The Scepter of Peace and Justice

A carabao was stolen. To the owner’s worries, he invited the people of his community for search. He asked everyone to join him looking for his missing carabao. He described its size, what kind of rope was in it and where was its last place before it was found missing. Until, they saw its hoof marks and followed it. The thief was caught and punished three times. As a solution, they used peden or peace pact. Following this, these are the paluyod, danyos, and the subli. He paid the amount of the carabao and was given to those who helped the owner in the search (paluyod). Next, he gave a fine to the owner for the inconvenience (danyos). Lastly, the carabao was returned to the owner (subli). This was a real story of a carabao that was stolen in Sabnagan in 1998. There basis of settlement is by law of culture, its Bodong.

A study was conducted to understand bodong as a basis of sustainability of peace and justice system. This was researched by Doctors of Education, Andres T. Malinnag and Leticia M. Benabese.

As defined in the study, bodong is an Indigenous Conflict Management System (ICMS) or tribal justice system among tribes in some of the municipalities of Abra in particular and in the Cordillera Region in general. Today, bodong is a respected institution in the mainstream of the government as an indigenous technical panel that caters conflict management in a wide range capacity resulting to a peace accord in the Cordillera.

This practice was used to settle criminal and civil cases. These cases include geographical boundary conflicts like the Abra vs. Mt.Province and Luba vs. Tamak, Ilocos Sur; tribal wars between Maeng and Bekigan in Sadangga; the case killing of a person belonging in Maeng Tingguian tribe. Also, it was used in settling by conflicts caused by government projects initiatives which cause suffering for community people.

Bodong as a peace-pact has cultural practices and formation as found out in the study. These are Sipat, Singlip, Allatiw or Allasiw, and Delnat.

Sipat. The people involved in a peace-pact will give gifts to each other. This may be in cash or in kind as a sign of acceptance. However, each of the two tribes must observe or watch out for good to avoid bad omen. After, they butcher animals and check its liver. They do this to determine the condition of time either its good or bad. If the liver has many lesions or has too many lines, this means that the prospective of peace pact will not be very successful. Because of this, they postpone the activity. On the other hand, if the bile is clean and healthy, they will proceed.

Singlip. The two tribes involved will get acquainted with each other. This is considered sacred. This is initiated by the peace pact holders. As the first part of the celebration, the peace pact provision known as pagta is discussed and prepared. For the Maeng tribe, celebration may last in two to three days and may sometimes last up to a week depending on the economic capacity of the peace pact holder of the community. They dance and sing for that span of days. People sing native songs lively, what they call uggayam and salidummay. The second part is the inum. Peace pact holders, guarantors along with the community drink basi (sugarcane wine) or tapey (rice wine) together.

Allatiw or Allasiw. To reciprocate efforts done by the efforts of the former, they review the pagta, promulgate it and then put it in effect. Along with this is a festive celebration.

Delnat. This is a form of great celebration. This is done when the pact is not broken for several years. Its purpose is to strengthen the pact and peace celebration of the community involved. In a form of celebration, a renewal of the peace pact is undertaken. The Maeng believes that this should be done. In the opposite, some terms and practices should be done as well.

Bug-oy happens when the bodong or peace pact had ended because of great violations of the pagta.

Kipas happens when the bodong is totally broken. The gifts given at the time of sipat are returned to each other. With this, both peace pact holders pay fines which are usually in the form of animals.

Another is the galigad or the process of transferring a peden to another holder. In the history of Maeng, there are only two reasons for this; either one of the peace pact holders had passed away or because of the Bug-oy. To whom it will be transferred has a lot of choices. It can be to the following, the wife of the pact holder; the son if he capable; the eldest son if there are several sons; a nearest relative if he has no son; the baugan or the violator of the peden; or somebody chosen by the community if none is qualified.

It is indeed that the world is full of injustice. Others struggle a lot to have some. While peace is a great factor to unity, one injustice can ruin thousands of relations for years. To this, bodong in the Abra and the neighboring provinces as a means of sustaining peace and as a justice system holds significance to people’s unity.

In the recommendation of the study, it was proposed that Indigenous Peoples’ cultural practices and tradition and justice system should be studied via research in all provinces of the Cordillera region.

To do this, The National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) together with other concerned national agencies shall allocate funding for this regional research.

Results of the in depth study considering the first recommendation could be a stronger basis for justifying the integration of the IPs cultural practices and traditions in all Public University Colleges and State University Colleges of the Cordillera region.

“From sustainability of peace and order, bodong is supporting development of confidence and self-reliance for economic growth and development”, said Domingo in 2007 in his article, “Kasapulan pay Laeng ti Kalinga ti Budong (Kalinga Needs Bodong)”. // Denden Aliman Pagatpatan


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