Cordillera Rhythm and Harmony (first in a series)



By Fr Samuel Maximo and Geneviève Balance Kupang

Ayuweng emanates from the sacred land, heartbeat and music of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera. The lively sound beats of the earth in harmony with the umilthe songs (of the village), the sound of kalaleng Where tongali (nasal flute), awong (sound) gongs, among others are precious gifts from Kabunian (Supreme Being). Ayuweng encompasses the range of natural sounds that abound in the surrounding area— ayuweng di dagem (wind noise), ayuweng di danum (rustling of streams or babbling of rivers), chirping of birds, choirs of insects, outpouring of rain, thunder and lightning and the rustle of trees and grasses, all this gives the inhabitants of Montañosa their complex and deep connection to the land. In addition, the Cordilleras which are deeply rooted in their cultural heritage sing, play their gongs and other musical instruments during celebrations and festivities, invocation to the Supreme Being, ngilin (observances) associated with rice cultivation, rites of passage, and life cycle events such as birth, coming of age, labor, healing rituals, pacts of peace, marriage and death.

Awong chi gang-sa held in Kalinga (The sound of 1000 gongs). Credit: EMP Productions, AP. Media and Mauricio E. Patongao

This series presents a collection of audiovisual presentations; a combination of video clips and image slides embedded in music. In these, you will see the beauty, wonder and sanctity of our place and our culture that people of Indigenous or non-Indigenous descent must respect and preserve.

The audio-visual presented in this series is our humble contribution to the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis “Laudato Si ‘(On the care of our common home) drawing the attention of the Church to the respect and care for the gift of Creation that God has endowed us with; our Creator and Source all life. Note that the indigenous peoples have long learned to live in harmony and with a deep respect for nature as it is imprinted in their hearts and in their awareness that the earth is sacred. And that the earth is life.

At the dawn of the 20e century, various American and European missionaries such as the Anglicans, the Catholic Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM or “The Belgian Fathers”) and, later, the Sisters of the ICM, and other Christian denominations who arrived on our land, came to us with the mentality that they brought us the Gospel to evangelize us. However, the truth is that worshiping God and connecting people with the Divine was an integral part of our culture; lived and experienced in the daily lives of our people long before missionaries came to us, and they soon learned that they were to “take off their shoes and sandals because they were standing in our holy land” (Exodus 3 : 5, also cf. Joshua 5: 14-15).

This presentation is part of my own research. As such, the images that you will see in the videos are narrative collections of community life and the culture of Montañosa people taken at various locations since 2009. While I have been careful in my labeling of the presentations, there could be some misrepresentation of events, people and dates. No copyright infringement intended. There might be “original” authors of songs, music, pictures and videos that might not be properly recognized – I sincerely apologize for such a misrepresentation. I am also solely responsible for any misspelled or mispronounced words (Maximo, S. 2021).

With regard to the objectives of environmental, socio-economic development and pedagogy, it is a call to all Cordilleras respect Creation, defend our unique and magnificent culture and be proud of our identity. We continue to show our visitors (local and foreign tourists and businesses) what we have inherited from our ancestors: our indigenous knowledge, skills, spirituality and practices (IKSSP), our wisdom to take care of our mother earth, our home . To our guests from other parts of the world, we ask you to respect our place and not totally ignore our customary practices and traditions. We must engage in an “ecological conversion” and a transformative management of Creation as the encyclical demands of us. We owe future generations a thriving environment full of unspoiled natural resources. In essence, intergenerational ecological justice. We learned from our ancestors that our ecosystem is sacred. Creation is an integral part of the web of life that we must preserve and protect, whatever faith we profess.

This video presentation is also dedicated to those who work for the inculturation of our faith and for liturgical celebrations. We thank the CICM / Belgian Fathers and the ICM Sisters for the work of “evangelization” here in Montañosa (with regard to the Catholic Church). Nevertheless, the faith they professed to us is natively foreign and tasty European! Today we have learned to express our faith in our own language and culture. We now have the feeling of “Uka tako na! “(it is ours! our own profession of faith, in the manner of our ancestors who knew God long before the arrival of the European).

