1. Social Organization
In the family the father is considered the decision-maker although both husband and wife have responsibilities in economic production. They both work in the fields and take care of raising animals. The woman is expected to take care of the children although both parents help in integrating the young into the culture.
In community affairs it is usually the man who participates in the discussion and decision-making. Planning activities are also the responsibility of the men. The women participate by implementing what is delegated to them.
In terms of inheritance, males have priority over lands because the female who gets married leaves the place. The husband is expected to take care of her. The house is given to the child who is the last to live there.
The general practice when it came to marriage was endogamy-marrying within the community. Genealogies in the community reveal that people were interrelated. The marriage of kin was also allowed in order to keep property within the clan. At the same time marriage between disputing parties was a solution to end the dispute
B. Life cycle
A mother gives birth on her own or with the help of a midwife (agpalusot or mampa-anak/partera). The traditional midwife is usually a relative such as husband, parent or grandparent. After assisting in delivery, the midwife washes her hands with a slippery soil called lubas. This can also be used as shampoo.
When a child is born, food preparations to ensure the well-being of the mother are made. The family butchers a chicken pinikpikan style. Ginger is added to the stew and the soup is given to the mother. It is believed that the mother will produce more milk. In addition, seeds of the pallang/bikan(Ib.) are roasted and given to the mother as a cleansing agent. The leaves of the shangla(Ib)/dangla shrub are boiled and the water is used by the mother for bathing.
If the child is a boy, the family brings out rice wine or tapey and call neighbors and friends to celebrate. Boys are preferred because they can go out to work while girls work only at home.
The mother is required to rest for two months. The practice is called mangngilin. Food considered taboo is jackfruit. She is encouraged to eat papaya and chicken boiled with ginger.
A mother carries her baby on her back using a blanket. Caring for the child is a cooperative endeavor with the help of adults in the households.
C. Courtship and Marriage
Kalon - This is the traditional way of courtship among the Ibaloy. When a young man is interested in a girl, he will ask and older person to visit the girl and ask her if she wants to marry the young man. If the girl agrees, the wedding will immediately follow.
Kaising – This is another way of courtship where the parents of the girl and the boy decide that the two should marry. In most cases this agreement is reached when the children are still young. To conclude the agreement, the parents will butcher one or two four-legged animals like pigs, carabaos or cows. For young couples, a young pig or cow may be butchered. The elders called panglakayen or mambunong (religious practitioner) will bless the animals and the ceremony. This ceremony is performed to let everyone in the community know that when the boy and girl reach the age of maturity, they will be married to each other.
Another ritual is performed when the couple are of age to signify that they can now live as husband and wife. Animals butchered for the feast are cows, carabaos and pigs which come in pairs of male and female. Before the meat is served, boiled gabi and camote are given. After the feast, a piece or pieces of raw meat are distributed to the guests to bring home.
One reason for the kaising practice is that when the boy and girl are married, the parents’ remain within the two families. Another is that this is also a way of strengthening the friendship between tribes and to resolve conflict between two clans or families.
The party that breaks away from the agreement has to repay all expenses incurred. They also suffer public censure.
Sihop/suhong (Forced marriage) – There are several reasons for this kind of marriage. When a girl becomes deformed or disabled as a result of an incident caused by the boy during their youth. Whether the incident was intentional or accidental, the boy is constrained to marry the girl when they grow up.
Parents decide who their children should marry. The young couple are kept in a cage-like structure or a room until both agree that they should get married or the marriage is consummated. They are usually kept in the room for three days. The person who refuses will be penalized.
Kalon – This type of parental arrangement is not enforced. If any or both refuse,
no marriage rituals take place. However, the parents and community exert effort to convince the couple.
A couple lives with the groom’s parents until the groom is able to build his own house.
The ilaw is performed when somebody gets sick after cutting a tree. It is believed that the illness was caused by a spirit in the tree whose permission was not asked before the tree was cut. Old coins, rice wine, tobacco, lime, betel nut and leaf are brought by the mambunong to the place where the tree was cut and offered to the ampasit.
