Editor’s Note: This story is by Evelyn Ingosan as she remembers while growing up in Baguio. She is now in her 80s and putting down her childhood memories together for us to enjoy too. It is rewritten with minimal editing by Kathleen T. Okubo.
When the Americans came (circa 1900s), they established their rules and regulations on everything and imposed it on the Igorots* (*here it refers to the Ibaloi of Baguio and Benguet but the term also means people of the mountains in the general area of nothern luzon). One of these regulations was the burial of the dead in the cemetery which was contrary to the traditional Igorot practices for their dead. This regulation was enforced and executed by the appointed authorities of the local colonial government with such ardent fervor. There could be no more burials under the house, no more practice of mummyfying, all these were deemed illegal.
Grandma said that people as far as Agpai (Tuba area) had to carry their dead to be buried at the municipal cemetery (present Baguio cemetery). Pall bearers had to take frequenrt rests along the way. The favored resting place was almost halfway underneath the shade of a great gnarled pine tree.
The knotted strings that kept tally of the offerings, the number of children, and number of days of the wake are neatly coiled and placed in the coffin, along with clean clothings and a new blanket, and buried with the dead.
Right after the burial, the people clean the whole house that belonged to the one who died, inside and out. The house is swept, the clothes, tools. baskets, etc. all packed and neatly placed in a corner. The paraphernalia that is part of the wake are all taken down: the ceremonial rope tied to the four posts of the house, a chip off one of the posts of the house. The fire in the hearth is put off and it is swept off old ashes; cut wood is prepared and put beside it for a new fire. All rubish is cleaned out of the house and the yard.
Then preparations are made for the purification rites. A parong is placed on the roof, An arch of rono (reeds) and wood are built at each entrance to the house to where the skulls and horns of the animals butchered and offered during the wake are tied. The archs are to remind the spirits as well as the living that somebody has passed away. Then the mambunong performs the rites of purification or cleansing. After the rites a new fire is lit and the people take leave for their homes before darkness sets in. The house is abandoned. # nordis.net