A. The Legend of Apo Anno

A Long time ago, Tugtugaka, a brave chieftain of Nabalicong set out to hunt a white deer, which had eluded many hunting trips and had posed a big challenge to many hunters. Tugtugaka got obsessed with the deer and spent many countless days and nights, which greatly exhausted him. Then one day, his dog sensed the white deer and the hunting ensued. After covering a great distance of running and tracking, the deer was finally trapped against a waterfall. Spear in hand and ready, Tugtugaka poised for a good strike when he heard a soft and powerful woman’s voice “Don’t hurt my pet.” Bewildered, Tugtugaka saw a young woman bathing by the crystalline waterfall. Tugtugaka was so awed with her beauty and nakedness, as he did not understand why he didn’t notice her earlier by the waterfall. She continued: “My name is Cuyapon, and that deer is my pet. Don’t hurt it lest you get the ire of the folks. This place is our home.” Tugtugaka was so puzzled. He saw neither sign of dwelling nor of human activity.

As she was dressing, “I see that you are a brave man, and I suppose, you are a good leader of your village,” she commented. “Come inside, you are hungry and in need of rest. You are exhausted. We can also talk so that you will understand my folks,” she said as she led him to a small cave opening. Tugtugaka was even more surprised when, as they reached the cave opening, it became a spacious entrance, and inside, a room only meant for a princess. All around are serenity and a paradise. Soon, he realized what he entered is no ordinary world and Kuyapon is no ordinary mortal! She is a fairy who becomes visible when she likes. At the end of the meeting, Tugtugaka left for home with a sackful of meat more than what he could have obtained from the white deer. “Keep our encounter a secret,” he was advised.

From then on, Tugtugaka visited the fairy regularly and they fell in love with each other. Realizing that their love is to be blessed with a child, Kuyapon instructed Tugtugaka: “Don’t come back until eight moons and a half from now.” After laboring wait, Tugtugaka returned to find Kuyapon delivering a child. It was a healthy baby boy. He was advised: “Go home and come back only after eight moons and a half from now. You have to take out our child since he cannot live here. His mortal blood destroys the air of peace of our world. But take good care of him as I do in my spirit way. He will grow to be a good hunter and a worthy father of your village. Give him the name Anno, for he will shadow his generation with abundance and good will.”

Anno was then taken by Tugtugaka and raised to be a brave man and a good hunter. As a leader, his saga includes repealing the “buso” (headhunters from another place and other enemies), yet he was a peaceful man and abhorred waging war even against the “buso” which earned him the respect of his villagers and other tribes. He used to hunt along the river now named after him, the Agno River.

As Anno was in his advanced age and sensing death is near, he asked to be buried in a place now called Nabalikong. The people protested about his coffin; a large hollowed log would be too heavy to be carried over a mountain. “Just float it on the river, it will be carried by the river to the site,” he instructed. The people were puzzled because the burial cave is higher than the river and the river does not pass through the burial site. “You will find people to help you there and animals and food to eat,” he further said. Nevertheless they followed his instructions and indeed, the coffin floated all the way to the burial site. They also met people to assist, the food and animals as he said. Since Anno has a high status and is a regarded man in the village, he has to be mummified; mummification is a long process. Right after his last breath, they opened his mouth and forced him with strong brine solution. They even used their mouth to pump the solution into his stomach. After three days, his body was bathed with different kinds of herbs alternately every day. After the bath, the body was sun-dried. The process went for at least three months. Every day, his animals were butchered for food of the people doing the work. After it had dried and hardened, his body was put in the coffin to be interned in a cave. His generation flourished and peopled many villages far and wide from Benguet to Ifugao and Vizcaya.