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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Hope-filled New Year!

A TV report says that 92% of Filipinos have a positive outlook for the new year. Great!  Let's keep hoping for better things to come! :)

Ilocano: Naragsak nga Baro a Tawen!

Kalinga (Banao): Nalagsak un bvyalo un tawon u amin!

Bikolnon: Maogmang ba'gong taon!

In other languages...*

Afghani - Saale Nao Mubbarak

Afrikaans - Gelukkige Nuwe Jaar

Albanian - Gezuar Vitin e Ri

Armenian - Snorhavor Nor Tari

Arabic - Antum Salimoun

Assyrian - Sheta Brikhta

Azeri - Yeni Iliniz Mubarek

Bengali - Shuvo Nabo Barsho

Bulgarian - ×Åñòèòà Íîâà Ãîäèíà (pronounced "Chestita Nova Godina")

Cambodian - Soursdey Chhnam Tmei


Chinese - Xin Nian Kuai Le

Croatian - Sretna Nova Godina

Cymraeg (Welsh) - Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Czechoslovakia - Scastny Novy Rok

Danish - Godt Nytår

Dutch - Gelukkig Nieuwjaar

Eskimo - Kiortame pivdluaritlo

Estonians - Head uut aastat

Ethiopian - Melkam Addis Amet Yihuneliwo

Finnish - Onnellista Uutta Vuotta

French - Bonne Annee

Galician [Northwestern Spain] - Bo Nadal e Feliz Aninovo

German - Prosit Neujahr

Greek - Kenourios Chronos

Gujarati - Nutan Varshbhinandan

Hawaiian - Hauoli Makahiki Hou

Hebrew - L'Shannah Tovah

Hindi - Naye Varsha Ki Shubhkamanyen

Hong Kong - (Cantonese) Sun Leen Fai Lok

Hungarian - Boldog Ooy Ayvet

Indonesian - Selamat Tahun Baru

Iranian - Saleh now mobarak

Iraqi - Sanah Jadidah

Irish - Bliain nua fe mhaise dhuit

Italian - Felice anno nuovo

Japanese - Akimashite Omedetto Gozaimasu

Kannada - Hosa Varushadha Shubhashayagalu

Korea - Saehae Bock Mani ba deu sei yo

Kurdish - Newroz Pirozbe

Lithuanian - Laimingu Naujuju Metu

Laotian - Sabai dee pee mai

Macedonian - Srekjna Nova Godina

Malay - Selamat Tahun Baru

Marathi - Naveen Varshachy Shubhechcha

Malayalam - Puthuvatsara Aashamsakal

Nepal - Nawa Barsha ko Shuvakamana

Norwegian - Godt Nyttår

Papua New Guinea - Nupela yia i go long yu

Persian - Saleh now ra tabrik migouyam

Philippines - Manigong Bagong Taon

Polish - Szczesliwego Nowego Roku

Portuguese - Feliz Ano Novo

Punjabi - Nave saal di mubarak

Romanian - An nou fericit

Russian - S Novim Godom

Sindhi - Nayou Saal Mubbarak Hoje

Singhalese - Subha auth awrudhak vewa

Spanish - Feliz Ano Nuevo

Swahili - Heri Za Mwaka Mpya

Sudanese - Warsa Enggal

Tamil - Inniya Puthaandu Nalvazhthukkal

Telegu - Noothana samvatsara Shubhakankshalu

Thai - Sawadee Pee Mai

Turkish - Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun

Ukrainian - Shchastlyvoho Novoho Roku

Urdu - Naya Saal Mubbarak Ho

Uzbek - Yangi Yil Bilan

Vietnamese - Chuc Mung Tan Nien

* lifted from


"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

- Benjamin Franklin

A Year of Blogging

A year in blogosphere has offered me a way to explore some more my creative self.  It also gave me the privilege of interacting with old friends, making new friends, and perhaps making new enemies (?), and learning from many across the continents. :)

Notwithstanding what Dr. Steve W. Price has to say about blogging --
"Aint Too Proud to Blog!"

"Blogs: A WWW.Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"

"For Bloggers, No Standards Is a Good Standard"

"I Blog, Therefore I Am"

-- I still say, "I luv bloooooggging!!!"  :)


Let me thank all of you who visited this site, especially those who posted their comments.  I hope to improve this site and make it more useful to all interested parties.


I also wish to thank my wife for trying mighty hard to keep up with my passion for reading and writing.  She has never complained when I could not help in housekeeping at those times when I was glued to my books , the computer, or the ceiling.  For this and for many other things, dakul na pasasalamat, agum! :)

Tabuk Revisited (II): Something New

Some things have changed in Tabuk -- for good or ill.

Culture & Religion

1. Our waiting sheds now look beautiful with ethnic belts painted around their posts, just like this one:

[caption id="attachment_2103" align="aligncenter" width="413" caption="sms photo"]sms photo[/caption]

2. There's this shop housing cultural artifacts, many of which were made by the shop owner, Mr. Pablo Bawer, one of the Province's cultural masters. I have just come to know about it although it has been there a long time already, just a block away from our house...

[caption id="attachment_2104" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="sms photo"]sms photo[/caption]

All his products are "treated" and seasoned.  Each of his shields take a year to make (including seasoning period).

3. Christmas carols are something we can't do away with.  The musical instruments  for caroling shown below which are made of recycled materials may not be new to many of my townmates, but they surely are new to me:

[caption id="attachment_2105" align="aligncenter" width="499" caption="Taken at the gate of the city mayor's residence. Speaks volumes of the ingenuity of the Filipino! :) - sms photo"])[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2106" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="sms photo"]sms photo[/caption]

4. The St. William's Cathedral has become more beautiful.  Friends say the construction of the new  Catholic church building was begun during the stint of Fr. Carlito Cenzon, now the Bishop of Baguio.  The Church has a new assistant priest, a long-time friend, Froilan Pangda.  I was also informed by manong Fred Pangsiw, an Anglican priest and cultural master, that the Cathedral is home to Kalinga's "School of Living Traditions" where young and old alike get to learn more about their own culture.