Illness is believed to be caused by nature spirits and ancestor spirits that must be propitiated through ritual offerings. A pig is butchered for a sick person and a mambunong inspects the bile. If it looks shiny and healthy, this means that the spirits are satisfied with the offering. If not, another pig is butchered until the mambunong says that the spirit is satisfied.
A poor Ibaloy is buried immediately. The well-to do bury their dead on the 4th, 6th, 8th or 10th day. A variation would be burial either on the 4th, 7th, 9th, or 16th day. The last is applicable to the rich or kadangyan. If one’s father was buried after 4 days, one should not exceed it. The wake should last 4 days or less.
The wake of a child lasts four days while a married person with children has a wake from 7-12 days. The dead person is covered with a death blanket called kulabao aside from ordinary clothing.
In the past a rich person would be placed on a wooden death chair or sangchil or saradan. A vat of boiling herbs and leaves are placed under the sangchil to preserve the body. Family members seat and eat near the chair. A mambunong also performs rituals near the body. Everyday of the wake , a male and female animal of the same species, is butchered, cooked and served to the people. The same is true with a person who has been raising animals like dog, chicken or cow in life.
When a person dies, his body is bathed and clothed and then placed on a wooden coffin. Traditionally, the coffin should have no iron nails. The number of animals such as pigs or cows butchered depends on his economic status. Friends and relaties come to the wake to chant the ba’diw and partake of the meat. Rice wine or tapey is passed around.
The Ibaloy prefer to bury their dead under the house where it will not get wet. A variation is for the body to be buried under the edge of a roof so that rain falls on the grave. Others bury their dead in their land to prove ownesrhsip. The dead are also interred in caves or rock overhangs in the mountains. A male’s head faces east while the female’s head faces west. Secondary burial or ka-il is also practiced. The dead person’s remains are retrieved and the bones are cleaned and arranged in proper order and later wrapped in a blanket before interment. The ritual is presided over by a mambunong. Animals are butchered and served to the people. Rice wine or tapey is also served.
There are various reasons for holding secondary burial. A person who dreams of a dead relative must perform the ritual as the latter may need new clothes/blankets or need to be remembered. A person who leaves the area as a result of migration or land sale brings along the dead. In case of development projects that affect burial grounds, expenses for secondary burial rituals are shouldered by the project.
Deben- rest day for those who attended a burial. It is believed that something bad will happen to someone who attended a burial and later goes out with friends. The rest period usually lasts for three days.
2. Economic Organization
A. Hunting and foraging
The forest was a source of food for the people in the past as in the present. The people depended on wild food plants which supplemented their produce during lean times or just before harvest when food sources were running out. This period is called bitil. Some of these root crops are kadod, kalot, gakad and kapongao, all described as “survival crops.” Honey from the forest was collected and used as a trade good.
The forest was also their source of protein supplied by wild pigs, deer, monkeys and other smaller animals and fowl which they caught with the use of hunting dogs , spears and traps called bito. The bito was a pit covered with leaves. Embedded in the pit were sharp wood and bamboo stakes pointed upwards. Birds were also caught with traps. To protect their rice fields, farmers would rub a wooden pole or stick with the sticky sap of a vine and stick several poles around the field. At the end of the day birds would be glued to these poles which are collected and brought home to be cooked
Hunters offered part of the meat to the spirits especially if the catch was big. The animal’s hair was singed over a fire before it was cleaned and butchered. The roasted liver would be offered to the spirits or anito who were believed to own these animals. The dogs were also given their share of roasted foot tips and intestines (Bagamaspad & Pawid).
Root crops were the subsistence food of the people in the past and which were raised in the swiddens. With the introduction of rice farming practices expanded from dry agriculture to wet-rice. Aside from swiddens, paddies had to be constructed along areas where water was accessible.
1. Agricultural cycle
Swidden Agriculture/ Kaingin
Land preparation starts before the rainy season. Land selected for this type of farming is first cleaned by cutting branches of trees and grass. After a week when the brush is dry, the latter is gathered in the center of the field and burned. If the fire spreads, the community is mobilized to help stop the fire (shep-shep). One who causes fire through negligence is penalized.
