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Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Churya-a, Kidla-a": A Glimpse of the Bontoc Culture

Note: A fellow Igorot in Hongkong (see comments) made the following corrections: The title of the song is "KHAWAN NAN FATAWA," not "Churya-a, Kidla-a" as I mistakenly assumed.  The first stanza should also read:  Khawan nan Fatawa-a, wad-ay nan wanga-a, En ched-che-mang is-sa-a, Nan chey cha’y sin-ag-ya-a, Nan yun-a si Chulya-a, ‘Nuchi na si Kidla-a. Chulya-a, Kidla-a, Chad-ama nan layad cha -- not "Khawan nan fataw'a-a, Wad-ay nan wanga-a, Enched-che-mang is-sa-a, Nan chuwa ay sin-ag-i-a, Nan yun-a si Kidla-a, 'Nochi na si Churya-a, En-asi il-ila cha, Churya-a, Kidla-a, Ya kumchang nan layad cha" as I formerly put. The rest of the song should be corrected as she noted below (will effect all other corrections in the next few days >:  ). Finally, this reader gave a very important detail about the song -- its composer, a certain Roman Catholic nun "Sr. Ludivica."  The relationship of Christianity and Igorot culture has been confrontational in some ways  which has led to the lamentable jettisoning of what should be preserved of the latter, but this song evidences one of the ways in which Christianity has helped preserve and/or refine certain aspects of traditional culture.

I always welcome corrections on any mistakes, misinformation, or misrepresentation anyone can find in any of my posts.  Thanks! :)


I had just played Lourdes Fangki's rendition of "Layad Nen Likhatan" when my mom started singing an ethnic tune I had not heard before.  Although her once operatic voice is now weak and slightly cracked (thanks to a major stroke 10 years ago that that almost rendered her totally hemiplegic), her words came out quite clearly.

"Churya-a... Kidla-a..." She kept going back to these two words and each time, she'd add more words as flashes of remembrance illumined her now fastly fading memory.  More lyrics poured out from her lips and I began to catch on and sing with her.  I took notes fast, knowing that an hour or so later a memory lapse will once again frustrate me from drawing out bits of knowledge from her time. We put the words together, and she began to translate the words as well as to explain several details of the Bontoks' beliefs and customs.

She recalled that it was the mamadli (nuns) who taught her the song "issan kaong-onga mi" (when we were young).  She had lived in a convent as part of her early schooling in Bontoc, and as part of her initiation into the Catholic faith. She paid her school fees and also helped in the daily chores at her school.  At the same time, she was under the parentage of Ama and Ina Dacyon to whom she was entrusted by her father Magkachi when she was a sickly girl of three.  It was a common belief then that a child's prolonged or recurring illness was caused by a malevolent anito (spirit) of s/her clan.  Tapno matago (to give her a greater chance of survival), the child would be taken to a family of another tribe or clan ("ay sabali nan anito da" - which had a different guardian spirit) for adoption in hopes  that the good anito of the foster family would ensure the child's physical well-being.

Back to the song. This responsorial melody talks of a man (Kidla-a, representing the village of Samoki) and a woman (Churya-a, representing the village of Bontok), beckoning each other to wade across the wanga (the Chico river) that separates  them. Although as arranged here the man speaks first, it may have been the case that when first sung it was the woman who would call out first since in the old Bontok society it was the woman who initiated courtship  by going to the house of the man, taking with her a love token  which may come in the form of a bundle of pakhey (rice), sweet potato tops, and others.  As further evidence of her commitment to him (and, perhaps, her readiness for the responsibilities of motherhood), "nan fafai umey en'ange' wenno tumulong iska afong nan lalaki (the woman gathers camote tops and helps in the other chores of the man's family).

Later, due to the influences of Western and lowland Philippine cultures, men began to do the courting first, a behavioral or cultural shift reflected in the change in the "modern" arrangement of the song where Kidla gets to invite Churya first to cross the river over to Samoki.  This is supposed to be a romantic song, but the idea that a sin-ag-i (brother and sister) are lovers is an affront to the taboo system of the Bontoc society  in which among blood relatives, siblings did not marry although first cousins did.  So if it is to be treated as a love song, "Churya - a, Kidla-a" must be about courting cousins. On the other hand, it may be seen simply as a playful  exchange of invitations between two friends or siblings.

Note that the first line hints at the ethnocentric worldview of the Bontoc society. This mindset is partly illustrated by some old folks regarding Fabfey, a sitio in Bontoc, as the home of the "pure-blooded" ifontok while denigrating neighboring Luk'ong as the place for the "mixed people" -- the kaili (outsiders), tap-ina ay takho (other people) -- like the iyappay (of the Aplai tribe) or isadanga (of the Sadanga tribe).


Khawan nan fataw’a-a

[in the middle of the world]

Wad'ay nan wanga-a

[there is a river.]