[caption id="attachment_2107" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="sms photo"]sms photo[/caption]


There are newly established Christian churches, many of which are of the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition. Islam has also gained a foothold in the area, as this minaret now piercing the sky of Dagupan, the government seat of the City, shows.



There are several new faces in the city and provincial governments.  And there are also new luxury cars for some of our local officials, thanks to the city's bigger share of the IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment).  If only they used the people's money to buy more garbage trucks instead, or to build MRFs (Materials Recovery Facilities)...

For three decades, I had never seen the street fronting our house cemented, only filled with gravel and sand year in and year out.  Now, it's concreted -- well, except the section across the main gate of the mayor's residence hehe...  Ain't sure though when the rest of the streets two more blocks from our house would be cemented; if it will take one political administration to do it, it would be a miracle! :


And oh, by the way, our neighbor has found a new hobby -- golfing.   He seems engrossed with it so much, proof of which are my two sisters' collection of more than a dozen golf balls that have whizzed over  from his side of our wall for these past few past months.  No broken glasses and contusions reported at home yet... so far.

Wisdom from Africa (III)

A man who pays respect to the great paves the way for his own greatness. [19]

Looking at the king’s mouth, one would think he never sucked at his mother’s breast. [26]

A child’s fingers are not scalded by a piece of hot yam which its mother puts into its palm. [67]

Why should a man suffer so grievously for an offense he had committed inadvertently? [125]

Living fire begets cold, impotent ash. [153]

A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing...Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, then know that something is after its life. [20, 203]

- Achebe, Chinua. 1994. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books.

Tabuk Revisited (1): Something Old

Something Old

My six-day visit to my hometown of Tabuk was a much-needed breather from the hurly-burly of city life (Tabuk is supposed to be a city, but to me it still hasn't lost its rural charm).  To my delight and chagrin, some things haven't changed at all...

I had long missed the ricefield breeze, the shade of aged trees in the yard, and the free, pure drink from the coconut trees behind the house.

[caption id="attachment_2085" align="aligncenter" width="298" caption="The two remaining prolific coconut trees in the yard are low enough that a few meters of bamboo stick would be enough to get a bunch of buko crashing down. (sms photo)"]The two remaining prolific coconut trees in the yard are low enough that a few meters of bamboo stick would be enough to get a bunch of buko crashing down. (sms photo)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2086" align="aligncenter" width="310" caption="I used to climb up to the top of this caimito (star apple) tree, but now I could only reach half of its length without my knees trembling. The mango trees, just like the caimito, are as old (young) as I am, but they surely have outgrown me... :) -sms photo"]) [sms photo][/caption]mango

Market Day. There are at least three "market days" each week in Tabuk during which loads of fruits, vegetables,  meat and what-nots flood the market area. Here, you'd get to enjoy cheap fruits (four large papaya or pawpaws which cost more than a hundred pesos in Baguio City, for example, fetch only forty pesos in Tabuk), and bundles of edible ferns, and other foods some would consider "exotic."

[caption id="attachment_2082" align="aligncenter" width="253" caption="Blanched and sprinkled with a little vinegar and diced onions and garlic, this edible fern makes a fine lunchtime viand. (sms photo)"]Blanched and sprinkled with a little vinegar and diced onions and garlic, this edible fern makes a fine viand! (sms photo)[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_2084" align="aligncenter" width="293" caption="Lined up for noche buena or media noche (sms photo)"]market-day-pigs[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2088" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="These furniture come cheap, but I can't vouch for their quality hehe. This road crossing is particularly memorable to me because this is where we "newsboys" years ago would start off to all directions trying to outdo each other as to who would first get to sell all the stacks of papers apportioned to each of us. We'd walk or ride our bikes all over barangay Bulanao even at midday, shouting "Bannawag-Liwayway-Koooomiks!" or "Manila Bulletin - Inquirer!" all the way. We had to be good runners too, for at times dogs would mistake us for postmen heheh. (sms photo)"]These furniture come cheap, but I can't vouch for their quality hehe. This road crossing is particularly memorable to me because this is where we "newsboys" would start off to all directions trying to outdo each other as to who would get to sell all the stacks of papers first. We'd walk or ride our bokes all over barangay Bulanao even at midday, shouting "Bannawag-Liwayway-Koooomiks!" or "Manila Bulletin - Inquirer!" all the way. (sms photo)[/caption]

Politics & Culture.  I had the opportunity to talk with and drink from the wisdom of some older friends, like print journalist Estanislao Albano -- arguably the man who now deserves the title "Dean of Kalinga journalists" which my father wore till his death -- and radio host Fred Pangsiw, an Anglican priest and cultural master, an authority on authentic Kalinga indigenous music.  From them have I confirmed something about the socio-political condition of the province: Nothing much has changed. Ah, yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same... :)

The Old Capitol Carabao Pond.  I also had a chance to meet again my childhood friend Ali Gacuya, after so many years.  I was reminded of the murky carabao (water buffalo) pool fronting the old capitol where we used to swim and catch large, black leeches with our backs and behinds.  We were quite an attraction to several passers-by, and we'd always get a whipping or a telling off from our parents each time. But we never got to drop the habit for some time.

