic animals are dogs, pigs, chickens, and carabao.
In recent times, horses and cattle have been introduced. Aside from agriculture, the making of iron tools is an important activity. The Tinguian produce many kinds of blades, including bolo, kitchen knives, and headaxes. It appears that the Tinguian had no knowledge of mining iron ore. They secured the iron slugs from coastal areas even as far back as prehispanic times, when they used to buy these from the Chinese who brought iron bars. The smith’s forge consists of two upright cylinders made of wood. The Tinguian fashion bark cloth from certain trees, and they use the material in various ways: as headbands, loincloth, containers, and others.
Tinguian weavers produce blankets which are known for their use of traditional and symbolic representations, as well as new designs. Men manufacture ropes, baskets, nets, and many kinds of traps. Women make mats and do pottery. The articles produced in these industries have furnished the people the things they need, but over a long period of time, the Tinguian have also engaged in trade with the outside, especially the lowland and coastal regions of the Ilocos. The selling of timber, bamboo, and rattan has provided them with cash income. Trade is made convenient by the fact that these articles can be floated down Abra River to the markets.Political System All villagers customarily recognized a lakay or elderly patriarchal figure, who was usually the wisest and most perceptive person in the community.
He was assisted by other male elders of the village who were also considered wise and intelligent and could be depended upon to deliberate on matters concerning the welfare of the village. They constituted a kind of council of lallakay (the elders) under the leadership of the lakay. This council deliberated and decided on issues regarding social behavior, e.g., divorce, theft, retaliation, and others. The Tinguian village did not develop a system of wards or political subunits analogous to the Bontoc ili, the simplest form of town organization in northern Luzon.
The lakay system, however, has served as an effective way of integrating Tinguian society. With the assimilation of this cultural community into the national-local centralized political system in the Philippines, the role of the village council, where it still exists, may no longer have the full authority and influence it used to wield over the life of the community. But the wisdom of the old is still very much respected, and their counsel taken to heart by a new generation of Tinguian who give value to the customs and traditions handed down to them. Social Organization and Customs The French writer Paul de la Gironiere who traveled to several parts of Luzon in the 19th century noted that early Tinguian society was animistic in belief and patriarchal in social organization.
Other accounts described the Tinguian as an industrious, peaceful, and clean people. Cole (1922:237) observed that this group had a lifestyle similar to those of the more advanced groups during the Spanish conquest. The social institutions and practices mentioned in these accounts have survived to a certain extent, particularly in the interior of the Tinguian homeland in western Abra. In Tinguian society, the basic unit of social village organization is the family, in which kinship ties have remained strong, despite the absence of kinship terms reckoned along paternal and maternal lines (Fortin 1978:43).
Social status is measured by wealth, particularly the ownership of heirloom treasures such as ancient Chinese pottery, porcelain, copper gongs, as well as possession of work animals and rice fields. A family which has a substantial ownership of such forms of material wealth is regarded as belonging to the baknang (affluent). Wealth is hereditary, so that the traditionally rich and poor could be expected to pass on their social status to succeeding generations, but social mobility is possible through hard work and thrift (Fortin 1978:25). A traditional Tinguian practice is parentally arranged child marriage.
Children are usually matched with each other at a very young age (six or eight years old). When the time for the actual marriage comes, a series of ritual negotiations takes place: yellow, agate, and red beads are offered by the future groom’s intermediary to the future bride, as a token of “affection”; the boy’s desirable traits, and his family background are recounted to convince the girl of the advantages of marrying the prospective groom; upon the girl’s acceptance of the proposal, beads are attached to the girl’s waist as a sign of engagement; the date for the fixing of the pakalon (bride-price) is set; the pakalon having been agreed upon, a feast is held for the relatives of the couple at the girl’s house; the bride-price is finally settled after pigs are slaughtered and favorable omens are read; and the groom’s family pay the pakalon, in the form of livestock, jars, blankets, and other valuable items, with a “downpayment” being given to the parents and relatives of the girl (Fortin 1978:31).
