My mother is from Bangnin and my father is from Bugang, Sagada, Mountain Province. We are 7 in the family; 4 brothers and 1 sister and I am the last child. Two of us live at present and the rest are with the Lord.
My family ate camote, pinakpak (mashed camote mixed with rice), inigad or inkidlos. During ubaya (rest day), we have the chance to eat rice. I used to join friends trap kaling in the field by using what we called “ubeh”. Usually, we position our ubeh during night time and pick them up in the early morning approximately at 4.00 a.m.
We also go to the mountain to gather wild mushroom as our additional viand. I used to collect firewood in the mountain and sold per bundle for approximately 2 - 3 cents. It’s not easy from my barrio to gather firewood because we have to leave the house as early as 5.00 o’clock in the morning reaching the mountain forest mountain at about 9.00 a.m. From Bugang we have to take the steep way up to Masaline. The old folks encourage us to get the firewood far from our barrio because those trees nearby are only for emergency use and must be preserved.
There are good memories, from my beloved land. As a young boy, I am trained to cut fire wood. There are moments when I felt scared in the middle of the woods because of the noisy sound of water in the river, the whistling sound of pine trees accompanied by the sound of the bird and as if there are anitos (spirits) around. It is common for boys to gather fire wood when there are no classes or if they do not go to help in the farm or field.
In my barrio, we have the dap-ay (council house) where the amam-a (old men) gather in the evening. They build camp fire to make them warm. My father sent me to sleep in a dap-ay where I got trained to do the foot massage (dagdagay). The amam-a require us to carry firewood when we report in the evening. We got caned if we report with an empty hand or if we carry few firewood. We were caned many times, because if some didn’t bring firewood with them and we share what the rest bring, it appears that each brought few pieces. Still, the boys enjoy the spirit of camaraderie. The amam-a discipline the boys by giving pieces of advice, sharing good examples and others when they are required to sleep in the dap-ay. One value that they emphasize is to help the elders when they are carrying heavy things.
During my time, we enjoy the courtship “anag” activity. We group ourselves to visit babasang (single ladies) in an old maid’s house where the ladies are gathered. It is where I experienced my 1st gesgesto (head massage) done by the ladies. Also, inawa, when the men peep on ladies.
Between 2-3 years of age, I used to join my mother light a fire (men-apoy) in the fields and farm to call for a spirit to cure my sister’s goiter. I entered the 1st grade when I was age 6. Those years, I used to wear only the upper shirt made of canvas for a cover.
In the 4th grade, I wore pants for the first time because I was one of those who joined the competition in declamation. This was also the year when I was baptized and given the name Patrick, aside from my Igorot name, Layugan. During my graduation ceremony in the elementary, none of my parents attended because they are observing “lawa” (avoidance.) In spite of their absence, I was quite excited using for the first time a shoes with a brand “Elpo” (shoes that is good today and goodbye tomorrow). We then proceeded with my classmates to explore the Sumaguing cave which is not quite far from our school.
This is my simple and adventurous life back in Bugang which I treasure much until now. These experiences brought me to where I am at present, having a big heart for people, flexible and open. I understand other’s culture because I have my own.
About the Author
Patrick Bounggick, Sr. has lived and worked in Vienna, Austria. He is married to Cristabel “Dono” Olat-Bounggick. They have three children and four grandchildren. Now retired, Patrick spends some months in Vienna and some in the Philippines. They have a farm and a hotel in Tabuk City, Kalinga, Philippines.