Planting starts after the first heavy rain. With the use of a pointed wooden rod, root crops like gabi, kamote and ginger are planted. Palay is also planted as a main crop and surrounded by other vegetable crops, creating a diversified field. The farmer visits the swidden to clear it of weeds.
The swidden or uma is cultivated for an average of four years and then left to fallow for about six years to allow the soil to regenerate.
When one burns his swidden, he informs his neighbor or the whole community to avoid burning of houses and to alert the people so they are prepared to help in case of wildfire. The former also clears his boundary and puts the cut grass and brush in piles inside his swidden. Clearing the boundaries is called gasidan. A related term is daik or the cleared area or fire line around the field.
Wet- rice agriculture
In areas where water is available, rice paddies are constructed. These are usually located along the rivers or below mountain springs. Bamboo pipes (taroy) are used to bring water to the paddies. Irrigation canals (adaan or payas) were also constructed.
Before the rainy season, water is coursed to the paddy , after which the land is plowed. The paddies are immersed in water for a month to facilitate the decaying of weeds and grasses which serve as fertilizer and soil conditioner. The rice seedlings which have earlier been planted in a smaller field, are harvested and planted in the prepared paddies. This activity is done by women who also visit the paddies after a few months and remove the weeds. The men see to it that water continues to flow into the fields by cleaning the canals and making sure that the water is not diverted.
Apart from the water immersion method, another practice is for the plowed field to get dry in order that the weeds and seeds will dry up or decay. These also serve as fertilizers. Due to impatience and competition, farmers seldom practice this now. This practice is called kulada.
The practice of building stone or mud walls around paddies to prevent erosion is called kabiti. Canals or drainage systems are built to channel excess water from their fields to prevent destruction of plants and rice fields during the rainy season.
The rice variety planted in the first cropping which starts in January is the kintuman. The second crop planted in July and harvested in December is the sarujaw.
Traditionally, the people in Tuba planted upland rice on land irrigated only during the rainy season. The land is loosened with the use of a carabao and plow after which rice grains are dropped into holes made by driving a wooden stick into the ground. Usually, the man walks ahead and makes the holes, followed by the woman who drops a few grains into a hole and covers it with soil using her foot. The field is visited by the man to keep birds from eating the grain. To scare the birds, he can put a scarecrow in the field or tie plastic strips on a string which he can hang on long sticks or poles placed around the field. The sap of a particular plant is rubbed on a pole and stuck on the ground in the field. The sticky sap serves as glue to catch birds and other pests touching it.
The months of June and July are the time for planting rain-fed lands. Planting must be done at this time to avoid pests. Farmers believe that when one plants in August, plants will be infested with many various pests. If sowing is done earlier, the plants will have already drown big and resistant to pests by the time August comes.
Harvesting is done in the months of September, October and November. These are believed to be tame or calm months when there is less rain and more sunny weather.
Tools consist of the bolo, ax and plow made of hard wood. Bamboo tubes are filled with seeds and dropped on the ground in swidden and rain-fed fields. The rakem is the iron tool with a wooden handle used for harvesting.
Other Beliefs and practices
Lumit is a form of thanksgiving celebration for the farmer who has just finished planting or harvesting. The farmer butchers an animal or makes traditional rice cakes and calls his neighbors to partake in the celebration. The people believe it is just proper to celebrate so that their planting or harvesting can result in prosperity.
People before were observant about the occurrence of the full moon. They believed that the best time to start their work or any task was on the first occurrence of the full moom because this brings good luck and prosperity. This applies to planting, building a house, setting out on a journey or starting a project. This is still practiced by some residents.
Some of the aquatic food resources were eel(igat),frogs (tingey/tokak) fish called pa-ideng (bunog) and snails. Methods of catching included bamboo fish traps, bait and plants to stun the fish. Some of these are the leaves of the galgal tree and the ofey vine which are pounded and scattered on slow flowing water. This biological poison is called Tuva.
D. Small- scale mining
Because people had few needs and because they believed that a god owned the gold, majority of the people got only what they needed for survival. Also, the simple technology used did not allow them to extract so much within a short period
Gold mining was a lucrative industry which allowed people to acquire goods from the lowlands through trade. Tonglo and the adjoining Itogon were known for their gold mines which the Spanish conquerors wanted to appropriate; thus, the repeated military incursions into the highlands.