This kind of arrangement immediately starts interfamily relations involving obligations that are mutually beneficial to both sides of the contracting parties. These include assistance in making a clearing, in planting and harvesting, and in food exchange—a basic necessity among subsistence people.
Several practices are associated with the marriage ceremony among the Tinguian. When the girl comes from another village, it becomes necessary for the boy’s parents to make gift offerings for every stream crossed, in addition to the pakalon agreed upon. The bride-price strengthens the family and kinship structure. There are numerous beliefs and practices related to sickness in which the services of folk medicine practitioners, usually women, are required. In these instances, sacrifices are offered. As far as the Tinguian are concerned, death is a milestone, the beginning of an afterlife for one who leaves this world. Several ritual practices are observed in order to facilitate this all-important passage from one life to the other. The corpse is cleaned and dressed immediately, to prepare it for its journey to the afterworld which is called maglawa (future home).
Burial of the dead is done under the house or within the yard, after which there is much lamentation in the house of the departed. This is the sansangit (shedding of tears), during which the life and deeds of the dead person are recounted in a wailing manner. In ancient times, the Tinguian practiced an elaborate ritual of river burial. A raft was prepared, and on it the dead was laid out with provisions for the journey. Sent off with prayers, the raft was set adrift downriver, which was the direction towards the afterlife. The Tinguian put great importance on their communal rituals. They build elaborate structures and employ various paraphernalia for the rituals held to cure the sick and to honor the dead.
The say-ang is the most important of Tinguian ceremonies. This is observed during the construction of the balawa, the biggest anito dwelling used for curing sickness and the performance of magical rites. Other rituals, like the sugayog, dawak, calangan, and bawbawa or calcapao, are meant to combat the influence of evil spirits, as well as attract the intercession of benign anitos. During the first two days of the wake, friends and relatives sing and dance in honor of the dead. On the third day, the mourners beat each other’s palms and thighs with a stick to express grief, and to share in the pain of the grieving family. Before the corpse is finally laid to rest, a medium goes into a state of possession, and recites the dead person’s last message to the family. The corpse is sprinkled with pig’s blood.
As a final precaution, an iron plow is laid upon the grave to ward off evil spirits. The lay-og (death anniversary) is celebrated a few months after the burial. Relatives and friends pay tribute to the memory of the dead. The ceremony also serves to lift the sorrow of the bereaved. The celebrants partake of rice, pork, beef, carabao meat, and basi. Afterwards, an offering of rice mixed with pig’s blood is made by the medium to the guardian stones. With the offering of diam (rice with pig’s blood), the tadek, the dance for religious occasions, is performed. The medium returns to the gathering, with a group of men who shout to frighten away evil spirits. Near the house of the dead, a chair is laid out with offerings of food and clothing.
To appease the spirits, beads, food, and clothes are laid on a shield supported by four spears. The ceremony over, the dead person’s relatives enter the house and roll up the mat used by the dead. They open doors and windows, and life goes back to normal. Religious Beliefs and Practices The Tinguian believe in the presence of spirits in their midst. These spirits, called sasailo, dwell in the natural surroundings or move among human beings, and exert influence on events and activities in human society. The sasailo possess powers and intelligence which are equal or superior to those of human beings, and they become the basis for certain sanctions and prohibitions that must be followed by people, on pain of retribution. They are to be feared and respected. Taking the form of human beings, they move about, aware of everything that is going on.
The Tinguian classify supernatural beings into three general categories: spirits who have existed through all time; spirits of inferior rank which are neither benevolent nor evil; and spirits of ancestors and other mortals who are invisible, but who may enter the bodies of mediums so that they can communicate with the living (Fortin 1978:37). In Tinguian cosmogony, the first inhabitants in the world were their very ancestors. The world was created by a Supreme Being named Bagatulayan, who lives and rules the celestial realm, directing its activities. Kadaklan is a deity subordinate to Bagatulayan. He is a friendly spirit who teaches the Tinguian how to pray, harvest their crops, ward off evil spirits, and overcome bad omens and cure sicknesses. Apadel or Kalagang, another deity, is known to be the guardian and dweller of the spirit-stones called pinaing which play an important role in the spiritual world of the Tinguian.
