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HIST3: Mangyan Spiritual Beliefs and Practices

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Alaine Vicedor

on 10 August 2013

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Transcript of HIST3: Mangyan Spiritual Beliefs and Practices

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
MANGYAN
Spiritual Beliefs and Practices
Since the Mangyans are swidden farmers,
their spiritual beliefs are related to their
means of livelihood. Agricultural rites
suggest the importance of farming and
the belief in spiritual beings or forces that
can influence a good harvest.

The Mangyan world is controlled by a
complex of omni-present spiritual forces.
These spirits are the good and the bad.
They greatly influences their everyday way
of life and colorfully exemplified by their rites and ceremonies. To an observer, these may be irrational or looks strange, but for the Mangyans, these are important aspects of their life.

They have a method of selecting swidden rites. They use no maps or calendars, but simply let themselves be guided by botanical criteria that are flexible and highly relevant to their purposes.
The method is encumbered with rituals because for the mangyans “land” is not only a source of “livelihood” but is also “sacred”.


THE UNIVERSE AND ITS SUPERNATURAL
AND MORTAL BEINGS
The Hanunoo Mangyan believe in a Supreme Being who is referred to as the
Mahal na Makaako
, who gave life to all human beings merely by gazing at them.
They believe that the universe, called
sinukuban
("that which is covered") or
kalibutan
("the whole surrounding") has a globular shape "like a coconut". All beings, visible or invisible, live in this space. The stratum of the earth is called the
usa ka daga
. The daga (land) is surrounded by a border area, which is dagat (sea). Beyond the dagat is the
katapusan
, the edge of the universe, covered with thick woods and rocks. Nothing lies beyond it.
This is also the home of the
labang
or the horrible creatures and evil spirits greatly feared by the Hanunoo. The
labang
can take on animal and human forms before killing and eating their victims. They are believed to roam the areas they used to frequent during their mortal existence until they move on to dwell in
Binayi's garden
, where all spirits rest.
Binayi
is a sacred female spirit, caretaker of the rice spirits or the
kalag paray
. She is married to the spirit
Bulungabon
who is aided by 12 fierce dogs. Erring souls are chased by these dogs are eventually drowned in a caldron of boiling water. The
kalag paray
must be appeased, to ensure a bountiful harvest. It is for this reason that specific rituals are conducted in every phase of rice cultivation. Some of these rituals include the
panudlak
, the rite of the first planting; the rite of rice planting itself; and the rites of harvesting which consist of the
magbugkos
or binding rice stalks, and the
pamag-uhan
, which follows the harvest.
Batangan
cosmogony is less clear. They believe in four deities, who are all naked. Two come from the sun and are male; two come from the upper part of the river and are female. They are believed to be children (Kikuchi 1984: 7). The
paragayan
or diolang plates play an important role in Batangan religious practices. These plates are owned by only a few families, and are considered heirlooms. They are essential in summoning the deities to all religious and curing rituals (Kikuchi 1984: 7).
The Opposition between Space and Life upon and beneath the Earth’s surface is another basic feature of the Mangyan society. The ancestors called
Parawan
live under the surface, in the "underworld". They are the dead who received complete funerals and who crossed the different spaces where their progressive transformation into ancestors was carried out. Other ancestors, the benevolent
Daniw
, live in stones located near springs and big trees in the forest before they become linked to a ritual specialist who then will build them a house.
The ancestors of the earth, thunder, and earthquake live at the foot of the tree, which supports the earth. The ancestors of water live mostly in the springs on the surface that do not dry up during the dry season. There, the malevolent spirits (
labang
) wander through the forests and around nearby springs in search of human flesh.
SPIRITUAL BURIAL TRADITIONS
AND RITUALS
The
Hanunuos
have two burial occasions. The first takes place soon after death. The second after a year or two years when the bones have to be exhumed. They believe that
Mahal na Makaako
has a son called
Presidents
who executes his father's command. They also believe in evil spirits and in immortality.
The
Pangutkutan
or “
kutkot
” ritual is the Hanunuos’ tradition of bringing the dead back to life. A Filipino word for "scratch" or "unearth," it entails dressing up the remains of the dead in cloth so that they take on a human form again.
For some,
kutkot
is an obligation that their members must perform, in keeping with clan practice or honoring a dead relative's request.



(Reuters) - Members of the Hanunuo Mangyan tribe in the Philippines do not leave their dead in the grave for long, digging up the remains of loved ones in an unusual revival ritual that itself is slowly dying out.
A year after tribesman Hulyong Antonio was buried, six of his children and other relatives travelled to his grave and unearthed his coffin to perform Pangutkutan.
"This man told his children, 'Whatever happens to me, you have to do the kutkot ritual, in the same way that you did for your mother,'" Baryos Gawid, Antonio's nephew, said.

The family members cleaned the skeleton, then wrapped the parts in a large cloth. The ritual involves an elaborate process of draping the cloth around the bones in such a way that it resembles a sort of mannequin, called a "sinakot."
A year after tribesman Hulyong Antonio was buried, six of his children and other relatives travelled to his grave and unearthed his coffin to perform Pangutkutan.
"This man told his children, 'Whatever happens to me, you have to do the kutkot ritual, in the same way that you did for your mother,'" Baryos Gawid, Antonio's nephew, said.

The family members cleaned the skeleton, then wrapped the parts in a large cloth. The ritual involves an elaborate process of draping the cloth around the bones in such a way that it resembles a sort of mannequin, called a "sinakot."

Only a few Mangyans have mastered this skill. The cloth must be tied taut with a string and bulked in certain areas to create a human shape, much like a mummy, only in this case wrapped after the corpse is exhumed.
"To this day, we have not forgotten our culture. It has remained alive," said Bapa Amando, one of Antonio's children.

