H. THE BELLIAN DANCE – ITS STORY

There is a ritual dance called “bellian” by the kalanguyas or “bindian” by the Ibalois. This is performed in connection with a ritual for prosperity. It is a community dance performed by following a leader holding a spear and a head of snake made from fern and accompanied by the gongs. It is performed dancing in series of circles with one center. The outermost circle is the older men, and the women at one circle dancing in the opposite direction. Boys at the innermost circle dance moving in the opposite the women. Aside from uniform steps, there are hand gestures that are being followed. The center is the gong players. The origin of this dance is a legend of the people of Gueoeng and the people of Kapangan.

Legend has it that there was once a pair of snakes called “Balbalatnek” or “Balatnek” that lived in a cave along the stretch of Amburayan River particularly at Coba, Legleg in Balakbak near Paykek. These snakes were very friendly and helped people cross the river by riding at their back. Unfortunately, a lady who happened to be at her monthly period rode and her menstruation stained the snake. The stains and foul odor could not be washed and made the snakes angry. From then on, they wantonly kill people at sight and hunt them for food. They had terrorized people causing them to migrate to safer places. Yet they were never safe. Thus, a community meeting was held and had a consensus to reward anybody who could kill the snakes with “lima ay dagi ay tali” (five packs of rope around 250 rolls literally, but use the ropes to tie all animals that could be taken from the people).

One time, a woman from Amlimay happened to visit some relatives in Legleg and happened to hear the plight of the people. Upon returning home she consulted an elder, a “mambunong” named Baglaw and his brother. Immediately the mambunong set up a plan and called some people from Buguias to proceed to Legleg with three “payok”, large cooking pots that each could accommodate a big carabao.

On their journey to Legleg, they had a stopover at Sagpat overlooking the cave where pair of snakes lives. A ritual was performed with an offering of one chicken to interpret the appearance of the vile for omen. Mambunong Baglaw announced that the snakes were asleep and the people stealthily approached the cave and found the snake in a state announced by Baglaw. Immediately they covered the snake with the pots and covered with firewoods and set it on fire. With wriggling and struggling, two “payoks” were broken but the last held although partially broken. Upon investigation, only one snake burned to death. The other could not be found.

Thence, the people of Legleg rewarded them but only half the promise since only one snake was killed. The group then proceeded to tie all animals they could see to take them home. Part of the reward was the head of the snake.

On their return home, they were hindered by a storm along the way and had to camp at Madaymen. Huts were made to house the people and the animals until the storm abated. Until now, the place is called Apa’n Baglaw (Huts of Baglaw).

When the people reached home, they moved to Paynag, part of Gueoeng. There, they hung the head of Balatnek on one of the trees and had feast using their reward animals. With much joy, all the community danced, thus, the origin of “Billian”.

There was an area for doing some work during the celebration and they named it Laga-an. Until now, the name applies. Because of envy, somebody stole the snake head and hid in a farmhouse. Unfortunately the farmhouse was burned. From then on, the Billian was never performed.

In Coba, the cave was eroded by a strong typhoon and Laga-an is now leveled and made a vegetable garden. Meantime, the Billian also called Bindian is performed by other ethnic groups.