Of various sizes and shapes, the pinaing are usually found in spots marked out as hallowed ground, often under old trees, and are deemed to be the protectors of such places and of the creatures who live in the forests.Spirits are of two kinds: the malevolent and the benevolent. One benevolent spirit who dwells in the natural surrounding is Makaboteng (“one who frightens”), believed to be the guardian of the deer and the wild pigs. A key figure in Tinguian mythology is the kumau, a malevolent spirit who can change its appearance at will, taking on the appearance even of the human being it wants to waylay in the forest. For ages, the myth of the kumau appears to have exerted a strong social control effect, analogous to the influence of the granary gods in other Cordillera societies.
There is only one person who has the power and ability to communicate with the sasailo: the alopogan or medium, usually a middle-aged woman. In rituals of communication with the spiritual world, the alopogan undergoes possession by the spirits, who guide and inspire her words and her actions. The alopogan presides in the various rituals and ceremonies held by the Tinguian, such as the say-ang, which is performed in connection with the construction of the balawa, the largest temple dedicated to the sasailo, and built for the supplications of cures in a time of illness. Other rituals in which the alopogan presides are the sugayog, dawak, calangan, and bawbawa or calcapao, which aim to combat the combined workings of evil spirits, as well as to seek the blessings of the benevolent sasailos.
Architecture and Community Planning Tinguian settlements are located in Abra. In the past, however, the Tinguian belonged to the Apayao district of Cagayan where they built both bamboo and wooden houses. The former were brought down by the Tinguian migrants over the ridge of the Cordillera range towards the Abra Valley, where they have since established their settlements. According to Gironiere (1972:66), the Tinguian had two types of houses in the early 19th century: a daytime dwelling, which was a small cabin made of bamboo and straw, and a nighttime dwelling which was smaller and perched upon great posts or atop a tree, about 18-24 meters above the ground. This was a precaution against surprise nocturnal attacks by the Guinanas, their mortal enemies from a neighboring region.
With continued pacification campaigns of the Spaniards, however, the Tinguian were subsequently drawn to the settled life in small separate villages. Gradually the tree dwellers became town dwellers. At present, Tinguian houses are usually built in clusters near their fields. The rice granaries and vegetable patches are located along the boundaries of these clusters. A Tinguian village generally consists of two or three such settlements situated near one another. Towards the lowlands, and especially in Christianized areas, Tinguian dwellings have a more contemporary design, while retaining some features of indigenous architecture. Now, some well-off
Tinguian families have houses of wood, with capiz windows, and even galvanized iron roofing. In the uplands and in the interiors, however, Tinguian architecture has remained basically unchanged, relying on cogon grass for roofing, bamboo for framework, sidewalls, and flooring, and hardwood trunks for the main house posts. The general appearance closely resembles that of the nipa hut in the Philippine rural area. Like other Cordillera houses, Tinguian dwellings have a single room which contains the sleeping quarters and the hearth for cooking food. Sometimes the one-room house is surrounded by a porch of bamboo. In traditional Tinguian houses, the flooring of the house is made of bamboo slats. Through these slats the bride and groom are expected to push a small quantity of ceremonial cooked rice, as an offering to the spirits. There is one feature, however, which distinguishes the Tinguian house, even the more contemporary ones.
One corner of the house, constructed of bamboo with bamboo slats for flooring, is reserved for the mother when giving birth to her child. The Tinguian rice granary resembles its Isneg counterpart, from which it may have originally derived, since the Tinguian used to occupy a territory which was part of Apayao. The Tinguian granary has walls which flare outward, a design that makes it difficult for field rats to climb in. The foundation of these granaries feature four girders mortised across one another on the same level with their ends protruding beyond the joint (Scott 1969).