[caption id="attachment_2089" align="aligncenter" width="295" caption="Ca. 1981. We three were called "The Capitol Boys" because our play area extended to the grounds and offices of the old capitol site. As you probably could read from our photos, we were some of the naughtiest boys you could find at that time. :) L-R Ali Gacuya, Renen Ballesteros, and me (Popoy). - AUS photo"]capitol boys[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2090" align="aligncenter" width="348" caption="The old concrete wall that guarded the old capitol had been replaced, but I still remember that the old wall had a special significance to us boys, for during our petty wars with our schoolmates, we would take cover behind it while the other boys -- the "enemies" -- lined up the road pelted us with stones and mud. (sms photo)"]lubnak[/caption]

The New Capitol.  The new capitol is now old, as evidenced partly by the the peeling paint on its facade, and the unwieldy grasses that have grown around and in the unfinished "gymnasium" beside it.

[caption id="attachment_2093" align="aligncenter" width="438" caption="sms photo"]sms photo[/caption]

"Responsible Anarchy"

Responsible anarchy is about acting for the good of the group.  It helps protect against 'group think.' It is an anomaly that is responsible for keeping the group together while at the same time preserving the individuality of a person.

- Joseph R. Myers, Organic Community: Creating a Place Where People Naturally Connect (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007), 58-59.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Church Emerging

As an Indigenous Person who once swam in the stagnant waters of restorationist, patternistic Christianity -- particularly that brand espoused by the (Stone-Campbell) Church of Christ -- I have taken a deep interest in what is known as the "Emerging Church Movement."

This is so for this cross-denominational and cross-ideological religious stream has brought with it the refreshing waters of a repentant ex-colonial world.  Unlike the restorationist movement with which I was associated, this "faith current," if I may call it that, does not see itself as the religious Center  to which those in the Margins must align themselves; it acknowledges the fact that  the production and perpetuation of a faith system are not ahistorical;1 it does not seek to impose a  whole theological system  born of Victorian sensibility and the Enlightenment project upon other people who have been exposed to different historical accidents and social conventions. I may not agree with every idea that this movement has come to represent, but I do applaud its openness to dialogue and its willingness to allow Christianity to take shape in a particular country without the EuroAmerican mold with which the juggernaut of Christianity has been legitimized in the past centuries.

Fundamentalist/Conservative preachers and groups have condemned the Emerging Church for its "postmodernist" leanings.2 But if  this epithet means deconstructing Western theology so as to make Christianity more relevant and effective in the "Third World," then I welcome it.  If it means doing away with the claims of omniscience and infallibility by the rule-makers in the high places of Evangelical Christianity, then I extol it.

I am particularly impressed with the candor and humility of Brian D. McLaren as shown in his discussion on the "emerging church" (or, as he preferred to call it, the "church emerging"):

What are we in the so-called emerging churches seeking to emerge from?... We are seeking to emerge from modern Western Christianity, from colonial Christianity, from Christianity as a 'white man's religion.'

...we do not see ourselves as the emerging church -- meaning a slice, sector, or division of the church that is roughly analogous to 'the charismatic church' or 'the seeker church.' Instead, we see ourselves as the church emerging, meaning a growing edge of the church at large in all its forms, stretching from the margins into new territory beyond modern, Western Christianity.

That means we are emerging into a postcolonial faith, a post-Western faith -- not a faith that wants to forget and deny the many blessings of Christian faith in Western idioms, but a faith that no longer wants to be in denial about the dark sides of our history.  We are emerging into a new era of Christian faith as a 'living color' global community, from a religion of conquest and control to a faith of collaborative mission and humble service.  We are emerging from a version of faith that is wedded to various nationalisms, rationalisms, and political and economic ideologies into a new vision of prophetic faith that seeks God's kingdom and God's justice for all.  We are emerging from a 'two-party system' or 'cold war' Christianity that is polarized and paralyzed by left/liberal and right/conservative cleavages, and we are emerging into an integral, holistic, creative, and transforming vision of the missio Dei in which we all participate as colaborers with God.[emph. his] 3

A restorationist community of faith (and I state this based on what I perceive as the Church of Christ's Philippine experience), such a missiological perspective can hardly be factored in most of its evangelistic projects.  For whatever form Christianity has come from the Stone-Campbell Movement of the U.S.A. is often viewed as having directly sprung from the New Testament, AD 33.  It is thus blind to its own biases, highly "textualized," and is largely cerebral in its approach to faith and practice.  To them apply the following observation of Emergent villager Will Samson:

Conservative, cognitive/propositional approaches to understanding God exclusively through the text often do not take fully into account the lack of objectivity of human readers, nor do they fully appreciate the bias we bring as subjective readers.4

In another Emergent work,5 Kester Brewin describes Emergent Systems as being open, flexible, always learning. It gives premium to "distributed knowledge" over authoritarian sources of information, and practices "servant leadership."

My ministerial experience had given me the privilege of working with a few Christian leaders  and churches who/that have embodied or showcased the characteristics of Emergent Systems listed by Brewin. Most congregations and leaders in my former church, however, have found themselves cloistered in a theological system that is suspicious of change, glories in the authority of US-based authors and publications, and promotes a top-down management style.  While many Churches of Christ elsewhere6 are casting off a rigid, sectarian skin and are evolving into what Joseph Myers would tag as "Organic Communities,"7 most Churches of Christ in the Philippines still find it difficult to free themselves from the  rut  of a "1960s-church" they got stuck in as seen in their now glossy but virtually unchanged, content-wise, World Bible School booklets and Jule Miller Filmstrips/VHS-based Bible lessons, and the doctrinal issues they still engage in (a capella and "anti-ism" debates, "indwelling" issue, etc.)

All the foregoing and other developments issuing from the Emerging/Emergent school of thought give me hope for a Christianity that could still make its distinctive voice be heard above the cacophony of sounds in this pluralistic society.

There is always a danger of movements becoming monuments, as someone had warned. And this movement may find itself not exempted from ending up  in such an ossified state, in the long run.  However, the dynamic principles it espouses will surely influence other global and local movements in the generations to come.