Balitok was believed to be the owner of the gold which was supposed to be shared with others in the community. Documents on the history of Benguet during the Spanish Colonial Period picture the baknang as operating gold mines using the labor of their bagaen and abiteg (Bagamaspad & Pawid:46). The gold went to the acquisition of cattle and performance of rituals such as the peshit. In Tuba there was a rich man named Lacamen of Bukiagan who engaged in the gold trade. Another prominent person in Tonglo was Balasiao.
Meanwhile, the majority got their gold from the streams and rivers. The succeeding governments were favorable to the opening of more mines by people not connected with the baknang.
Before opening a tunnel they would butcher a pig and offer this to the spirits guarding the gold so that they would be able to find gold and at the same time be protected. The ritual was performed by the mambunong. If the omen was good as shown by a healthy bile, the miners proceed to dig for gold. After a sufficient amount has been extracted, another pig was offered to the spirits in thanksgiving.
Other beliefs included abstinence from sex or partaking of food such as beef, dog, horse and goat meat. It was also taboo to do mining activities during a wake. Telling indecent stories would result in the disappearance of the gold.
In terms of sharing, the group, including the landowner, would divide the gold equally among themselves. Taboos that were observed included: abstinence from sex and from eating fish and beef; avoidance of gambling and scattering of garbage within the mine site.
Tools used in traditional small-scale mining were:
E.Trading /marketing systems
The people maintained contact with those in the lowlands through trade. They brought down wild game meat, gold, honey and other forest products which they exchanged for commodities like salt, cotton cloth and matches and cattle. Those who had more gold were able to acquire more cows which they pastured on lands which later became their private property. Chinese porcelain jars from the lowlands were also acquired through trade. People, captured in wars or raids were also traded and became lifetime slaves for the buyers. Their position was inherited by their chidren.
F. Indigenous mutual help system
Ammoyo or bayanihan
In order to finish the agricultural work faster the people practice the ammoyo system. This is done by pautang (exchange or loan), in which an individual goes to a neighbor’s rice fields to help in the work. When it is time for thi to do his own planting or harvesting, the individuals for whome he rendered service come to his fields to work. They can hasten completion of the agricultural tasks as a farmer can gather 50 to 100
Traditional agricultural practices involves mutual cooperation and reciprocal labor. The people practice aduyon where a field owner asks others for help in his field, whether it is land clearing, planting, weeding or harvesting. In most cases, the field owner feeds those who work in his field. If he does not, he will have to reciprocate by doing work in the fields of those who helped him. Although he does not pay the workers, he is obligated to feed them. As a sign of reciprocity, he also works in the other people’s fields. According to the people, aduyon is like a debt which has to be repaid not necessarily by working in the fields but by helping carry harvest like bananas from the field to the house or helping in house construction.
As previously discussed, the indigenous mutual help systems practiced are gamal and aduyon. These practices ensure that the field owner has manpower to be able to harvest or clear his fields in a shorter period. Other activities where these are used are in house construction, building irrigation canals or carrying wood.
Gamal differs slightly from aduyon in that the field owner does not have to repay in terms of labor. However, he is obligated to feed those who work in his field. Usually, the field owner butchers a pig or a dog for the people’s lunch. People can finish the work in a day. This practice is still handed to the young but it is slowly fading because people now have the means to pay one’s labor
This is done when an individual likes to take something in kind instead of a day’s wage or makes it as a form of tulong or assistance to the farmer employer whi in turn would return the favor through the tulong or pautang system. For instance, if an individual who comes to work harvests three bundles of palay in a day, the rice field owner takes two bundles and gives him one bundle as his wage. This is still practices until now by a few young farmers.
2. Political Organization
A. Indigenous socio-political institution
The tongtong is made up of male elders in the community who are considered knowledgeable on aspects such as genealogies, community boundaries and have experience regarding the adjudication of community disputes. These elders are referred to as impanama and they usually come from the baknang class(Bagamaspad and Pawid 1985 and Prill-Brett 1987).
