By MARY ROSE GARCIA
The Ibaloi, Kankana-ey and the Kalanguya indigenous people inhabit the municipality of Tublay town of Benguet. The town is known for its wonderful tourist destinations, to name a few, the Bengaongao cave, Winaca Village, and the Tuel hot spring.
Interestingly, its people perform the age old cañao which is part of its rich culture and tradition. The cañao is a community feast, after some rituals which is performed by the community. Particularly, each indigenous group have their own term for Cañao: the Kankana-ey call it sida, the Ibaloi peshet, and the Kalanguya kecheng.
A cañao may be performed by a family or the whole community, where the latter would be a grand cañao. Cañao may be performed for thanksgiving, healing, marriage and different ceremonies. It is generally celebrated with prayers by the Mambunong (an elder recognized to perform the traditional prayers). Aside from the prayers, traditional dances called tayao and bendian are offered. On this occasion, food, including wat-wat (big slices of meat) and tapey (traditional rice wine) are offered. The celebration may last for two to three days depending on the nature of the occasion.
In today’s modern times, many of the native traditions are slowly disintegrating or adopting to social changes. The cañao, usually performed in the community, still has the authentic dances and food but sometimes a modern evangelical church service is included. I have also observed that there are communities who do not perform the cañao anymore. The main reason is because the practice costs too much money, especially for the required pigs to be butchered.
Another reason was explained by Lakay (elder) Adawey. The mambunongs , who perform the traditional rituals and prayers are now aged. Some elders already left this world without teaching this special skill (of performing the ritual) to the youth of today.
I believe that one of the reasons for the disintegration of our culture is that the youth do not appreciate the importance of culture. They believe they can live in this modern world by setting aside these practices. Even the skills of playing the gangsa or gong fails to draw interest from the youth.
Culture refers to the meaningful practices in our community. It includes the ritual for thanks giving for a bountiful harvest and for the good health of the umili, the people in the community. It provides social norms or roles that make us significant members of the community. We are now living in a modern period of cultural diversity. Some say that our culture remains and can persist. But with the changing times, we have to move now to support its persistence.
Culture represents an adjustment to the various conditions in life, including the physical, social, and supernatural environment. In order to preserve our culture; one must appreciate the beauty of it. Although we are living in a modern world, it is not bad if we still perform it, because it is the culture we have grown up with and that we need to maintain. # nordis.net
(The author is an education student of Easter College, Baguio City)