Aside from houses, the Tinguian also build chicken houses and sheds for domestic animals. They also erect the miniature spirit houses for sasailo and the spirits of their dead relatives. Mostly found at the outskirts of towns, these spirit houses contain various offerings for the sasailo, such as boiled rice, chicken liver, and other food. There are no structures in the Tinguian village for bachelors, nor are there dormitories for girls. Instead, there are elaborate ritual structures erected for special occasions like the say-ang. Among these are the balawa, a big temporary structure built for the anito near the house of the celebrant. Its uses, however, are not merely spiritual. It also serves as a meeting place for the womenfolk, and as a center for economic activity.
Other structures built for the say-ang are: the alalot, made of bamboo arches supporting a grass roof; the aligang, where basi and other offerings are put; and the ansisilit, a structure placed near the pinaing or guardian stones. In all, around 18 structures are built for the say-ang and other less important rituals (Fortin 1978:15). There is also a mausoleum-type of small structure lined with stones for the reception of multiple burials, found beneath the Tinguian house. Visual Arts and Crafts The first material used by the Tinguian for their clothing was the bark of trees. With the introduction of cloth, Tinguian weavers eventually produced the male suit called the ba-al (clout), worn together with the balibas (woven shirt).
On special occasions, a bado (long-sleeved jacket) is also worn with this suit. A traditional headgear made from bamboo with a low dome-shaped top reminiscent of the lowland salakot completes the male costume. The female suit consists of a short-sleeved jacket with a narrow skirt extending from the waist down to the knees, with a girdle attached to a clout in the case of adolescent females (Fortin 1978:13). Both males and females practice body tattooing. Among women, tattooing of the arms conceals the marks left when they remove the strands of beads covering their arms from elbow to wrist (See logo of this article). The older generation of Tinguian women had themselves tattooed on the arms—from the wrist to the shoulder—as well as on their faces.
They wore several sets of beads: one around their hair, paired with brass earrings, one around their necks, and another around their wrists. Often, another set of beads was slung over the shoulder and went under the armpits (Cabrera 1977:142-143). A piece of jewelry which doubles as a charm to ward off evil spirits is an ornament with an ambiguously carved animal figure. The Tinguian are particularly noted for their creative designs in weaving, bead making, basketry, and pottery. They weave their cloth from locally produced material using simple but effective equipment.
While the old handheld loom is still used in some places, most of the local weavers now use the modern spinning wheel. The weavers produce the multicolored tapis, aside from other articles of clothing. The balwasi (female blouse) is made from abel (woven cloth). This is basically white, with polychrome stripes at the center. The bankudo or piningitan is a wraparound skirt for women, which is all white except for a red strip at the edges. Another common product of the loom is blankets, which use a wide variety of designs, like male and female figures, flowers and plants, animal motifs including horses, goats, fish. Many of these Tinguian “death blankets,” which are considered heirloom pieces, are fast disappearing, snapped up by foreign and local treasure hunters from Tinguian houses.
Motifs, which include animal figures like snakes, lizards and birds, and geometric and floral designs, are incised on bamboo instruments and wooden pipes. Tinguian pottery, on the other hand, is decorated with scroll-like designs. Another craft for which the Tinguian are noted is beadwork. Heirloom beads, many of them remnants of an ancient trade, are usually strung with other local beads to create a fascinating variety of combinations and patterns. Baskets are used for storing food, carrying crops, bringing trade products to the lowland areas, and similar purposes. These are seldom adorned with decorative motifs.Literary Arts The oral traditions of the Tinguian were first gathered by Cole (1915).
The long narratives recorded appear to be chanted epics, recounting the exploits of characters belonging to a supranatural world. Tinguian mythology contains a host of characters who play out the relationships between the sky dwellers and the mortals on earth. One story relates how the beautiful maiden Apo-ni-Bulinayen “was pulled up by a vine that curled mysteriously around her body and deposited in the yard of the sun god” (Demetrio 1991:62). Another story relates how the star maiden Gaygayoma lowered a basket from her celestial abode for the earth dweller Apo-ni-Tolau to ride up to heaven, where the two eventually married, while the man’s wife was left on earth. The story of the great flood, like the origin myth, is a basic motif in oral tradition.