BEBSAT SAN KAIGORATAN (Fraternity and fraternity in the Montañosa) The first video in a series

Indigenous production of sugar cane in Sadanga, mountain province.
Photo credit: Bro. William Moguigui and the Pusong community, Anabel, Sadanga, Mountain Province

This song expresses the essence of brotherhood and brotherhood deep in the Cordilleras. The images you see in the video speak of the exquisite beauty of culture, living tradition and creation.

Words and music by Francis Cayasen; performed by Fr. Samuel Maximo and Sendong Salvacio. English translation: Geneviève Balance Kupang

Cordillera mountain people
Beloved of the Supreme Being
Since time immemorial
Throughout our ancestors

God has endowed us with living traditions
And an identity specific to our tribe
Deep indigenous wisdom of which
we shouldn’t be ashamed or give up

Wisdom and instruction
Modern or that of the ancient past
Shouldn’t get a bad rap
Our dear culture so true and delicate

Should we ignore our culture
We lose our distinctive identity
And forget who we really are
Not knowing the basic story

Multitudes of customs and traditions
Songs, dances, warm treatment of the guests
Cooperation, peace pact and kinship ties
We protect the dear life that is so precious

Customs and uses we defend
Optimism and hope that we must maintain
Although moments that pass may pass
Yet through time they will endure

Now my beloved family
Unite and unite
By defending our culture
Enrich our ancestral land of the Cordillera

Sing the native melody
Dongdong-ay Si Dong-ilay
Dongdong-ay Si Dong-ilay
Aouch aouch

In the original dialect:

Bebsat san Kaigorotan
Nilaylayad in Kabunian
Manipud pay laeng sin kaysan
Babaen din kaapuan

If Kabunian inted na san ugali
Pakailasinan di puli
Duwan sursuro a nasudi
‘Di ibaen wenno ipakni

San sursuro ken adal
Moderno ken kadaanan man
Adi na kuma dangranan
Kultura a kapintasan

No bay-bay-am din kultura
Mapukaw mo ladawan dadama
Malipatam did not meet any sinnu ka
San rugin di istorya

Ad-adu a ugali
Ayug, sala, panang-sangaili
Kooperasyon ken bud-budong
Alikam di biag a nabanor

San ugali entako piliin
Namnama’y entako aywanan
Nangruna no maiparbeng
Isnan layos din panawen

Edwani ay kakadwa
Entako mankaykaysa
Mangilaban si kultura
Isnan Kaigorotan ay daga

Dongdong-ay Si Dong-ilay
Dongdong-ay Si Dong-ilay
Aouch aouch

About the videographer, performer and author:


Bro. Sammie is from Palina, Kibungan, Benguet where he was ordained priest in December 1989. In high school he started singing, playing native instruments and the guitar. This interest in music grew even more when he entered the seminary. Gifted as he is, he recorded Siak ti Silaw ti Lubong (I am the light of the world, John 8:12); Boyfriend. Mike San Juan, SVD was the lyricist and Paul Mauriat’s Serenade to Summertime was the music. He uses his talent to evangelize and entertain in concerts dubbed Evangelainment, a term coined by Fr. Oscar Alunday, SVD. Bringing the faithful closer to God, while being deeply rooted in the culture, Fr. Sammie began to organize concerts since 1998. His compositions raise awareness among people of respect for the environment and the protection of the cultural heritage handed down by our ancestors. . He believes that if Christ were alive in this digital age, he will use all available means to preach.

About the author and translator:

Genevieve Balance Kupang (Genie) is an anthropologist, consultant, researcher and advisor to individuals and organizations working for good governance, real leadership, justice, integrity of creation, peace, indigenous peoples, preservation of cultures and societal transformation processes. . She is a peace educator, author, practitioner of interfaith dialogue and resource person with a career in academia and in an NGO.


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