Tribal river ritual celebrated to help spare Cagayan from another tragedy

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/10 March 2012) — Indigenous People (IP) of the Higaonon tribe from the 13 barangays here and tribal leaders of Bukidnon together with the Manobo tribe from Agusan in Caraga region urged the communities and the local leaders to return to the old ritual practices to ask forgiveness and offerings to the rivers, creeks, and the forest in the hopes that the tragedy of Sendong will not happen again.

Last Wednesday, March 7,2012, a ritual slaughter of 200 chickens, two pigs and one cow was offered to the river spirit known to the Higaonon as “Pamuhat alang sa Kinaiyahan: Pamumulakaw, Tulod-tulod sa Suba,”  near the Pelaez Bridge in Barangay Upper Balulang.

“The purpose andessence of this ritual is to pay homage and offer prayer to thespirits that is of the river. Our forefathers use to practice thesedifferent rituals to guide and protect them from danger. But as years passby,  our people has forgotten the tradition and prayers that we offerand this has brought death and destruction during Sendong,” saidDatu Masikampo or Victor Magay of the Higaonon tribe from BarangayBisigan, of the hinterland barangays bordering Lanao del Sur.

Datu Masikampo stressed that the practice should be done annually so that the tragedy will not happen again in the future.

Datu Ontong known asFidel Bisoy Jr. Cagayan de Oro City Tribal Chieftain explained to the guests during the ritual that the influence of different religious affiliations in the territories of the Higaonon tribe has been the reason the practice of the ritual stopped.

“They stopped celebrating the ritual because their new found faith taught them that the old rituals and prayers to deities was a sin. We believe that the traditions will cause no harm but will help in caring for the environment and make it a better place for our children,” he said.

Datu Ontong pointed out that there are tribesmen who had already engaged themselves to too much modernization by watching television and other worldly things that they forget the sacred purpose, the sacred responsibilities of the tribes, to the environment and to the world. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)