by: Faye Velasco
word "Tinguian" may have been derived from the Malay word "tinggi," which
means mountain or highlands, and may have been coined during the early
Spanish period. As used by the Spanish colonizers, the word used to refer
to all mountain people or hill tribes in the entire archipelago, living
in places such as Zambales, Bohol, Basilan, and Mindanao. It was only later
that the term was used exclusively for the mountain-dwelling people of
Abra, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte.
The term "Itneg" has come to be used synonymously with "Tinguian." The word, according to one interpretation, is derived from "iti uneg," which literally means "the interior." Or it could have been derived from the combination of the prefix "I-," which indicates a place of origin, and the name of a major river and geographical area, "Tineg." The Tinguian have always thought of themselves and the other highland dwellers of the Cordilleras 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 region covered by the original Tinguian population is significant. Azurin (1991) has echoed the earlier contention of the anthropologist Cole that certain pueblos in the Ilocos region "recognized as Ilocano are but Christianized Tinguian." 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. It is significant to note that the Spaniards used synonymous terms in referring to the highland dwellers of Abra (the Tinguian), and of the mountain provinces. The latter became known as the Ygorotes or "people from the mountain range". Tinguian territory is bounded on the North by the Ilocos Norte, on the West by Ilocos Sur, on the South by Bangued, and on the East by Kalinga-Apayao. The Tinguian are mainly in the towns of Tubo, San Quintin, Luba, and Buliney in Abra (Peralta 1988:13). They number around 57,000.
before the coming of the Spanish colonizers, Tinguian settlements were
already in the place along the coastal region of Ilocos Sur, specially
the Narvacan Area southward to Santa Cruz. One theory has it that the Tinguian
originated from the coastal areas, 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, may have encountered Aeta who inhabited the
region called the Apayao. Those who intermarried with these Aeta came to
be called Isneg, an ethno-linguistic 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.
first mention of the Itneg as a distinct group comes from the "ub-ubuk."
These are the genealogical accounts told in connection with funeral rites.
These recall the migration of the Itneg of Ilocos Sur to Abra several hundred
years ago, following an encounter with the invading Spanish forces.
|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 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.|
agricultural life of the Tinguian suffered from the introduction of Virginia
Tobacco in the 1960s. The attention of farmers was focused on the raising
of this cash crop rather that 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 geo-political unit is known today as the Cordillera Administrative Region used to be composed of the province 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.
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.
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 completed 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).
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 to a supernatural 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
her 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.
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" (Samonte-Madrid 1977:438).
playing is basically a rhythmic ensemble performance. There are different
ways of playing the flat gongs, using hand, 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, kulitong) 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 palpadeng (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 6 to 7 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 or 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 rime scheme is free verse, with a preponderant use of the terminals am, em, en, an.
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, actual 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, dal-leng, dango, diwas, 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 am-maga 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 or 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 s popular Itneg folktale. The buddo-buddo 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 king of bird. The story says that her parents left Tikgi, so she wonders 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 riming 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 wedding, 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 wedding:
one after the other (2x)
This is a rice-pounding song for funerals:
one after the other
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 "lullaby") 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.
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