The Tinguian have their own version of the flood, which in this case also functions as a myth of the origin of human beings. It is said that one day, the god-hero and Tinguian warrior Apo-ni-Tolau went down to the lowlands until he reached the sea. Fascinated by the vast waters, he built himself a raft made of rattan, and rowed out until he reached the edge of the world where the sea and sky met. There he saw a towering rock, which was the place of the sea-god, Tau-mari-u. The place was guarded by nine beautiful women who were the daughters of the seaweeds.
Angered by the playfulness of the maidens who lured him into the sea-god’s place, the Tinguian warrior threw his magic hook and caught the youngest and loveliest maiden, whose name was Humitau. The woman screamed and struggled until she was weakened by the hook’s magic oil. Apo-ni-Tolau carried her to his raft, then escaped. Hearing of the abduction, Tau-mari-u was enraged, and called right away for the waves and the tunas to rescue Humitau from the brash Tinguian. Apo-ni-Tolau cried out for help to his mother, Lang-an of Kadalayapan, the lady of the wind and rain. The goddess sent down strong winds to hurl back the waves and the tunas of Tau-mari-u, and pull her son’s raft ashore. Angrier now, Tau-mari-u called a meeting of the gods and spirit of the seas and the oceans, and they all agreed to punish the land dwellers for what the Tinguian god had done.
Learning of the plan, Lang-an instructed her son to go up the highest mountain in the Cordillera with his household, to escape the great flood that was soon to come. And when it came, the flood filled up the valleys and plains, destroying crops and killing work animals. Then the floodwater surged up the mountain where Apo-ni-Tolau, his wife Humitau, and the warrior’s household had sought safety. Humitau, who had lost her powers as a sea diwata (spirit) because she tasted her husband’s mountain food, cried out to Tau-mari-u. Despite his anger, the lord of the sea took pity upon his favorite Humitau, and called back the floodwaters.
But he vowed that thenceforth, he would sink boats and drown people in retribution for what Apo-ni-Tolau had done. After the deluge, Apo-ni-Tolau and Humitau came down the mountain, and had children who became the first people of the world (Eugenio 1989:248). Kanag Kababagowan is an Itneg epic chanted in the rice fields during harvest time to provide respite from the monotony of work. It is also recited by a fire or a hearth to entertain the weavers, the makers of rope, or the shell polishers who make cups and bowls. The epic recounts the life and times of Apo-ni-Tolau, Apo-ni-Bulinayen, and their son Kanag. It is an extended narrative of events woven around the exploits and tribulations of heroes and heroines in Kadalayapan and Kaodanan.
These are called collectively “the stories of the first times,” and are actually made up of several stories which may be related separately, depending on the storyteller. The epic of Kanag Kababawogan features an assortment of mythical creatures: spirit-birds; spirit-helpers (or guardian spirits); the alan, a treelike man who waylays hunters in the mountains of Matawetawen; banaw-es, alikadkad, or dagimuano, magical betel nuts and perfumes which can revive the beheaded (like Kanag); a ten-headed giant who builds his roof from the hair of his victims; and a rooster who rides a burial raft on the river, announcing to all the identity of the dead person. Performing Arts Tinguian music has been described as a “total experience” shared by the whole community, and is an activity of communal life associated with the rituals of life and death.
This music is “characterized by ancient elements: recurring rhythmic patterns, continual repetitions, formula opening and closing phrases, and the modest use of four or five tones repeated in sequences within the narrow span of an octave” (SamonteMadrid 1977:437). The Tinguian have many types of musical instruments, as well as songs, which are shared with neighboring Cordillera groups, particularly the Kankanay,
Kalinga, and Bontoc. As in any indigenous setting, there is an integral and harmonious performance of instrumental music, song, dance, and ritual of a participatory nature. Thus, the gangsa is played, the tadek or the da-eng is danced, and the salidummay is sung during the celebration of a lay-og, a bagongong (wake for the departed), or a polya (wedding feast). The gangsa is a gong made of brass and iron. It is flat and varies in size, the smallest being 30 centimeters in diameter, and the largest measuring 40 centimeters. The rim is about 1.7 centimeters thick. Like the gongs of the other Cordillera groups, and unlike those of Mindanao, the Tinguian gangsa has no central boss or incised surface decorative motifs. Gangsa playing is basically a rhythmic ensemble performance. There are different ways of playing the flat gongs, using hands, sticks, or a combination of hands and sticks. There are at least three styles of ensemble playing, heard especially during festive celebrations.
