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by: Mary Christine Abriza
"Gaddang," also "Gadang" or "Ga'dang," derives from "ga" meaning "heat" or "fire," and "dang" meaning "burn," and means "burned by heat." The name probably alludes to the skin color of the Gaddang, which is darker than any of the native peoples of the old Mountain Province. The Gaddang are found in northern Nueva Vizcaya, especially Bayombong, Solano, and Bagabag on the western bank of the Magat River, and santiago, Angadanan,
  auayan, and Reina Mercedes on the Cagayan River for Christianed groups; and western Isabela, along the edges of Kalinga and Bontoc, in the towns of Antatet, Dalig, and the barrios of Gamu and Tumauini for the non-Christianed gcommunities. The 1960 census reports that there were 25,000 Gaddang, and that 10% or about 2,500 of these were non-Christian. In 1979, the total population of the Gaddang increased to 43,150 (Philippine Almanac 1986:159).


In ancient times, the Gaddang may have come from north, entering the Cagayan River at its mouth. Details from the epic of Biwag and Malana suggest that the Gaddang may have been the first to occupy the Cagayan Valley after the Aeta. Moving upriver, the Gaddang encountered the Ilongot, from whom they may have learned how to build tree houses as security against headhunters. These early Gaddang were Proto-Philippineasians who already have a knowledge of kaingin (swidden) system of agriculture. They learned the techniques of terracing mountainsides and plowless irrigated agriculture from the Ifugao.
The Spaniards first identified the Gaddang in the early 1600s. Generally occupying the same area where they are found today though living in dispersed settlements, they were later persuaded to live in compact communities through the Spanish policy of reduccion (resettlement). Many Gaddang found settlement advantageous in view of the head-taking customs of their Illongot neighbors to the east. Over the centuries, the Gaddang were Christianized in fits and starts, first by Dominicans, later by Augustinians. The Spaniards relied on a gradual process of subjugation which was used against riverine, plain, and coastal tribes. It has been noted that the Spaniards would have done batter to capitalize on other less confrontational forms to define their relationship with the Gaddang. Mechanisms such as kolak (trade partnership) and the pudon (peace compact), which fostered trade and peaceful coexistence, could have greatly facilitated the pacification and conversion of the Gaddang. That the Spaniards prohibited the Christianized Gaddang from maintaining relations, commercial or otherwise, with their non-Christian brethren, only sustained the hostility of the uncoverted Gaddang.
Eventually, a basic dichotomy developed between Christian and non-Christian Gaddang. The Christian Gaddang even disparaged their unconverted brethren, considering "Kalinga." The behavior of the non-Christian Gaddang did not help the cause of good neighborliness. Periodically they would launch headhunting forays into Christian territory, which in many instances degenerated into pitched battles. The most serious exploit of the non-Christian or upland Gaddang occurred in the 1640s when they managed to drive off Spanish influence in a considerable area of Christianized Gaddang territory. It took one year for the Spaniards to reestablish control. The end result of the dichotomy was that Christian Gaddang were fully assimilated into the general Christian culture while the upland Gaddang were able to keep their pre-Spanish traditions relatively intact to the present.
Unlike the Spaniards, the Americans were more effective in bringing the upland Gaddang within the pale of their authority. In an effort to justify the "Christianizing" and "civilizing" component of Manifest Destiny, the Americans systematically studied the upland tribes of the Philippines, including the Gaddang. The result was that the Americans were better able to adapt their policies to the norms of tribal societies, while gaining the tribes' elusive recognition of American sovereignty. The Americans employed upland tribes to the extent of even arming them as agents of authority, enrolling them in the Philippine Constabulary and the police. Mission schools established in the upland areas introduced American values to the upland communities. Headhunting declined in the American period. One of the Gaddang mingal (title conferred on those renowned for their headhunting prowess) Wallace (1970) interviewed had only two heads to his name, the last head taken twenty years previously. He had less time for headhunting expeditions as he was imprisoned by the Americans for over eight years after his first foray. He would not have been able to take his second head had WWII not intervened and brought about the breakdown of civil order.
In the postwar years, the upland Gaddang could no longer avoid gradual assimilation into mainstream economic and political life. Population and land pressures prompted them to trade more and more with lowland groups such as the Ilocano, the Cagayano, and their  fellow Gaddang to relieve chronic food shortages brought about by inadequate farming methods and rising population.
Increasing relations with lowland and kindred groups as well as receding tensions have secured the place Gaddang settlements within the national political framework. Today there is little to distinguish the Christianized Gaddang from other Christianized tribes. Upland Gaddang now belong to barangay and municipalities and are corollarily serviced by municipal, provincial, regional, and national government agencies. Cencus figures have shown that there already is a significant urbanized segment among the Gaddang, approximately some 33% of their total population.