Disputes between individuals and families within a community are adjudicated by the impanama in that community. In cases involving two communities , the elders of these communities meet. In adjudicating cases, the tongtong can impose penalties usually in the form of fines and with the approval of the community.
In a dispute, one way of establishing who is at fault is through trial. In Camp 4 two persons are made to stand back to back holding a gabi or kamote of the same size. At a given signal, the two-without turning around- must throw the gabi.kamote at each other. The person who gets hit on the head is judged by the Lupon ng Tagapamayapa as guilty or lying and a fair penalty is declared.
The participatory nature of this institution facilitates the enforcement of penalties imposed. In addition, the manner in which disputes are resolved is non-confrontational, with the purpose of reestablishing good relations. Today, some of the elders are also formal leaders as they are members of the Lupon ng Tagapamayapa and barangay and municipal councils.
Leadership in the community was in the hands of the baknang. The latter, because of his position, used his influence on matters such as who should be whose kaising or who should plant root crops in his estancia. His ability to perform the elaborate peshit further enhanced his prestige and his capacity to command. The Ibaloy baknang are described by Hamada-Pawid (1981) as petty plutocrats.
Like other indigenous peoples, the Ibaloy are traditionally animists and perform rituals for nature spirits to propitiate these in order that the latter will not harm them. They also continue to relate to their ancestors through the performance of rituals. In these activities, animals like pigs are butchered and the mambunong or religious practitioner is called upon to inspect the bile to discern whether or not more animals should be butchered.
Although most of the people have been converted to Christianity, they continue to perform traditional rituals, some of which are offered to the Christian God who is sometimes addressed as Kabunyan. Other rituals continue to be offered to nature spirits and to the ancestors.
Indigenous peoples’ rituals are social, political and religious in nature. A peshit is performed by a rich person to enhance his social prestige and maintain his position as leader. This feast involves the ritual butchering of a number of animals which are prepared for the community and other communities invited. Neighbors donate tapey in jars and root crops brought in kayabang or bamboo basket. Each community brings a pig, and the animals are let loose for the people to catch.
4. Education/indigenous learning systems
The indigenous learning systems ensure that the culture is inculcated in the young. This is done through processes of observation and imitation. The young learn about agricultural practices by going to the fields with their parents and assuming small tasks or imitating them at play.
In the small-scale mining areas, young boys are involved in the industry initially as carriers of gold ore from the production to the processing site. As they grow older, they join the adults in the tunnels. In the same manner, the religious beliefs and practices of the people are transferred to the young through participation and observation in the various feasts and rituals performed in the community.
According to the CLUP, “the municipality is known to be the heart of Ibaloi area situated along the southern part of the province. Based on the CY 2000 NSO survey result.
35.98% of the population speak Ibaloy; 26.48% Ilokano; 10.88% Kankana-ey; 6.82% Pangasinense; 4.37% Ifugao; 3.83% Kalanguya; 3.82% Tagalog; 1.70% Kalinga and 6.14% others.
The “Benguet History” book quotes Scheerer who wrote that Nabaloy was the language of the Ibaloy and which contain elements of “Pangasinan, Ilocano, and a third which may be genuine Nabaloy or which will more probably dissolve itself again upon further examination into various components”(in Bagamaspad & Hamada-Pawid:34).
6. Non-traditional cultural events and practices
Cultural events at the barangay level are the fiestas based on the date of their creation and church fiestas. On the municipal level, the local government initiates the celebration of the municipal-wide event marked by speeches and various entertainment activities. People within and outside the municipality attend and also bring their goods for sale.
Clan reunions have become popular. Relatives either contribute to the expenses or a rich relative can volunteer to undertake all expenses. A program is prepared where selected members are asked to speak while others participate by singing and dancing.
It is during these reunions that the clan’s genealogy is corrected and updated.
IKSPs on Natural Resource Management and Protection
1. Land use and management
The Ibaloy uses lands for residential, agricultural, and spiritual purposes, among others. He also uses it to raise animals such as pigs and cows. Land is the source of flora and fauna he needs for his survival whether these are for food, clothing, house materials or medicine. Like all indigenous peoples, he considers land as the source of life.