On a more positive note, this faith current may eventually develop into divergent streams far beyond what its founders and current leaders may have envisioned, and be absorbed   into the "multicultural forests" across the globe, thus making Christianity more localized and, hopefully, less structured and less formal. Then, will we have a truly heterogeneous Christianity united not by centralized formal and informal structures nor by written and unspoken creeds but by a common faith in a common Savior and a common testimony of personal transformation.

Whatever religious trends will come the Filipino Christians' way, these must not be, as the cliche goes, "swallow[ed] hook, line, and sinker," but appropriated -- what can be serviceable from these foreign ideas and practices to the Philippine Church should be adapted and mainstreamed into the local culture.


1 As Barry Taylor puts it in his article, "Converting Christianity: The End and Beginning of Faith":

Religion is always a cultural production, and the role of sociocultural issues cannot be discounted from the ways in which we envision and understand faith.

- Doug Pagitt & Tony Jones, eds., An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 167.

2 Notwithstanding the habit of some dogmatists of automatically attaching negative connotations to the term "Postmodernism," I believe that Filipino Christians will profit from appropriating concepts associated with this intellectual trend (as well as with Postcolonialism) like "deconstruction" and "decentering."  To learn how to have a balanced outlook on Christianity and Postmodernism, see Pugh, Jeffey C. The Matrix of Faith: Reclaiming a Christian Vision. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2001. To get a hold on how some Christians have appropriated Postcolonial Theory, read Lapiz, Ed. Paano Maging Pilipinong Kristiano [Becoming a Filipino Christian]. Makati City: Kaloob, 1997. Suk, John, ed. Doing Theology in the Philippines. Manila: ATS/OMF Literature Inc., 2005.

Recommended online article: "Five Streams of the Emerging Church" by Scot McKnight.

3 Brian D. McLaren, "Church Emerging: Or Why I Still Use the Word Postmodern but with Mixed Feelings," in  Pagitt & Jones: 149-150.

4 "The End of Reinvention: Mission Beyond Market Adoption Cycles," in Pagitt & Jones: 156.  See also Ryan Bolger's "Following Jesus into Culture: Emerging Church as Social Movement," ibid.,132-139.

5 Kester Brewin, Signs of Emergence: A Vision for Church that is Organized/Networked/Decentralized/Bottom-Up/Communal/Flexible - Always Evolving (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 97-118.

Among my favorites when it comes to non-traditional concepts of leadership are these two works: Finzel, Hans. The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make. Colorado Springs: CCMI, 2000. Reprint, Manila: Christian Growth Ministries, 2002Roxburgh, Alan J. & Fred Romanuk. The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006.

6 To illustrate, I refer the reader to the last two chapters of this companion book to The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (2005), entitled "1967-Present: A Crisis of Identity" and "Facing the Future as a Refugee Movement": Gary Holloway & Douglas A. Foster, Renewing God's People: A Concise History of Churches of Christ (Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 2006), 123-144.

7 A must-read for Christians wondering how their churches could be a hospital and not a dungeon for the spiritually ill: Myers, Joseph R. Organic Community: Creating a Place Where People Naturally Connect. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

When Silence is Dumb

Wisdom from Africa (III): Silent Rage

Uchendu: Mother Kite once sent her daughter to bring food.  She went, and brought back a duckling. ‘You have done very well,’ said Mother Kite to her daughter, ‘but tell me, what did the mother of this duckling say when you swooped and carried its child away?’ ‘It said nothing,’ replied the young kite. ‘It just walked away.’  ‘You must return the duckling,’ said Mother Kite. ‘There is something ominous behind the silence.’ And so Daughter Kite returned the duckling and took a chick instead.  ‘What did the mother  of this chick do?’ asked the old kite. ‘It cried and raved and cursed me,’ said the young kite.  ‘Then we can eat the chick,’ said her mother. ‘There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts.’ [140]

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books, 1994.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cordillera Music (1): Kalinga Songs

We who value our native roots know that our indigenous songs have helped nourish our culture across the centuries.  It is therefore our duty to learn these songs by heart and know how these relate to the other aspects of our culture. Meanwhile, non-Igorots who wish to have a deeper understanding of our culture should consider exploring not only our flora, fauna and artifacts but also our music. ¹

With this in mind, I have begun reproducing,with minor editing, sections of the studies made in the late '80s and early '90s by Anatalia Magkachi Sabóy² of Bontoc, Mt. Province.  In two earlier posts, I published some Banao songs notated by Mrs. Saboy.

In 1993,  she completed a comparative study on some indigenous songs of the Cordillera.³ Included in her research were five ethnic songs of Kalinga -- Ay, Ay Salidummay, Dakami a Tingguian, Oggayam,   Owwawi, and Sowi-i.  Below are the musical and social descriptions of each song:

1. Ay'Ay Salidummay

Musical Characteristics: Seven-tone scale, key of Fb major, wide range, statis-stepwise-skipwise motion, 2/4 time signature, moderate tempo, monophonic, strophic, ternary, round song and neumatic-syllabic setting.

Social Characteristics: Salidummay tunes have been harmonized and popularly sung in Kalinga.  Ay'Ay Salidummay is an entertainment song presented during social gatherings as a chorus in three parts and as a round song.  It expresses a positive attitude of the Kalingas toward adversities in life.