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Religious Beliefs and Practices

Forn non-Christian upland Gaddang, Nanolay is both creator of all things and a culture hero. In the latter role, he is a beneficent deity. Other gods in the Gaddang pantheon include Dasal, to whom the epic warriors Biwag and Malana prayed for strength and courage before going off to their final battle. The fathers of the two heroes were Bunag, the god of the earth, and Limat, the god of the sea.
Ilosa, the Gaddang universe, is composed of dufafa (earth) and kalekay (afterworld). In Gaddang cosmogony, the term denotes a place where all living things originated, the place where Nanolay performed his acts of creation. Dufafa is a world where famine, sickness, death, and uncertainty reign, while the concept of kalekay remains vague to many Gaddang. Even knowledgeable Gaddang mediums say that kalekay is simply the place of Nanolay, Ofag, and kararawa (soul). Nanolay is described in myth as a fully benevolent deity, never inflicting pain or punishment on the Gaddang. He is responsible for the origin anddevelopment of the world. Ofag is Nanolay's cousin, but does not have latter's creative powers. Kararawa are the souls of dead creatures, human or nonhuman. Upon death, the souls of all creatures go up to the kalekay, except cats, which are reborn ants, and chickens, which are reincarnated into butterflies. In kalekay, the kararawa go about living as they lived on earth. The absence of a "desirable destination" afterdeath for the Gaddang suggests an orientation toward the world of here and now. 
To the Gaddang, the dufafa is composed of "man, domesticated plants, ghouls, sickness and-amin (all)." Wallace (1970:87) observes that the Gaddang have a paranoidal fear of danger brought about by a history of headhunting and a present ridden with disease and malnutrition.
The Gaddang believe in two kinds of illness: the sickness caused by evil spirits, and the hurt or injury suffered in accidents such as those caused by falling, muscle sprains, and insect bites. The Gaddang also specifically identify blindness, insanity, birth defects, skin diseases, goiter, deafness, and malaria as other illness outside the first two classifications. Most "hurts" are attributed to natural causes, i.e., it is "natural" for an insect to bite or for a person to accidentally cut his/her leg with knife.
However, illness could also be caused by evil spirits, like the bingil, physically distorted humanlike ghouls with very large eyes that reflect light and glow in the dark, contact with which causes illness and even death in two days; aran, a mistlike spirit, floating in the forest, which sneaks into the village at night and possesses a sleeping person, who will then begin to act insanely and die sooner or later; angakokang, known only by its distinctive sound like that of a whining dog, which when heard by a person will result in sickness  or death; aled, transsubstantial spirits normally invisible, but which have the power to metamorphose themselves into human, animal (pig, bird) and non human shapes (rocks, trees), and whose touch causes dizziness and general weakness, and death within a few days; and karangat, ghouls who like the aled, can change shape at will, are unusually aggressive and tricky, lurk about villages bringing sickness, insanity, and death, and must occasionally kill to secure their food, consisting of human corpses.
With evil spirits roaming around, the Gaddang become cautious about the world in which they live.  The earth world is an uncertain world.  Omens, taboos, and malevolent spirits lead the Gaddang to view the earth world as particularly hostile.  The Gaddang must then seek to establish a harmonious relationship between humans and the other natural and supernatural beings in the world.  But few Gaddang have the ability to successfully interact with supernatural forces, requiring mediums to broker between the natural and supernatural.  Male and female mediums-mengal, mabayan, and makamong-perform anitu rites and other rituals related to planting, harvesting, death, warfare, sickness, or misfortune.
Anitu to the Gaddang does not refer to an ancestral spirit, as it commonly does in northern Luzon, but a "belief in a supernatural power."  It is also understood by the Gaddang, according to Wallace, as that which is followed by all.  Wallace suggests that anitu has two basic usages in Gaddang.  First, it is a power, force, or concept through which Nanolay," but rather, "I beg to anitu."  Anitu can only be viewed as benevolent.  It is incorrect to say narakat a anitu (bad anitu).  Second, anitu also refers to seven rites of passage which all Gaddang undergo (Wallace 1970:94).
Gaddang anitu rites are rendered to cure the sick and ensure their longevity and to avoid misfortune or illness due to breach of a taboo.  Presided by the medium and usually involving the sacrifice of a pig, these rituals could also serve to indicate status and/ or the occasions for kindred socialization.
Christianized Gaddang basically adhere to Christian norms of worship and ritual and no longer practise the rites of anitu.  Pre-Christian undercurrents, however, continue to run in Christian devotions.  The belief in God, for example, closely parallels the concept of Nanolay as the all-benevolent creator.  The intercession of gods and spirits have been replaced by the veneration and appeal to saints.  Particularly potent beings among the Gaddang are the Blessed Virgin Mary (as illustrated by her role in subduing the serpent of La Torre) and San Luis Beltran, patron saint of Solano, Nueva Vizcaya.
One significant divergence between the Christian and the non-Christian with respect the religious beliefs is found in the concept of heaven or the afterlife.  While the non-Christian view of the afterlife is simply a place where all souls go, the afterlife to the Christian Gaddang is the result of a person's earthly life.  Thus, rather than see death as a misfortune, the Christian Gaddang see death as inevitable and what makes it fortunate or unfortunate is whether or not the deceased lived a good or bad life on earth.