How the land is used is influenced by indigenous knowledge. Paddy fields are constructed near water sources, especially beside rivers and streams. These can also be constructed on lower mountain slopes to be irrigated by mountain springs.
Mountain slopes are usually used for swidden farming where crops planted depend only on rain. Flatlands and rolling hills are also used for rain-fed agriculture usually planted to corn and rice
Cows are pastured in open spaces but owners must keep their animals from entering cultivated areas. Violations can result in penalties.
The management of paddy fields is done in coordination and cooperation with adjacent paddy owners and those whose fields are irrigated by the same water source. In water distribution the paddies nearest the source get irrigated first. The owners see to it that the canals are not obstructed to prevent the free flow of water.In the past people practiced cooperative labor to clear or repair the dikes. Those caught diverting water before their schedule were penalized.
Lands are marked by boundaries like stones, fences, water systems, mountains or earthen mounds called baok. A trench built around a portion of a pastureland to keep the cows from straying is also called baok.
In cash vegetable farming, competition for scarce resources like water has led to the deterioration of community sharing and cooperation. Each farmer connects his rubber hose to a source without considering whether his neighbor can have the same access to the resource. Those who were able to connect to the source first are the ones who get ample water supply.
2. Land ownership systems
A. Type of ownership
In the past types of land ownership included private and communal. Private lands are residential and agricultural. Communal would include the forest and pasture lands and owned by a particular community. People had usufruct use to non-private lands and were entitled to the produce. Others could take over the management of the land if the former user decided not to use it.
B. Modes of acquisition
Later, communal pasturelands became privatized when people who had cows laid claim to these. These lands, however, could be used by relatives and bagaen who also accumulated cows and who used some portions for agricultural use. Those who used these lands gave a share of the produce to the landowner.
A person who developed a piece of land for agriculture or residential purposes had ownership right to that land. These landholdings can be transferred to the owner’s heirs.
Land can be acquired through marriage. An example is Mateo Carino who came from Tublay and who married Bayosa who had extensive property in Baguio and the adjoining Chuyo. Being the head of the family, he represented the family in land claims that he later made.
Traditionally, anybody who works the land has prior rights to the fruits of the land and later of ownership through continued use. Some people became big landowners as a result of their use of large tracts of land especially as estancia or pasturelands. In the case of Sioco Carino he persuaded some of his cowherds to settle in Tuba and allowed them use of some of the land until such time that he was able to secure paper documents for these lands. He also brought some of his cowherds to Ansagan. Their descendants are still working on the land Sioco allowed them to use.
The practice of kaising is a way of accumulating property by two families. Here, even relatives are encouraged to marry so that the property remains intact.
Land is also transferred through inheritance. The youngest child gets the biggest share because he/she is expected to stay with the parents for the longer period.
Land can also be acquired by a person when he performs labor for a landowner/ this is called dagbo or compensation for work done. With the introduction of the cash economy, land is transferred through the use of money. The mortgage of land is called salsha. If the mortgagor fails to repay the debt, his land is transferred to the debtor.
Traditionally, land is sold only to people within the community especially relatives. The practice is called daho.
The performance of rituals can also result in the transfer of land from one person to another. When a sick person or his family cannot afford to perform a necessary ritual,
A relative or someone in the community may pay for the animals to be butchered and other expenses. The person’s land can be claimed by the “financier” if he fails to repay what was spent.
The same is true with a dead person. If someone, other than his family spends for the death rituals, the former has the right to claim his land as payment.
C. Land distribution
Land is distributed within the family through inheritance. This is also similar to land transfer. In the past the baknang who claimed large tracts of lands because he had plenty of cows and who had extensive agricultural lands, allowed his pastol and bagaen to use certain portions of his land, usually the peripheries. Some pastol had to go elsewhere when the baknang succeeded in securing paper documents on these lands. Yaris, a pastol of Sioco, moved away from the Tili area when Sioco was able to get documents as proof of ownership of the former pastureland. Other bagaen and pastol were allowed to stay in a baknang’s land without any threat of expulsion.
