Pakde: The Kankanaey ritual for good life

Say watwat? In a grandiose celebration and appeasement to the spirits, large bilaos with equally sliced pork are prepared to be brought back home. So the saying, “bringing home the bacon” is actually literal to the Igorots.//Image Source:

Life is celebrated in different manners throughout different cultures and different peoples. We celebrate our birthdays, our graduation, our successes, even in our failures we celebrate the goodness of life. The world has their ways, the Kankaneys have pakde.

Pakde is a ritual performed to appease the unseen and the Supreme Being. It is a community ritual performed by a family or a group of families clustered in an area. This ritual usually involves the lalakay or the elders together with the youth in performing the ritual. Women and the youth are also involved in its preparation.

Thus, the sense of community and togetherness is intact.

Requirements in the Pakde

                First of all, the pakde cannot be performed without the presence of a mambunong or the native priest. They are the brave leaders who are said to have connection with the spirits and can predict phenomena occurring in a particular community.

Next participants are the man-ili or the community.  A pakde ritual cannot be made possible without their contribution and participation, and the provision of materials for the ritual.

After determining the participants, the community will execute the ritual in a Pakedlan. A pakedlan is where a wooden post around four inches in diameter and five feet high is staked to the ground. At the tip of the post, another short piece of wood is nailed at the side of the wooden post. This where the jaw bones of the offered pigs are hanged.

Another place crucial for the ritual is the sipsipitan set on the entrance and exit of the village. This is where the sun rises and the sun sets and is determined by a piece of wood wrapped with red leaves which is also called sipsipitan. A pair of ears is tucked in the wood.

In the offerings, a native pig is sacrificed. The tapuey or rice wine is also needed because the drinking and sharing of tapuey is the fellowship for the man-ili. On the other hand, togi or sweet potato and rice are necessary. These are not prepared in the Pakedlan but is packed by the man-ili.

Performing the Pakde

Before the ritual starts, the mambunong will make sure that all the community members are all in their homes. If some are at work or at their gardens, they will wait for them to go home. Once all are in their homes, the pakde commences.

While the man-ili is gathering in their homes, the mambunong will cut the ear of the pig which is to be placed in the sipsipitan. Two elders are assigned to cut the ear. One in sunrise, and one in sunset. This is to warn people not to enter the village while the pakde is being performed. The entrance and exit is also barricaded using grasses to avoid disturbance.

When the elders are already in the Pakedlan, the mambunong are now ready to butcher the pig. But the rules are to be followed by the community before butchering.

The following rules are: maga di mankalkali (no talkiung), magay man-ot otot ya mantaktakdeg (no farting and no standing), magay man-in-inom (no drinking), ya magay masmaseyep (and no sleeping). If anyone is caught, the lawbreaker will clean the Pakedlan after the ritual.

In the butchering of pig, the mambunongs examine the pig bile. If the bile is good, the ritual must commence. If not, they should get other pigs to be offered. Then the baki or the prayer is uttered. This goes on for an hour thirty minutes to two hours.

After the baki, the mani-ili can gather while the meat are being cooked. The said rules are also observed during the gathering. The meat are equally distributed to the man-ili because they believe that this brings fortune.

The man-ili who anticipated the ritual are ordered not to let the meat fall to avoid repeating the whole ritual again. At home, the family representative who participated in the pakde wakes his/her family members to partake their share of meat.

This is a whole night event. In the morning, the Pakedlan and the sipsipitan will be inspected by three community elders to see if there are changes in the position. Any observation will be reported to the mambunong for interpretation.

Importance to the community

Since most Kankaney communities are agriculture-based, the pakde is very important for the farmers for a good harvest and income.

Pakde is also significant to the community because it maintains a closer relationship with the man-ili. Because of the tedious process in acquiring the materials needed for the ritual, the man-ili develops a spirit of panagtitinulong (unity) in contributing their resources for the activity.

Peace and order is also maintained during the ritual because it is a sacred duty for all the community people involved.

                It is truly a night of silence, a night to be one with the spirits. But when a community is involved, it is a silent celebration. A celebration of life.

//Mikeen Penchog

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