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  Traditional attire for Gaddang women includes the tapis, a lengthly piece of cotton cloth wound around the waistline down to he knees, and a long sleeved, round-necked collarless and waist-length blouse. The cloth used for these costumes are woven by the women themselves from homegrown cotton, and dyed in bright natural colors. In olden days, Gaddang women did not have upper garments except during feast days. The traditional costume for the Gaddang male is the G-string. The G-string is held by a girdle, whose flap is weighted on the hem by beaded tassles. An upper collarless, short garment may also be worn, together with headkerchiefs. Today, most Gaddang use skirts, trousers, and dress for everyday wear and reserve the traditional attire for ceremonies and other formal occasions.
The Gaddang are distinguished for having elevated beadwork to an art form. Unique among northern Luzon communities, the Gaddang are lavish with their use of beadwork. Gaddang women are fond of wearing seed beads around their heads, necklaces, and wrists, but glass beads and precious stones are especially priced. Their arms are never without ginadding or ginalmaddan, bracelets made of beads and copper respectively. Their headbands are called atifulan and their combs lagod, which are also lavishly tasseled and beaded. Exquisite beadwork are also trademarks of the Gaddang textiles. Most ceremonial garments have beaded seams and the front flaps of male G-strings as well as male kerchiefs and shirts may display intricate beadwork. 
Tattooing is common to both men and women, with designs imprinted on their arms, legs, and fingers. The men have theirs on the breast. Being tattooed assures them passage to heaven.