These are suklit (sinuklit), palluuk (pinalookan), and pinallaiyan (inilaud). In gangsa suklit, the ensemble consists of a set of five to six flat gongs of graduated sizes laid on the laps of male performers who use their open palms to sound the instruments. The gongs have specific names, and they have interlocking patterns of play to produce the rhythmic pattern. The first and lowest-pitched gong is the balbal or barbar, followed by the kadwa, the katlo, the kapat, the pokpok (which plays a staccato sound at regular beats); the sixth and highest-pitched gong is the balwawi, which creates varied patterns in relation to the resultant melodies produced by the lower gongs. This particular flat gong accompanies dances which all fall under the tadek type.
The second flat gong ensemble is the gangsa palluuk, in which all the gongs are struck with sticks on either the inner or outer space. The gangsa palluuk consists of five or as many gongs as are available. This is played by men who dance as they strike their gongs, and who are then joined by a group of women dancers. The third Tinguian ensemble is the pinallaiyan or inilaud, which consists of three to four flat gongs and a cylindrical double-headed drum called tambol. The name pinallaiyan is said to refer to the gong-drum ensemble in Abra’s western highland areas, while the inilaud, taken from the word lagud meaning “west,” is used in the ensemble playing of the western and lowland areas of the province. The technique of sounding the gongs in pinallaiyan combines the use of hands and sticks.
The names of the four gongs with their respective playing techniques are talukatik, a gong laid on the ground and struck with two sticks; pawwek, a gong held by its string in a vertical position with the lower rim sitting on the ground and struck with one stick on the inside; bugalu, a gong held on the ground and struck with a stick in one hand; and the fourth and largest is the kib-ung which rests on the player’s arm and is beaten on its surface with an open palm. The ensemble’s drum or tambol (from the Spanish tambor, “drum”) is played with two sticks which strike only one of the two drumheads. Tinguian flat-gong music is often simulated on a bamboo tube zither called kulitteng (kuriteng, kulittong) with four to six strings lifted up from the instrument’s hard bamboo skin. One particular way of playing the tube zither combines the plucking of strings with the fingers of one hand, and striking one or two strings with a stick held by the other hand.
Another Tinguian technique is for two performers to play the tube zither, with one player plucking the strings using both hands, and the other player holding the opposite end of the bamboo tube while knocking on the tube’s body with the knuckles of one hand, in prescribed rhythmic patterns. The third style of playing the kulitteng is by simply plucking the strings with both hands, a style found as well among the neighboring Bontoc and Kalinga. The patpattong, a leg xylophone composed of five bamboo blades of graduated sizes and played solo by children using two sticks, is another instrument that simulates the flat gong. Other types of ensembles performed by the Tinguian consist of groups of bamboo instruments such as the patangguk (quill-shaped tubes), played during the forging of peace pacts; tongatong (stamping tubes), commonly used in most rituals; and the bilbil or balingbing (bamboo buzzers) which are played to assuage feelings of sadness.
The saysay-up ensemble consists of six bamboo pipes. The lowest-pitched pipe is called a balbal. The specific names of the other pipes correspond to their pitch and position in the ensemble, namely, makadwa (second pipe), makatlo (third pipe), kapat (fourth pipe), lima (fifth pipe), and anem (sixth pipe). Serenading and courtship are the usual occasions for bringing out the solo aerophones played by Tinguian men. These are the paldong or palpaldeng (mouth flute with notch) and the kulaleng (nose flute). On the other hand, the duwas or diwdiw-as (pan pipe) is normally played by women, usually at night, when its soft plaintive sounds travel far. This instrument consists of six to seven open bamboo tubes, of varying lengths and diameters, lashed together.
