Issue of December 3, 2017

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Ibaloy clan revives ritual to call on spirits of ancestors
by Ofelia C. Empian

DAWIT -- After four decades, the dawit or the welcoming of the spirits of ancestors, was performed by the descendants of Kivas and Comiw who were said to have been buried in the vicinity of City Hall. The descendants led by spiritual elder Vicky Macay (r) started their ritual at City Hall and from there walked to the Ibaloy Heritage Park where they continued their ritual welcoming the spirit of the ancestors to join them in their clan reunion. The practice is now rarely done by Ibaloy families. -- Ofelia Empian

It was in the 1960’s that the last dawit, a centuries-old ritual of the Ibaloys, was performed to call on the spirits of ancestors of Kivas and Comiw to grace their family gathering in Baguio recently.

Four decades later, the dawit was again performed as the Kivas-Comiw clan conducted their latest clan reunion.

“We have called on their spirits for them to feel the love of their descendants, for them to see how big we are now,” Jackson Chiday, the clan’s spokesperson said.

He said the dawit should be conducted sincerely that’s why it must be the mambunong (native priest or spiritual elder) that should do the ritual.

Vicky Macay, a clan member and one of the Ibaloy community’s recognized mambunong, conducted the ritual.

The ritual started at City Hall, near the City Environment and Parks Management Office because it was in this area that is believed to be the resting place of Kivas and Comiw.

Five of the clan’s elders conducted the ritual. Rice wine or tapey were poured into coconut shells and prayers were offered to the spirits. Then the rolled rice stalks, with cigarettes inserted inside to fuel the stalks, were lighted.

As the smoke starts to roll upwards, the descendants start their walk from the City Hall to the streets going to the Ibaloy Heritage Park where the reunion was set.

Another ritual was conducted at the avong at the Ibaloy Heritage Park. While smoke continues to emanate from the rice stalk, two cups of steaming brewed coffee were offered as the mambunong continues to whisper prayers, welcoming the couple’s spirits. Then two bilaos (circular woven trays) filled with sets of changing clothes, money, and drinks were offered for the spirits.

A small pig was butchered.

“Before usually it was a big cañao, but nowadays we cannot afford with the economic condition, that’s why we now conduct (simple) clan reunion,” Chiday said.

He added that the smoke coming from the rice stalks are the signals for the spirits to follow.

Chiday said with the passing of time, only few families are conducting the dawit, though during cañao’s, the spirits of all the ancestors are being called to celebrate with the families conducting the cañao. Also in their case, it was unlike before that they needed to butcher many pigs to feed the community. He said they also have to adapt to changing times and provide other alternatives to the otherwise expensive ritual.

Their clan is part of the bigger Bitnay-Batil-Dangeg and the Sumayao-Chasoy Ibaloy clans of Loakan.

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