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Literary Arts

The literary material collected by Lumicao-Lora (1984) from Christian Gaddang enclaves such as Solano, Bagabag, and Bayombong and the non-Christian communities of western Isabela includes riddles, proverbs, poems, legends, and the epic of Biwag and Malana.
Lallagunut (riddles) appear to be a major pastime among Gaddang children and adults, who trade riddles formally or informally, at home, in school, on the street, on the form, in the market. Riddles which reflect the flora and fauna of the Gaddang areas serve to sharpen a child's sensitivity to his/her environment. These samples show the consistent use of an image parallel to the object being referred to (Lumicao-Lora 1984:72-78):

Ana tata bafay, iwarac na ino anacna. (Kalabasa)

A woman scatters her children. (Squash)

Appat a mauauahi sinumallung so simban
Naddadaruna color na sinnun da
Allawan da, tata lamang a libaga. (Mamman)

Four sisters went to church
Wearing clothes of varied hues.
When they came home, they all wore red. (Betel chew)

Ana tata tolay,
Accananna bagguina. (Candela)

There's a person eating up
His own body. (Candle)

The lalenut (proverbs) teach values that the Gaddang should develop in life, so that they may achieve peace and prosperity both for themselves and the community. For the individual, stress is often laid on a person's substance which leads to humility (Lumicao-Lora 1984:58-65):

Ino pakay a naddawa naddumug.

The rice stalk full of grain is bent. 

The Gaddang also put emhasis on industry and hardwork:

Mapia quepay a mattangit ca sito aggaw abao
Eh maccataua ca si uddi
Mah so maccataua ca toya eh mattangit 

It is better to cry now later, 
Than to laugh now and mourn the day after.

With respect to family realations, the Gaddang remain conservative, prizing parents above all else:

Metappol nu you atawan
Baccan si guinatan

You can throw your wife or husband out, 
But never your own parents.

Lallao (poetry), which are often transformed into songs, often start out as compositions for special occasions. Most poems have as themes love, goodwill, service, and obedience. As in the songs mentioned above, one recurrent metaphor is that of flowers to symbolize love. The poem "Berso NaAna-anap" (Verse of Frustrated Love) is typical (lumicao-Lora 1984:82-83):

Tata a lappao yo pangirang-ngirang cu
So bahu a sinag, banna-banny na dihat 
Metalugaring nu mepadandan sicuan
Yo neduma a aggam, neduna a anap

Daddaramat anna fuab
Yo mamanoc era naccayaccac
Na cancion mapparaparappag
Y canta-cantanda a iyayag yo anggam cu 
Yo anggam cu a madammat a suerte

Cuppat a bucal
Cuppat a inanaman
Cuppat a bucal yo innac a imula
Yo mangiada si allac nga ira yo pattolayan
Nattufu,naddam, napangga, nallappao
Udde menangque nabbunga.

I compare thee to a flower, 
A ray of light that gives inspiration -
More so if you give me your attention. 
Love comes in many forms from the young'
Which I am expecting every morning and afternoon 
In my native town.

Songs that convey what I feel -
A love that caused such a burden and pain;
The four seeds I have sown
Which are my only hope.

Dried seed,
Dried hope, 
Dried seed that I may plant, 
That perchance your charm may let grow. 
It grew, it climbed, it branched, it bloomed
But never did it bear fruit.