Ay'Ay Salidummay


Ay ay salidummay, salidummay diway (no meaning)

Dong-dong-ay si dong-i-lay (no meaning; “dong-i-lay,” is a name of a weed that happens to fit the rhyming)

Insinali dum-ma-ay

Ay, ay, salidummay, salidummay diway

Itako manlaglagsak (let’s be merry)

Uray adu un ligat (despite our many hardships)

Elallay, elallay (no literal meaning)

Kaykayngan mabaybay-an (it’s a pity to neglect)

Ugali kapintasan (a traditional so beautiful)

No ay,ay, no ay, ay (no meaning)

Lagsak intay ipap-papas (let’s enjoy life to the fullest)

Kasta koma ti panagbiag (that’s how we should live)

Lilallay, lilalilallay (no meaning)

Dong-dong-ay si dong-i-lay

Insinali dumma-ay

LIlallay, lilallay, lilalilay

Dummay diway

2. Dakami a Tingguian [4]

Musical Characteristics: Pentatonic, key of C, average range, stepwise-skipwise motion, 4/4 time signature, moderate tempo, monophonic, strophic and syllabic-neumatic setting.

Social Characteristics: This entertainment song, which may be presented either as a solo or a group performance, reflects the Tingguians' pride in and contentment with their cultural practices . Cultural values shown: industry, social cooperation, peace and contentment, pride of one's cultural heritage


Luglugar mi a Tinggian (our abodes, we Tinggians)

Lugar kabanbantayan (are mountainous places)

Ken kabakbakiran (and forestlands)

Napalalo ti rigat mi (we greatly suffer)

Pudot, sang-at lak-amen mi (heat, uphill climbs we endure)

Kaasi kami (we are pitiful)

Sidsida mi nga Tinggian (our foods, we Tinggians)

Alingo, ugsa kada ikan (are wild pigs, deer and fish)

Ay, ay, nam-ay mi pay (Ah, how blessed we are!)

[last five stanzas omitted]

3. Oggayam

Musical Characteristics: Seven-tone scale, modal, wide range, stepwise-skipwise and few static motino, non-metric, fast tempo, monophonic, strophic, syllabic-neumatic setting.

Social Characteristics: Friendship, cooperation, and unity are the major virtues that most Kalingas  exhibit, as implied in this song which is used by a solo performer in counseling, story-telling, and entertaining the community on any occasion.


Ay e e e gayamen-n-n-n-n

Dey gayamen-n-n-n-n-n-n

Ay oggayam ke-e-e-e-e-e-t

Di gayamen!

Adto ta-y-y-y-e-e-e-e (we’re all gathered here because of us)


O mi-pang-ge-e-e-e-ep


Kadat an-ank-a-a-a-a-a (our children)

Nag-gasawa-a-a-a-a-a (who got married)

O sapay koma ken-n-n-n-n (may they)

Di-yos ama ta—enda-a-a-a-a (by God’s will)

Ay gumanak! (beget many children)

Ay e-e-e gayamenn-n-n-n (Hey, brothers)

Dey e-e-e-ey gayamen n-n-n

O kakabsa---at—a-a dumateng! (who came)

Nga immay me-e-e-e-et agatendar (to attend)

Kanto kasa-a-a-a-a-a di dad an-nak! (the wedding of this hour)

O o abal-la-yan mi-i-ye (O aballayan – parents of either party)

Nga----day-dayawen (whom we honor)

O kakabsat man-n-n-n-n nga dum-mateng! (O brothers who came)

O sap-sapay koma –a-a- ken Diyos Ama (May it be to God the Father)

Tadenda-e-e-e-e-ey gumanak ta (that they bear many children)

Addat gon-gona ta at-e-e (so that we’ll be rewarded)

Nga nagdat-dating kanto (we who came)

Nanumo---o nga para-angan! (to humble yard/abode)

A-e-e-e- ket gaya—menn-n-n-

Dey e-e-e-ey gayamen-n-n-n

Ket inkam pay pagyam-yamanan (we thank you)

Nga immay met a nag-atendar kanto (you who came)

4. Owwawi

Musical Characteristics: Octave, modal, wide range, stepwise-skipwise motion, 4/4 time signature, slow tempo, monophonic, strophic and syllabic-neumatic setting.

Social Characteristics: Kalinga families are closely knit; members take care of each other.  Parents who work in their famrs leave their small children at home.  Older brothers and sisters take care of theyr baby siblings.  At these times, singing lullaby songs becomes indispensable. Owwawi is sung to put a baby to sleep.

Slow & Smooth
Owwa owwawi owwawi (no meaning)

Owwa owwa owwa owwa

Owwa owwawi

Ommoy ama’d tattalon owwawi (father went to the fields)

Ommoy ina nallamon, owwawi (mother went weeding in the rice fields)

Ot ina taynan man-ib-ibvil anak na (and left her baby crying)

Ay naligat payyan djin ina-udji (ay, it’s hard to be the youngest)

Ta no lomabvi (for when night comes)

Sakon ton mantagibvi (I have to care for the baby)

No masoyop (when baby sleeps)

Iggak payyan mambvayo (i pound rice again)

Ta piya-ona’n ma-yog-ga-yog-ga-yog (because baby wants)

5. Sowi-i
Musical Characteristics: Three-tone scale, key of G# major, narrow range, static, stepwise-skipwise motion, 2/4 time signature, moderate, monophonic, strophic, syllabic-neumatic setting.

Social Characteristics: This is popularly known as a rice-pounding festival song meant ot honor someone.



Tot-toowa kam pay dja dji (Oh yes, it’s true; it’s true)

Sowi-i 6

[1] Anatalia and Augustus Saboy jointly expressed in an unpublished essay on indigenous music:

Ethnic music is one of the richest sources of cultural values.  Unlike Western music in which the beauty of the song is better gauged from its melody and lyrics, the Cordillera ethnic song's beauty lies in its cultural values and message.  Collecting, recording and notating the ethnic songs of the different ethnic songs of the Cordillera will help not only to preserve this rich oral literature of the Cordillerans but will give opportunity for a deeper contextual analysis of the songs in order to gain insights into the aspirations, ideals, motivations, and hopes of the people in the mountain region.  In this way, the Cordillera group of Filipinos will be better understood, especially in their attempt to find a place among their brother Filipinos.

