Posipos (lit., "turn around," "twist") is a healing ritual of the Kalingas in which relatives and friends gather in the home of a sick person to pray for his recovery (i.e., "turning" him from illness to well–being). The event includes exhortations by elders, a fellowship meal over a carabao, cow, and/pig butchered for the occasion, and dancing. It is akin to apogid (apo = "God" + gidigid = slicing) which essentially means a curing ceremony involving the offering of an animal to God as part of a bargaining process aimed at securing God's extension of a sick person's life.
One such ceremony transpired in Bayaksan, Taloy Sur, Tuba, Benguet last Sunday at the residence of Tommy Dannang, a Kalinga of the Banao tribe and currently a sheriff at the RTC in Baguio. Mr. Dannang has been in and out of the hospital for the past few months and, as many Igorots with prolonged illnesses are wont to do, has resorted to the traditional way of healing to supplement the curative powers of medical science. For those of us young Kalingas who have long been distanced from our indigenous roots, it was another learning session on Kalinga culture mainly through the informal speeches of Judge Francis Buliyat, Joseph Dupali — our merry master of ceremonies — and other Kalinga elders.
The gathering demonstrated how Kalingas translocated from the province to a regional center have perpetuated their indigenous practices while adapting these to a multicultural setting, as shown in the following:
1. Traditionally, the sacrificial animals for a posipos were provided by the children or other relatives of the sick. In this case, it was Mr. Dannang himself who bought a pig and a cow. Too, the ritual used to be hosted only by the traditional baknang (aristocrats), but it has now become the privilege of any educated and relatively well–to–do Kalinga.
2. Illustrating the indigenization of a foreign religion, the practice has melded with Christian theology as shown in how God is addressed and how Bible passages are sometimes invoked by the elders in their exhortations. Some church leaders were even present to join in the well–wishing. The sap–uy (pray–over) led by Mr. Dupali was not much different from a regular Christian prayer session except for the slice of meat and diket (rice cake) on the table and the freedom of other elders to inject their thoughts to the intercessory prayer led by one of them.
3. As confessed by Mr. Dupali, the traditional posipos he knew as a teenager was boring to the young with most of the elders brooding over someone's state of health. Posipos should be a festive occasion, he insisted, because it looks forward to a better day for the sick. So in this occasion, tadok/pattong (traditional dance/gong–playing) and the swapping of anecdotes became important parts of the affair.
In all these, I saw the resolve of my elders to exemplify a gentler face of Kalinga. I also noted their desire to promote a healthy view of their customs in relation to mainstream culture, and so with them keeping the gate of innovation open, a greater chance for the indigenous to survive in the pluralistic present is assured.
Parenthetically, I wish Christian missionaries who really want to positively influence our culture would seriously look into how practices as this could be the conduits of their message of reconciliation and peace.
KALPRA and Kalinga Day Updates
The Kalinga Professionals and Residents Association (KALPRA) is currently headed by Prof. Alex Gumabol with Rocky Pallogan as vice president. Other officers are Tommy Dannang (Secretary), Joseph Dupali and Greenfields Pinateg, (Business Managers), Jun Maymaya (Treasurer), and Atty. George Dumawing (Auditor).
According to Judge Francis Buliyat, the 2010 Kalinga Day (February 14) will be hosted by Tanudan Municipality. Details to be finalized in the next few months. Hosting has completed its rounds among the municipalities of Kalinga, except Rizal.