3. Forest and watershed management and protection plan
A. Flora and fauna
The indigenous socio-political system was an important factor in the operations of the community. The elders had a say on how natural resources were treated. At the same time fear of the spirits were invoked. The Ibaloy believed that the ampasit or malevolent spirit either owned or took care of the trees. Fear of the spirit’s wrath was a means of controlling the extraction of resources and the pollution of water sources.
As previously mentioned, fear of the unseen made people cut only what they need. Before cutting, they perform the madmad which is asking permission by saying “Oy ke-nan kayod tan.” This means “look out so that you will not get hit.” After the tree is felled , they shout, “Tamala e kiyo ginan kayod tan.” By performing this ritual, they believe that their kitchen utensils will not be destroyed once they cut trees. They also believe that this will propitiate the spirit and will not do them harm.
The belief that the forest is the habitation of good and bad spirits was a deterrent to rampant destruction since spirits are known to do harm. Also the belief that trees, especially large ones, were the dwelling places of spirits kept people from cutting down or destroying these. The use of smaller or younger trees for lumber was encouraged.
When lightning strikes a portion of the forest, those who were around when the incident occurred are obligated to perform a ritual through the butchering of pigs. A mambunong is called to ascertain whether the people will not be harmed. The portion of the forest is avoided for some time, allowing its growth and rehabilitation.
People were free to gather forest products for domestic use and for sale as long as the means for reproducing these resources were not destroyed. For example, hunters avoided killing pregnant animals. Replanting of trees, especially pine, were encouraged to replace those cut down. In communities where the decrease of trees in felt, the people agree on measures that help to conserve the resource. Only branches and fallen trees are used for firewood and posts.
To prevent forest fire, farmers who clear a forest portion for their uma clean the outer portion of the area to keep fire from spreading. This practice is called gasid. The tradition of community mobilization in case of emergency is also a factor in forest protection. In case of fire, the people, especially the men go to the affected area to help stop it.
The forest is a source of food, medicine and materials that can be used for the house and as instruments. At the same time forests although help hold water. In forests which are identified as watersheds, cutting of old trees are prohibited. A new practice is the planting of fruit trees in vacant spaces and high slopes.
There are forestlands in Tuba where people say that anybody can cut trees as a result of the weakening of community rules and regulations. This is compounded by the continuing privatization of forests by the residents themselves. . A present move to protect the remaining forests initiated by the local government which plans to turn over the management to the community will revitalize waning customs and practices.
B. Energy resources
While there are hot springs which can be harnessed into energy, the people are not traditionally aware of this. Hot springs are believed to have therapeutic effects. One prohibition in areas where these springs have not been converted to bathing areas for commercial purposes is that the springs should be kept clean. No houses should be constructed near the springs.
Upper slopes usually remain forested while the middle and lower slopes are converted to either swiddens or rice paddies. The forest cover allows the collection of rain water which comes out through the numerous mountain springs which irrigate paddies in the middle and lower slopes by means of indigenous hydraulic technology. Rivers are also sources of irrigation water for paddies in the lower slopes.
At present, land pressure has caused the conversion of land in the upper slopes into vegetable gardens.
4. Water resources management and protection
Water is also protected for fear that the spirit guarding it will make the people sick. The community prohibits urinating or throwing of odorous things and other trash in water sources. This is believed to cause its drying up. Cows are not also allowed near domestic water sources to avoid the pollution of the surroundings and the water source. Houses should be built away from water sources and no washing is allowed near the area. The surroundings are planted with tibel/alumit and balashang trees to protect the water source.
For irrigation water the community plans how this is shared by everybody. Paddies nearest the source are irrigated first after which water is diverted by the paddy owner to the succeeding paddies.
Other fields can have their own source of irrigation especially if these are distantly located from the other paddies.
In vegetable gardening this practice is rarely observed. Each farmer uses his own hose to connect to the source to his gardens.
5. Aquatic Resources Management
All water sources where aquatic resources are available are open to exploitation. In the past, dumping of garbage in rivers and streams was prohibited to protect food sources such as fish, snails and watercress.
The use of dynamite and electric rods is prohibited to prevent killing the young. However, this is still used in areas where tradition and community control are weak.