[2] Mrs. Sabóy served as  Cordillera's regional music supervisor (Education Supervisor II)  under the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), now DepEd, from 1992-1997.  Through the support of the Philippine Board of Scholarship for Southeast Asia Foundation (PBSSAF) and the Commission of National Integration (CNI),  she underwent rigorous music training at the  Conservatory of Music, University of the Philippines (UP), from 1961-1965. She continued her studies at Saint Louis University (SLU)  where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Education (Major in Music Education) from 1965-1967.  She did graduate  and post-graduate studies at St. Paul's University and Cagayan Teachers College (1977-1981), Baguio Colleges Foundation (BCF) -- now University of the Cordilleras (UC) --  (1989-1990), and Baguio Central University (BSU, 1990-1993).

[3] Sabóy, Anatalia Magkachi. "Ethnic Songs of the Major Ethnolinguistic Groups in the Cordillera."Unpublished Dissertation, BCU, Baguio City.

[4] The "Tingguians" comprise an ethnic group found in the highlands of Abra.  They were called so by the Spaniards for want or ignorance of the indigenous name for the natives they discovered in the hinterlands of this province.  The appellation is derived from the Spanish word "Tinggi" or mountains or hills.  The Banaos of Western Kalinga were also grouped by the Spaniards as "Tingians" since they believe, based on this hilltribe's orature, that this indigenous group actually migrated from their Kalinga homeland, particularly the geopolitical unit occupied by the Banaos of today.

[5] Mr. Taclawan is a retired elementary school teacher (Easter School/College) who hails from Saltan, Balabalasang, Balbalan, Kalinga but who now resides in Pinget, Baguio City.  His version is one of the generally accepted original core melody of the Oggayam. Other bards in Kalinga and the Abra Banao area have their own versions of this song.  An oggayam balladeer may sing in his own free style and meter by adding, subtracting or twisting words or tune to the delight of the audience.  The words are extemporaneous to suit the occasion.  There is thus no fixed melody nor lyric for this song; it is dependent on the skill of the improvisator.

[6] It is called Chua-ay by some researchers or Chowe-e among the Central Bontoks and Sowi-e by Western Bontoks.  The melody as notated here is closely similar to that of Julia Bingham's "Pounding Rice" and "Rice Pounding" in the Music Horizons for Intermediate Grades and Philippine Progressive Music Series complied by Norberto Romualdez and Petrona Ramos in 1924 and 1953, respectively.  Bingham attributes the melod yto Balbalasang. With the passing of time, the sowi-i has assumed its place in the Banao (Balbalsang) repertory as a pataytay, more htan as an exclusive melody for work as in rice pounding.  It is chanted as an approbation song, parallel to that of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" which is chorused after a speech or song rendered in present-day social gatherings.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Attacking Other Religions"

A reader who goes by the alias Wayway attacks me for "attacking other religions."  Says s/he:

hello men! you’re attacking other religion and promoting your wrong belief! you’re so so feeling!

The comment was made on a quote I titled "Church Politics" which I got from the book, I Permit Not a Woman... to Remain Shackled, written by a long-time member of the (Stone-Campbell) Church of Christ, Robert Rowland.

Rowland's book is a critique of his denomination's traditional teaching on the ecclesial role of women, particularly its stance against appointing deaconesses and against women serving Communion and /or preaching, teaching, and praying in mixed assemblies (i.e. church meeting where men and women, adults and children are present).  Aside from a judicious exegesis of texts usually used by this religious group to justify its "shackling of women in the church," the book also explores the politics and economics involved in the perpetuation of this unfair set of religious practices.

I don't know if Wayway belongs to a religious group or not.  If not, I don't know how s/he views religion  in general or the clashing sects around us. Is s/he satisfied? Does s/he agree or disagree with all  or some of their contending claims?  Does s/he view these groups' truth claims as equally true, no matter how irreconcilable these are?  If a religious group says that it is the "One, True Church" and the rest of the religious world are going to hell, what does s/he feel or think about this exclusivist claim?

If s/he belongs to some sect or faith system, does s/he subscribe to a particular (written or unwritten) creed?  Does s/he adhere to a particular truth claim? Does her/his group believe that all its teachings  and practices are biblically rooted? Does her/his group believe that all other religious groups have equally valid claims to truth? Or does his/her group believe that some teach false doctrines? Does his/her group believe that every practice or ritual of all churches are good?  Or does his/her group believe that some practices or rituals of some churches are bad?

We can go on and on with this type of questioning as we determine whether those who oppose others for critiquing religion have their own biases or do make value judgments regarding the religious issues of our day.

What these people don't realize is that whether one commits oneself to a particular faith system or rejects all religious systems, s/he eventually makes a truth claim.  And to make a truth claim is to reject what one considers as a false idea/doctrine/consciousness.  All religious groups on earth -- even those that claim to be "the most tolerant of all" -- make either a subtle or overt attack on others in myriad ways , from graffiti on a wall and dietary rules to movie productions.

And that's perfectly normal.  For after all, we all have to make an ideological commitment of some sort, which means that we will have to screen out other statements of meaning or truth and will have to uphold a particular moral or ethical standard.  In a whole universe of dizzying standards, ours eventually engages others in a cosmic battle -- cosmic in the sense that worldviews are involved , and lives (and perhaps, "afterlives" too) are affected.

What's not normal is when we turn these spiritual/moral engagements into physical and material(istic) crusades or clashes. Or when we pretend to believe that all truth claims are equally valid  and thus do not make judgment at all on any specific belief or idea.  Or when we turn a blind eye to the excesses done in the name of religion. Or when we miss out on the fact that we, too, have our own biases that influence or determine what we say or do.