The Tinguian also have the jew’s harp made of bamboo, which is called ullibaw or kolibaw. The one made of metal is called agiweng, while the other type made of brass is called kalibu. Traditionally played by hunters, the mouth harp is believed to induce the pittogo birds to excite wild pigs and deer so that they might move through the forest, thus making them easier to trap. A functionally related instrument is the tabangkaw (musical mouth bow) which is played to call upon the spirit Kabunyan to help the men stage a good hunt. The Tinguian also play a violin made of bamboo or wood. This is the labil or nabil, which has three to four metal strings, which are bowed with a goged. It is played on various occasions for entertainment, and has a repertoire which includes instrumental renditions of vocal music.
Tinguian songs are generally of two kinds: declamatory songs and “known” songs. The declamatory songs include balayugos, ngayowek, and oggayam, which are all improvised songs of welcome and farewell, or songs which have something to teach. They differ only in their tonal range, melodic ornamentation, and verse form. The ngayowek are closest to free verse. In singing, the performer’s voice follows as closely as possible the inflections of regular speech. The balayugos is a declamatory song for dignitaries or those of distinguished status. Like the ngayowek, it is more condensed than ordinary speech, not repetitious but very oratorical. These songs are suited for men’s voices.
On the other hand, the oggayam is the most commonly used, being the most familiar to other groups. It has a wider melodic range. The rhyme scheme is free verse, with a preponderant use of the terminals am, em, en, an. In the “known” songs, the same words are sung repeatedly. The most popular are the many variations of the salidummay. There is no fixed meaning recognizable in the word, which occurs in the refrain “ay, ay salidummay, salidummay diway.” This follows a two-line “thought grouping” in which a statement is made. The salidummay is the most adaptable of all Tinguian songs and is sung in various occasions: in welcoming a visitor, in weddings, funeral wakes, and just about any social gathering.
It can be used for just about any kind of adaptation of poems, stories, events, whether serious or humorous. One person’s (or area’s) salidummay may be different in melody and text from the next one. Apart from the salidummay, there are also the old “ceremonial songs” such as the daeng, dalleng, dango, diwas, and dain, which have been described as “snatches of remembered phrases.” Pfeiffer (1975:19-23) has described various Tinguian songs which are performed in a variety of occasions. The naktagad sit suwakok is a song that is meant simply for enjoyment. It tells of a man who has lost his pipe, which is sufficient to provoke him to battle.
The alba-ab is a dirge sung during the period following death and burial. The ammaga is sung during wakes for the dead by both men and women to keep the watchers awake throughout their long vigil. A leader sings the song, and he/she is then followed in the singing by another person appointed from among the group of watchers. A person who commits an error in singing his/her part is fined by being made to drink more basi or a shellful of water. This song calls for skills in extemporaneous delivery. The palpalobos (farewell) is a dirge sung just before a burial. After the dead person is seated on the ceremonial chair, and placed outside the house, the palpalobos is sung by representatives of the widow or the widower and the children.
The dalleng is a general song which is usually sung in practically all Tinguian ceremonies except before a burial. It is sung, for instance, during the agto or fertility ceremony for a young wife when the spirits are asked to bestow fertility upon the woman. The buddo-buddo is a chantlike lullaby using a popular Itneg folktale. The buddobuddo is a furry worm resembling a centipede. In the song, it represents an orphan who goes from house to house, and asks for milk and food. The orphan is refused each time. Then she is found by Buaya, the crocodile. Taking pity on her, Buaya accompanies the orphan to every house, and introduces himself by singing the words “Saken si Buddo-buddo, innak makisussuso.” (I am Buddo-buddo, and I have come to suck milk.)