Most of the legends culled by Lumicao-Lora from Gaddang elders appear to have gained currency during the Spanish period, like the legend of Battalan, an old diviner from Bayombong, and the legend of the huge snake, which alludes to the Immaculate Concepcion which has sole power over this snake. However, there are legends that may date back to pre-Spanish times like the tale about the origin of the Magat River.
Magat was a handsome and strong-willed youth who saved a lovely maiden bathing in a stream from the clutches of a python.  He proposed marriage to the woman, who consented on condition that Magat would swear not to see her at noon.  One day, Magat could no longer contain his curiosity and broke into his wife's seclusion.  In place of his wife, he saw a crocodile, who turned into his wife.  "You broke your promise," lamented the woman. "  I can no longer be happy.  Thus, I must now die."  Having said this, she slowly turned once more into a crocodile and died.  After burying his crocodile-wife in his frontyard, Magat drowned himself in the same stream where he first espied her.  Over time, the stream grew into the mighty Magat River.  It widens and grows, it is said, because Magat wants to claims the remains of the wife he buried in the heart of town.
A hero in the mold of Biwag and Malana is Bayun, who chases the marauding Ifugao back to the mountains and rids the people of Isabela of a malefactor.  In another tale, Mambag, a giant, is the antagonist who is defeated by a superb display of community cooperation, which forces him to retreat to his cave where he eventually meets his end.  Another tale about the Magat River tells of a kingdom of mermaids.
The epic of Biwag and Malana presents two of the Gaddang's greatest culture heroes, who after crossing the seas from Sumarta (probably Sumatra) with their mothers, landed in Faru (Aparri, Cagayan).  In this tale, Biwag and Malana are sons of the earth god Bunag and the sea god Limat by Beling and Casta, daughters of the Queen of Sumatra.  The queen discovers the alliance and banishes her daughters and their sons.  In Faru they are welcomed by the Gaddang, who adopt Biwag and Malana as their own and assure the mothers of the new home.  The two demigods grow up into courageous young men, who subdue a crocodile before it is able to devour a woman.  One day they watch the chieftain's daughter Reling, bathing in the stream.  Malana threatens the maiden's virtue.  To defend her from Malana, Biwag fights his cousin.  They hurl trees and rocks at each other.  Later, they prove themselves as assets to the tribe when they trounce the traditional Gaddang enemy, the Ilongot, with their bare hands.  They also kill a bothersome giant.  The time comes when their fathers warn them that they must prepare for a battle that would be bigger than anything they had previously fought.  After concealing the women and children, the cousins lead the Gaddang to victorious combat against thousands of enemies.
The epic provides many clues to the Gaddang psyche.  Gaddang hospitality is well portrayed by the people's acceptance of the disgraced princesses and their sons.  Other virtues conveyed by the epic are reverence for elders and leaders, a deep sense of justice, a respect for and adherence to law, a well-developed sense of goodwill and brotherhood, a sense of humor, responsibility, courage and bravery, honor and integrity, atonement and retribution, utang-na-loob or debt of gratitude, a high regard for women,   and a respect for the dignity of human beings.

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Performing Arts

  Traditional musical instruments of the Gaddang include the gangsa, a series of flat gongs like those of the Cordillera groups, which, when resting on the laps of the instrumentalists, are beaten with the hands, or, played with sticks while dancing.  Another instrument is the bamboo guitar called dulating or gulating.  Scott (1969) credits the Gaddang for having introduce the nose flute to the Mountain Province in the early 1900s.
The world of the Gaddang is encapsulated in songs, most of which originated from poetry of uncertain authorship.  The melodies for these poems were composed over the years by various musicians, notably Francisco Panganiban, Jose Daguingan, Francisco Bulan, Orlando Maddela, Severo Labog, Tranquilino Basat, and Jack Labog.
Occupational songs cover a range of activities, from noble toil to virtual sloth.  The mark of Gaddang machismo distinguishes "Don Don Simon"  (Mr Simon), which speaks of the challenges and rewards of hunting.  "Aggani" (Harvesting) pays similar tribute to manual work besides evoking the Filipino bayanihan spirit.  Conversely, the fisherfolk's song "Sasarabet" (Hear Ye) condems theft while "Bambal Sosao"  (Careless Washing)  chastises the inept housewife.  Favorite pastimes take some time away from the daily grind.  For instance, there are songs that reflect a devotion to cockfighting.  Note one example.  "Na Manucca Bordon"  (My Bearded Rooster) (Lumicao-Lora 1984:47):

Ana manuccu bordon
Siniggutancu si liston
Innangcu netarit
Nangaffut si tatalapit.

I have a bearded rooster;
I tied it with a ribbon;
I brought it to a derby
It won fifty centavos.