In my case, my commitment is to a particular Christian ideology -- one that recognizes the need for a Savior and has faith in the transformative power of the Cross, but has no faith in the rank Sectarianism among Churches where the explosive power of their various crosses often stifle, maim, and even kill faith.

I had spent some of my best years promoting a sectarian cause which I have now come to reject.  I know how it is to live a religious but intellectually dishonest life in an exclusivist community sharing a borrowed faith.

As an ex-preacher, I have seen how the pulpit could become a powerful launching pad for reform and the church a grand hub of creative social interaction.  But I have also seen how the pulpit could be the center of thought-control and the church a ramshackle barn of cowed herd with cowhands  and undershepherds arguing till the cows come home (puns intended).  I have seen how money could be used to sustain charitable projects, and how numbers can lift the spirit  of the hopeless.  But I have also seen how money could be dangled as bait to recruit footsoldier-puppets that would promote pet, imported, irrelevant, and divisive doctrines, and how numbers could be manipulated to boost egos and draw greater financial and moral support from here and abroad.

I know the joy of finding "the truth" in a faith system, but I also know how mind-wracking it could be to find out years later that this "enlightenment" is, after all, partly darkened by lies.  I know how it feels to struggle maintaining your sanity trying to justify discrimination and intramural fighting in a religious corral while trying to preach a Jesus who knew of no such despicable practices.  I know the thrill of "using your talents for the Lord,"  but I also know the frustration of having discovered that I have refused to use and develop all my God-given potentials for the greater good just because I had to subscribe to a narrow creed.

Now, if you went through such an experience (and what I wrote above is but a sampling of what I could say about my spiritual journey), would you just sit back after looking back and say, All is well. God is good! and just get on with your life without sharing with other meaning-seekers what you learned from  a sectarian dungeon?

Well, I would not. And I shall continue writing about the good I see in religion without neglecting to expose and oppose what I see as abuses, manipulations, arrogance, and lies done in the name of heaven. And, yes, I will continue to write on these con sentimiento! :)

I don't believe that I am right all the time.  My thousands of mistakes  in the past have been  more than enough to teach me of my fallibility. I have changed my views in the past, and, in the years ahead, will continue to welcome more changes in my outlook in life and my conduct in the midst of others.  I only follow my heart to where my intellectual journey leads me.

Wayway accuses me of promoting "wrong beliefs." If only s/he could say more about this charge   and so make me see the light from his/her flashbulb.



Related Posts:

"Deconverting from Sectarianism" : Introductory Note (1)

"Deconverting from Sectarianism" : The Language of Sectarianism (2)

"Deconverting from Sectarianism" : A Culture of Hate (3)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Need for Contextualization

The time has come to examine, investigate and criticize the way of teaching Christianity that needlessly tramples upon the culture of the recipients. Through study and solicitous ways, those who have been run over, hurt and burnt before and by now have become paranoid about being victimized by rude religious ways, may still be reached and won over....

With careful and caring redemption, adaptation and contextualization, Filipino cultural forms will flourish, not die, with the march of Christianity in our country. Then, Christianity will be the sanctuary, not the cemetery, of Filipino cultural heritage.

- Ed Lapiz, Paano Maging Pilipinong Kristiano [Becoming a Filipino Christian] (Makati City: Kaloob, 1997), 100,109.

God & "Pinikpikan," etc.

Part of the doctrinal package or religious discourse that I had to subscribe to as a preacher for a sectarian group was the prohibition against eating blood.  By this teaching, eating certain native Philippine dishes like dinuguan -- especially dinuguan -- (pork blood stew),  pinikpikan (roasted and boiled fowl with undrained blood), kinilaw (raw meat or seafood cured with a souring agent), and even balut (boiled duck egg/fetus)* was considered taboo, a violation of the Divine Pattern: kill, roast/boil, eat, and get fried in hell.
In my Bible Studies, I'd parrot our old preachers' line of reasoning on this doctrinal issue, as follows: In the Old Testament (OT), Jehovah barred the ancients from eating blood or an animal with blood in it; Noah was warned against it (Gen 9.4-5), and Israel was commanded to keep it along with other dietary restrictions (Lev 17.10-12).  In the New Testament (NT), we see the same rule: the early Gentile Christians were "to abstain from eating meat of strangled animals as well the blood thereof" (Acts 15.19-21,29). So it is clear that in all three dispensations -- Patriarchal, Mosaical, and Christian -- there is a uniform stand against eating blood (read: dinuguan, pinikpikan, kinilaw, and balut).

Usually, that kind of proof-texting worked and it did help me win some to our cause.  There were those among my "prospects," though, who showed critical thinking and questioned me about what they perceived as contradictions in my teaching, including my use of OT texts while claiming that "the NT  alone should be the basis of Christian faith and practice." More than that, I claimed that Christians are to be under certain dietary restrictions and thus set myself against other NT passages which show that there is no such hard-and-fast rule for Christians today (see Mark 7.17-19; Acts 15.21; Rom 14; I Cor 8.1-13, 10.23-32, I Tim 4.3-4).

In trying to explain away the alleged inconsistencies in my doctrine, I gathered and developed stock rebuttals which at that time seemed to me irrefutable but now downright ridiculous and therefore untenable. Below are some of these:

In considering Mark 7.17-19, I would ape one of our older debaters by quickly responding: “O sige, kainin mo ang tae ko” (Okay, eat my crap then). That kind of "answer" often drew laughter from my hearers with some giving me the Hmmm... I didn't think of that - look.
But actually you don't need to crank up your brain gears to see the tomfoolery and hedging in that stock response.  Obviously, the text talks about food, not about crap or piss, and it says that Jesus declared all foods clean.

