By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Village officials of Natubleng, in Bugias town of Benguet are wary from losing again Apo Anno, the mummified remains of a revered Igorot ancestor again, not likely to thieves but more to nature’s wrath, according to Camotiao Alinso, Jr., village chief.
Alinso said steps have to be done referring to the construction of additional flood control structures along the creeks above the cave where Apo Anno’s mummified remains is kept. “We fear that the creeks would overflow and cause land slides or flooding and wash away Apo Anno’s burial site,” he disclosed.
Alinso pointed out that typhoons and rains had become stronger these days. He explained that two creeks, called Pakpakitan and Natubleng converges right above the cave and flows down to its side.
Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan disclosed that the provincial government already gave P500,000 to the Natubleng village government for the preservation of Apo Anno’s burial site in 2013. “We really have to preserve Apo Anno and his burial site. But we have to help each other out,” he stressed.
Fongwan said the provincial government has already given its share so the village officials will have to look for other sources of funds if needed.
Alinso shared that they were able to construct a flood control dike measuring about 45 meters along the sides of creek from the funding sourced out from the provincial government in 2013. But he said a larger 600 meter flood control dike needs to be constructed to ensure the safety of Apo Anno. “We are still looking for possible sources of funds not just for the flood control but for the development plan for the area,” he added.
Alinso shared that the village council came up with a development plan for the burial site to ensure its protection and preservation. He disclosed that the burial site also needs to be fenced because the burial site is in the middle of pasture lands and vegetable gardens. He said the fence will protect Apo Anno from animals. “The fence will also protect Apo Anno from people who enter his cave at will. We have a belief that our ancestors do not want to be disturbed in their resting place,” he said.
As part of the development plan, the village council is also processing the titling of the 5,000 square meter piece of land where Apo Anno’s cave is located and put it under the village local government property. Alinso said this will ensure that no one will encroach into Apo Anno’s resting place.
He said they are still in the process of documenting the land area to identify government or private titles or claims covering the area.
Preservation of the nearby forest reservation is also part of the village’s development plan for the preservation of Apo Anno’s burial site.Alinso, however, stressed that they will not build a road leading to Apo Anno’s cave as part of their way to control the visitors going to the area. He added that they will just maintain the pathway going to the cave. “Tourists are still welcome to visit Apo Anno but they must pass thorugh the village office so that they will be briefed about the rules and regulations in visiting the burial site based on our customs and traditions,” he added.
Apo Anno was a Kankanaey hunter believed to be half human and half god being the son of Tugtugaka, a chieftain and hunter of Nabalicong, and Cuyapon, who was believed to be a fairy and a guardian of forest animals. His mummified remains returned to Natubleng in 1999 after it was stolen in 1918.
Alinso said that Apo Anno’s return to their village brought back bountiful harvest and progress to their town. “When Apo Anno was stolen strong rains and typhoons brought disaster to our community but all these ended when he was returned,” he stressed.
He said the people returned to their village when Apo Anno returned because they believed that he brought back good fortune for them. #nordis.net