The song has a simple melody, is sung very slowly in a pure falsetto, and is meant to lull the baby to sleep. The tikgi is another popular song based on a folktale. The tikgi is a kind of bird. The story says that her parents left Tikgi, so she wanders off looking for them. She chants the line “Tikgi, Tikgi alawlawagi, ay wada’s ama ken ina’ssa?” (Tikgi, Tikgi, the carpenter’s daughter, can my father and mother be there?) Like the buddo-buddo, whose storyline is similar, the tikgi is sung quietly. The oggayam is a song for almost all kinds of occasions. Like the salidummay, the text calls for extemporaneous creation, and is sung in a rhythmic and rhyming pattern.
One particular oggayam is sung during the ceremony variously called lay-og, dalos or wacsi (cleansing or casting away), which is held one year after a person’s death, when the living are supposed to “cleanse” themselves of sorrow. Among the most popular of Tinguian songs are the rice-pounding songs. Ceremonial occasions such as weddings, funerals, and anniversaries require that rice be pounded until they are well polished. The rice pounders, commonly women and young maids, sing these songs in rhythm to the pounding of rice. Here is a rice-pounding song for weddings: Imma isa-a-isa (2x) Manbayo cad si Angtan Gumas su gasuwi dan Imma isa-a-isa (2x) Sakon kad did manbayo Isalsalong giekco Imma isa-a-isa (The song is repeated six times) Imma one after the other (2x) Angtan will do the pounding The pestle will rock Imma one after the other (2x) If I be the one to pound My life would be in danger.
Imma one after the other. This is a rice-pounding song for funerals: Imma isa-a-isa Manbayo wak si pagay Imma isa-a-isa Kannen kan dat babaknang Imma isa-a-isa Babaknang si pagay Imma isa-a-isa Manbayo wak si pagay Imma isa-a-isa Kannen kan dat babaknang Imma isa-a-isa Imma one after the other I will pound rice Imma one after the other To be eaten by the rich Imma one after the other The rice is rich Imma one after the other I will pound rice Imma one after the other To be eaten by the rich Imma one after the otherTinguian dances are performed in a variety of ceremonial occasions (Reyes-Urtula 1981). The idudo is a dance of thanksgiving after the planting of the first rice grains or after the harvest of the last crop. As the pig is butchered, the tapuy (rice wine) is brought out, the gongs and drums are played and the dancing begins. Dancers in their festive costumes take to the dancing ground in the middle of the village.
Many dances are performed in this feast, but the idudo (which means “lullabye”) is probably the most performed. It shows the respective roles of the Tinguian couple in the cycle of production: the mother clears the field, pounds and cleans the grains, while the father rocks his baby to sleep with a lullaby as he smokes. Other fathers have their babies in their arms. The pal-look is a dance of the people living in the northern and eastern districts of Abra. It is done to gangsa music and performed on all festive occasions, but especially in welcoming guests to the village.
The uwawi is performed to the music of the uwawi (lullabye), which is similar to the idudo. It depicts Tinguian parents taking turns in minding the baby while they undertake chores like pounding and winnowing rice. The sakyat is a dance usually performed by rich and prominent families who wish to enhance and preserve their high social status in the Tinguian community. The mandadawak (shaman) summons the spirits by striking the old plate called panay. A religious structure called the ap-appyag has been set up in the yard. Five different bamboo instruments are played (the ensemble is called awong kawayan), while four dancers dance the tadek around the ap-appyag. Flutes and gangsas may also be used instead of the bamboo instruments.
The esek is a dance accompanied by singing. The lyrics of the song describe how people plant corn (i.e., mag-esek) when the rains come. The lyrics are of the salidummay type; the tune provides the rhythm for the dance. The salidummay is either sung by the dancers themselves, or by a group of singers accompanying the performers. Two musical instruments help the dancers and the singers along: an iron rod and triangle, and a caralat, a bamboo instrument that produces a crackling sound. The tadek is danced during religious occasions, such as the lay-og which ends the period of mourning for the dead. The da-eng, on the other hand, is a ceremonial dance performed at nighttime to the accompaniment of chants by the participants.