I'd explain Romans 14 by saying something like this: "Well, Paul clearly says in that chapter that we sin if we cause our brethren to stumble by eating a certain type of food which they think is prohibited by God. So if you eat dinuguan and you offend a brother or a sister, you sin. To be safe, then, we must not eat dinuguan at all. That's what this Apostle is also saying in I Corinthians 8.1-13, 10.23-32."

But again, that's no fair exegesis of the text in question, for it teaches too that no judgment must be passed on a fellow believer based on dietary regulations -- vegetarians should not judge the omnivores (okay, "meatetarians") and vice versa.  Paul, a former disciple of the great Jewish  teacher Gamaliel, said, “Nothing is unclean in itself." And I did miss the fact that the text is actually saying that those who fuss about diet as basis for fellowship are the ones who lack spiritual maturity. (Some Christian fundamentalist groups teach that it is wrong for their members to attend cañao (indigenous ritual feasts of Igorots) where meat with blood in it is supposed to be offered to idols before it is eaten.  But note that the Corinthian text above allowed the early Christians to attend feasts held in "pagan temples" where they would have to partake of meat from strangled animals that have been offered, presumably, to Apollo.

I Tim 4.1-5. Based on this text, my former church group condemned the Catholic Church for its dietary restrictions on the so-called "Holy Week."  It was not consistent though for turning around and forbidding its members against eating dinuguan or pinikpikan. Listen to Paul once more: "They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."

But by far, among all the texts cited relative to this issue, the central text (well, at least for me) is Acts 15. 19,20 because it directly admonishes Gentile Christians to shun strangled meat, and because its context shows that this issue was and is cultural, and, therefore special and limited (i.e. the blood-and-strangled-meat ban is not universally applicable).

Contextually, the two verses form part of a larger issue at that time, legalism -- that is, the imposition of Jewish laws on Gentile Christians.  Pharisaical Jews wanted to make circumcision a litmus test for fellowship and salvation.By extension, the Gentile Christians would have to be enslaved by the Law of Moses and thus would have "fallen from grace" (cf. Gal 2-5).  To resolve the issue, a grand conference was held in Jerusalem and was concluded with the following unanimous decision, as expressed by one of the elders of the Jerusalem church, James:

"It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath."

This passage seems to contradict the other NT texts cited above, but it does not for the last sentence clarifies and limits the application of the ban.  The Jews were brought up in a legalistic system which demanded that they observe strict dietary rules (see Lev 11).  Their religious or moral upbringing naturally clashed with that of many of their Gentiles churchmates who did not have such qualms about eating meat with blood in it.  And since many of these converted Jews still gathered in synagogues where the Mosaical Law  held sway, it was but proper for the Gentile Christians to rein in their appetites so as not to offend their Jewish brethren.

So does this give us license for promiscuity, then? No.  The reason sexual immorality got sandwiched in this particular dietary proscription was that  most pagan feasts or revelries in the New Testament world included sexual orgies. In other words, food and sex were lumped in the command not because these were intrinsically of equal moral weight but because both of these were incidentally at the center of the Jewish-Gentile controversy of the period.  Had murder been part of these ancient rituals, it would have also been included in the list.

So with its context considered, the decision of the Jerusalem church does not really grant fundamentalist religious leaders the right to impose food restrictions upon their members.  Oh, they can always argue that blood is dirty and therefore unhealthy, and that since the Christian's body is "the temple of the Holy Spirit" (I Cor 6.19) Christians should avoid eating meat with blood in it.  Answer?  Easy.  First, let's ask them how "drained" should an animal be of its blood before it is allowed to be cooked and eaten.How much of the blood is allowed to remain in the meat? A pint? A droplet?  Further, we should ask them if they also have injunctions against eating meat with cholesterol in it, eating french fries and burgers,  drinking Coca-Cola,  etc.  For after all, health buffs should abstain from these types of junk foods and drinks, right? Ay, these people draw around them a legalistic line which they and their families wouldn't mind traipsing over.

This dietary rule must then be seen not as a Biblical command, but simply as an imposition of some theologians' dubious interpretation of a set of Biblical passages.

The rule is needless and beclouds the  message of Jesus. And missionaries who take a confrontational approach in dealing with the peculiarities of certain cultures or sub-cultures must first be taught to examine the colored glasses they wear before they ever set foot on other lands.


*To learn how to cook these Filipino delicacies, go to for dinuguan, for pinikpikan, and for kinilaw. If you're interested in a sensationalized write-up on balut, go to

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Lost Filipino Christian

The Filipino Christian is lost somewhere.  To be a “good Christian,” does he have to abandon his cultural heritage and thus be a “bad Filipino”?  This sense of being lost is sometimes shared and often caused by his foreign mentors who taught him, and probably even sincerely believed it themselves that being Christian means being Westernized.

For almost a hundred years now, evangelical Christianity in the Philippines has almost always been equated with Westernization or, more exactly, Americanization. For instance, a Christian should only be singing formal Western Music at church (the lyrics may sometimes be localized, though) or recently, doing an American gospel song.  Filipino Christian worship has been mindlessly structured after Western prototypes without regard for indigenous -- and still very much alive -- Filipino concepts of time, space, spirituality, and community.  Of course, all these encroachments were done in the high name of evangelization. In as much as the indigenous culture has been collectively adjudged "evil," "pagan," "animist," etc. by many foreign missionaries, it was deemed but proper to destroy and replace it with a "sacred" one; never mind if the replacement is not even the New Testament Eastern-type of Christianity that we see in the Book of Acts but just a version, among many versions: the Anglo-American form.

- Ed Lapiz, Paano Maging Pilipinong Kristiano [Becoming a Filipino Christian] (Makati City: Kaloob, 1997), xiii.