Enchedchemang issa-a

[facing each other]

Nan chey cha’y sin-ag-ya-a,

[are two siblings]

Nan yun'a si Chulya-a

[the elder/brother being Chulya-a]

‘Nuchi na si Kidla-a

the younger/sister being Churya-a]

Churya-a, Kidla-a

Chad-ama nan layad cha


[Kidla-a speaks:]

Churya-a, Churya-a

Alika ad Kidla-a

[come to Kidla-a]

Liwid ko ad Churya-a

[my friend from/of Churya-a]

En asi lal-ayad ta

[and we will be loving each other]

[Churya-a replies:]

Liwid ko ad Kidla-a

Ad'i kagchang nan wanga-a

[the river can’t be crossed]

Chakchake nan chanum ya

[the river is swollen]

Maanod'ak issa-a

[I may be taken away by the flood]

Alika ad Churya-a

[come to Churya-a]


Tak'en mo siyassa-a

[even if that is so/the case (i.e., that the river can't be crossed)]

En asi il-ila/lal-ayad ta

[we will see/love each other anyhow]

Liwid ko ad Churya-a

[my friend at/from Churya-a]


Churya-a, Kidla-a

Ya kumchang nan layad cha

[their love wades/crosses over (either bank)]


Ke ka sumasanga-a

[why be glum/why look so listless]

Et ta ensasag'en ya

[we're beside/near each other, are we not?]

Alika ad Kidla-a

[Come to Kidla-a]

Liwid ko, kumchang kas na.

[My friend, come over here]


Churya-a, Kidla-a

Ya kumchang nan layad cha

[their love is crossing over]

* Corrections are welcome :)


CHing pentas:D said...


halow, halow halow..... awan ay mangkontakak ken cka..............idi paylang kayat ko aglift ti writings mo ta i guest ko cka dya exponent.....

Now.... i don't have anything in this damn head hehehe.. so ikabil ko daytoy churya-a , kidlaa wen.. hanmu idardarum cyak hehehehe uray ket kabil ko nga guest ko cka:D

wen manong? wen........ jejejeje

text me: 09298623323

syak lang met m------- ni ching:d

p.s pls chat mo cyak maminsan ta agpatulong ak ti thesis ko man.....:d

scott saboy said...

aba nakalagip nga agsurat ni chinggay... ay ibaggat (lift kunam e hehe) mo latta no anya magustuam ditoy blog tau, siguro kabil mo lang jay URL na jay particular article nga ipublish m. :) kitam ketdi no adda kamali na jay lyrics ti "Churya-a, Kidla-a" tapno maikorehir tau ta mejo nalipalipatanen ni mama. aye, enthesis ka pet et gayam aya? bengga ka. sak-en ya adik ammo, away talaga'y next next year et ay marpas ko huhu... chat ta intono marpas nan finals mi. super-aginbibusy ak edwani ya. this sem break i'd like to start working on the "Laoshi" project and i surely will be needing your help (as well as Andy's) ta you got good recollection of our Chiner days. ammoyo metten talaga ay namintakeng ay kabaw ak :) no waday to kabalinanna, umeyakto inbisita ed Huludao, Qinghuangdao, Huailai santo Beijing (especially Dongzhimen! hehe) tapno direcho ay maisuratko nan story tako (fictionalized, of course). great to hear from you again etad, pengyou, tongzhi. ganbei!

CHing pentas:D said...

MAnong,nong.nong.nog.nong jejeje...hehehehe.... next to haket ikabil url wen.. wani kanak lang ay u work at UP:d am i right....... waaaaaaa nu umey ka cd da mitakin akkkkkkkkkkkkk hehehehehehe. kakamiss pa rin ang chiner...

just text me when u are nut agin bibisi et hehehe....


scott saboy said...

eyssh, sika met no big deal. wen ya. ammom, makikicorrespond piman san nen-"christen" ken sak-en ay "Long Fei" -- da Joice ken Ceasar ed Hua Gong. malay mo, waday chans tako ages ay umey. uray 1 week koma anggay aya? hehe wen text text to :) zhu ni ping an!

luz HK said...

cho san!Apo Scott. Nan nangisulo snan KHAWAN NAN FATAWA ya composer nan kanta ay nay si late Sr. Ludivica, I.C.M. in the 1920's. Wad-ay angkay akit ay corrections. Khawan nan Fatawa-a, wad-ay nan wanga-a, En ched-che-mang is-sa-a, Nan chey cha'y sin-ag-ya-a, Nan yun-a si Chulya-a, 'Nuchi na si Kidla-a. Chulya-a, Kidla-a, Chad-ama nan layad cha.

luz HK said...

'Nuchi ay Kidla-a, keka sumasanga-a
ya ke ta'n chedchemang ya-a,
chaita'y sin agya-a,
ali ka ad chulya-a,
ta enfub uweg ta-a
Kidla-a, kidla-a,
kumchyang ka s'nad chulya-a.

Yun-ak ay si Chulya-a,
ad-i kag-chang nan wanga-a,
aya ka nan chanom ya-a,
ma-anud ak issa-a,
taken mo kagtuna-a,
en asi lalayad ta-a.
chulya-a, kidla-a,
ya komchang nan layad ta-a.

Apo Scott, I'll be in touch..........bye......

scott saboy said...

Ay at last, wad-ay additional info on this song. Khawan nan Fatawa pet nan title na, hehe sori. Will make the necessary correction manang. salasalamat! :)