To humanize the sinakot, family members dress up the bulked up remains with clothes and jewelry, with each son or daughter making a contribution.
A year after his death, Hulyong Antonio was welcomed back in his village with the sound of gongs and a

traditional dance.

The family keeps the remains in a hut for about a year, then transfers them to a cave, where other "sinakot" are housed. As more Hanunuo Mangyans migrate from Mindoro's coastal villages to search for jobs in cities, rituals like kutkot are fading, along with other unique cultural practices.

"The younger members of the tribe are not interested in performing this ancient ritual of ours. They don't know how to do it," Gawid said.
The survival of ethnic communities in the Philippines is threatened by industrial developments such as mining, logging and commercial plantations encroaching their ancestral land.


Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/02/01/us-philippines-tribe-idUSTRE6105D420100201


by Michaela Cabrera
MANILA | Mon Feb 1, 2010 3:02pm EST
MEC students perform the pangutkutan, a Hanunuo Mangyan burial ritual. This occasion includes the reciting of ambahan poetry and dancing of the taruk, the Hanunuo Mangyan dance accompanied by the agong (gong).
MEC stude
nts perform the pangutkutan, a Hanunuo Mangyan
burial ritual. This
occasion includes the reciting of ambahan
poetry and dancing of the taruk, the Hanunuo
Mangyan d
ance accompanied by the
agong (gong).
The Daniw Ritual
The
daniw
ancestors help the ritual specialist to see non-humans such as malevolent spirits, life-principles, and ancestors. The role of the ritual specialist is to maintain and safeguard relations within the socio-cosmos. For example, when a person falls sick, the ritual specialist, assisted by his daniw ancestors, searches for the life-principle than has been taken away by a malevolent spirit or by an angry ancestor.
The
daniw
ancestors then talk to the life-principle of the sick person and try to restore it to the body of the invalid who, if newly completed, recovers. In case of failure, the person dies and the specialist and his daniw ancestors have to accompany the life-principle to the place of the dead at a tree high above the ground.
CRIMINAL PUNISHMENT
Any criminal act or offense done is corrected with the use of either the
pangaw
or
tige
.
Pangaw
is the Iraya's version of the detention cell.
Tige
on the other hand is a punishment wherein the suspects of a particular offense are called and are ordered to immerse their right hand in a pot of boiling water to pick up the white stone at the bottom of the pot. Anyone of the suspects whose right hand gets burned is considered to be the guilty party. It is believed that the innocent parties will not get burned in this particular test because Apo Iraya will protect them from harm.
Ambahan
Ambahan is a rhythmic poetic expression with a meter of seven syllable lines and having rhythmic end-syllables. It is most often presented as a chant without a determined musical pitch or accompaniment by musical instruments. Its purpose is to express in an allegorical way, liberally using poetic language, certain situations or certain characteristics referred to by the one reciting the poem.
As a specific literary piece of art, the ambahan may be short (two lines) of long (over 100 lines). Each line has even syllables, ending with rhyme (-an, -a, -i, -u) from beginning to the end henceforth creating a stably harmonious sounding expression. Its language is archaic; there are words that are proper only to ambahan and not used for conversational language.
The choice of word or symbol is important to the Mangyan poet, because the behavior of the character of the symbolic figure (bird, fish, plant) portrays the aesthetic reasoning and drama in the ambahan. The Mangyan poet will not mention himself as “I” but will talk about “My bird”, “My house” and so forth. This allows the fable-lization of the main character in the ambahan by telling the stories about the plant, an animal. A thing or man.
For centuries, the ambahan way of poetic expression and literary play has outlived many generations of Mangyans, and has continuously constituted the Mangyan poetic imagination and world view. In fact, an ambahan poem can be regarded as a symbol per se of the Mangyan situation. As an indigenous literary art, the ambahan symbols are more important authorship itself. No Mangyan will claim authorship of an ambahan poem.
Ambahan 261:

Kanmi bay paglabagab (Our house, so sweet gentle home)
Kawo no ud katim-an (More than you have ever known)
Padi nga sitay adngan ( Not here, where ayes have then shown)
Luwas way lugayawan (Beyond heaven’s horizon)
May takip waya amyan (Further than the wind has blown)
Alintapukan uran (Away from whistling storm)

In the ambahan, we see an integrated eco-centric life, where the people is part of the whole ecosystem. The symbols of the ambahans reveal that life is sufficient and sustainable, despite vulnerability and scarcity. Food is shared and not taken to enrich oneself at the expense of others. Work is also shared and not with fruits of helping one another (kabanan). In sickness, the Mangyan is not alone. The good spirit of nature guides, protects and overcomes the power of evil in frailty. In travel, it better to walk together, like the father leading his son to his farmland.
As such, the ambahan reveals what should be valued in life, what constitutes well being in the community, what maintains faith in their eco-spiritual horizon, and what can be hoped for in the midst of frialty. The fundamental themes and polarities built on the universal metaphors of Ayad and Daot, are accepted and sustained as a balance.
Sources:
Verein
Archiv 57/58 "Freunde der Völkerkunde"
http://www.books.google.com.ph

http://www.agrobuti.net/tasaday.html

http://mamburao.gov.ph/cultureandtourism.do?id=8802

http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/02/01/us-philippines-tribe-idUSTRE6105D420100201
for the news article

http://www.nordis.net/?p=8980

http://www.mangyan.org/content/introduction-ambahan
http://www.jacobimages.com/2012/12/the-mangyan-of-mindoro
for the background and pictures
Presented by:
Alaine D. Vicedor
& Caryl G. Apolinario
Thank you! :)
Full transcript