The Gaddang celebrate life with music.  Simple and enduring melodies are among their earliest memories of childhood, since the education of the child partly begins with nursery rimes.  Ignorance is ridiculed and the value of learning emphasized in "Ang Tan Y Bangan"  (There is Bagan).  The lullaby "Angngiduduc" articulates maternal love and commitment.  To inculcate identity is the object of the songs "Matatagat A Urena"  (Hardheaded), which describes the proverbial Gaddang will power, and "Atta Cami" (We Are Aeta), which gives due recognition to Gaddang ancestry.  "Inte Pagadwe"  (Counting Song) teaches basic arithmetic and "Saquiting" (Small Children) helps the child develop speech.  For enjoyment children sing tunes like "Ite Ite Gangarite" (One, Two, Get Set).  However, for those to whom childhood is an overprized season, songs often express self-pity as in "Una Ulila"  (An Orphan) and "Lalay Na Itatanac" (Song of an Only Child).
Love seems to descend on the Gaddang youth more as pain than pleasure. Self-pity is a persistent thme in the love songs. "Abumbu Ca Appatanca O Tutuc" (You Are Too Much of My Heart) and "Me Patay Lamang Gumafu Sicuam" (To Die Just Because of You) are among the many songs that bemoan the fate of tormented lovers. Moreover, songs like "Bersu Na Angga-Anggam" (Verses of Love) and "Mabeling (Enchanting) tend to be self-depreciating. The Gaddang abhor infidelity, and "Na Siggarafung" (The Moth) uses the moth-to-the-flame analogy to warn against the great romantic tragedy. This is only confirmed when love-inflicted bitterness is immortalized in "Ope Manggue Nahi" (Where is it, Sister?) and "Quelona Immanque A Quirraquiragan" (How Painful It is To Ponder), which is quoted below (Luminao-Lora 1984:29):

Quelona a quiraquiragan
Yo radam mepintac to taggang
Se mapia quepay ino tappiay
Amma so raddam na cassittolay.

Gannot na wara gumammuang nga
Si parac onnu pacandama
Se datangna no aruedana
Ipamannum na se awanna cuana.

How painful it is to realize
The grief that fills my breast, 
Poison is preferable
To ill will from another.

If this is caused
By the accidents of wealth and power,
The wheel will somehow turn
And fortunes will change.

Gaddang theater with Spanish influence is represented by komedya which has been performed in Nabuan, Santiago, Isabela since the turn of the century, where it was believed to have been introduced by the Ibanaag. Four komedya have been performed in Isabela since decades ago, and  two of them are Prinsepe Leodevico and Prinsepe Rodrigo. Hermitanio Botol was one in the four generations of directors who have handled the komedya. Today, the komedya features red breeches, shirts, bands, and capes for the Moors, and green or blue attire for the Christians. The marches are accompanied by a band consisting of clarinet, saxophone, drums, trombone, mandolin, and banjo. Performances are held in front of houses or on the street during the town fiesta.  D.V. Javier, M.P. Consing, C. Hila, W.R. Torralba, R. P. Santos. With notes from E. A. Manuel.

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Casal, gabriel, Regalado Trota Jose Jr, Eric S. Casino, George R. Ellis, and Wilhelm G. Solheim II. The People and Art of the Philippines. Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, 1981.
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Lambrecht, Godfrey, "The Gaddang of Isabela and Nueva Viscaya: Survivals of Primitive and Animistic Religion." Philippine Studies, Vol VII, No 2 (Apr 1958).

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________________. "Survival of Ancient Gaddang Animistic Religion." Journal of Northern Luzon, Vol I No 1, (Jul 1970).

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Scott, William Henry. On the Cordillera. Manila: MCS Enterprises, 1969.

Wallace, Ben J. Shifting Cultivation and Plow Agriculture in Two Pagan Gaddang Settlements. National Institute of Science and Technology, 1970.

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