Fishing methods that do not destroy the entire species are manual gathering, use of fish hooks and traps and biological poison that does not kill but temporarily stun the fish.
6. Mineral Resources Management
A. Indigenous management and control systems
Simple technology was used in placer mining. Gold panning methods involve collecting gold dust from the streams with the use of an iron plate and rotated so the heavier gold dust is separated from sand and soil. Another method is to divert water from the river to a canal where the stones are separated from the sand which is collected and processed to remove the gold dust. Further processing was also simple but later miners learned to use mercury for better gold recovery.
In dog hole mining the miners dig a small tunnel and reach as far as 100 meters depending on the availability of air. They extract the ore veins which are further crushed by manual pounding and later placed in a grinder to convert these nuggets into dust. The slurry is passed through a trough covered with a jute sack which catches the heavier dust.
There were also rules that had to be observed in order that the miners could find gold. Menstruating women were not allowed near the mines so as not to scare the gold.
Other prohibitions in the past included abstinence and avoiding fish and beef. Miners were not supposed to engage in gambling and not to scatter garbage inside the mines or its surroundings.
Before a tunnel is opened a ritual is performed for the spirits guarding the gold and for the miners’ safety. A mambunong is called upon to do the ritual. If he says that the animal bile looks healthy, the people proceed with their activities.
B. Sharing systems
The gold is shared depending on the agreement between the owner of the mine or the financier and the workers. A financier may spend for the food of the workers. After the gold is processed and sold, the expenses are deducted and the money is equally shared.
Sharing also extends to neighbors and friends who are either elderly or unlucky. The elderly,especially women, are allowed to get naba or rocks mined from the tunnels to process at home. Others whose tunnels are not productive can dig in productive tunnels for a certain period in order to get some gold.
The indigenous people share their wealth through feasts and rituals. When someone strikes a rich vein, he performs a rituals as a form of thanksgiving. Friends and neighbors come to partake of the animals butchered.
C. Potential mining areas
Today the small-scale mining areas are Ansagan, Camp 3 and Camp 4. The general practice is to depend on a financier who pays for the miner’s food expenses until gold is found.
Mining technology involves the building of small tunnels to prevent cave-ins. Only the weak areas are propped with timber. The construction of tunnels on the mountain slopes has caused erosion. At the same time the use of chemicals in the processing stage has also polluted soil and water systems.
7. Indigenous health practices
Traditionally, it is believed that illness is caused by spirits whom the person has displeased. It can also be caused by ancestor spirits wanting to have rituals performed for them. A pig is butchered with a mambunong inspecting the bile to see if it is healthy enough. If the prognosis is good, the person will recover with only one pig butchered. If not, another pig is butchered until the mambunong gets a healthy bile. This activity is participated in by the sick person’s relatives, neighbors and friends who come to partake of the meat. If the sick person runs out of pigs, he asks someone to produce the animals with the agreement that he will give the financier a piece of his property. In later times the person’s family makes a loan and uses the sick person’s property as collateral.
Aside from using rituals for healing, the people make use of herbals, many of which have proven effective and beneficial especially in the absence of modern chemical preparations. The introduction of modern medicine has resulted in the decrease in use of herbals.
Today, there is now a recognition of indigenous people’s knowledge regarding medicinal and other useful plants. These are being collected and studied these can be used for commercial purposes. This is called bio prospecting. The collection of plants and the propagation of their effective properties or their reproduction without the community’s knowledge and consent is called bio-piracy or stealing biological species from other people’s territories. Bio-pirates patent these species so that they alone can profit from marketing these.
8. Indigenous Protection Systems for Resources
This is a summary of indigenous protection practices of the indigenous people in Tuba which have already been discussed in the preceding sections.
A few mechanisms for the protection of resources include the belief system which serves to control the use of resources. For instance, the belief that spirits inhabit nature and that a god owns resources like gold inhibits the abuse of the resources since people fear retribution. Illness is believed to be caused by spirits affected by human activity like cutting of trees or polluting water sources. In order to avoid illness, people observe these taboos. Communities also make rules on how resources should be treated. In the past, people only mined what they needed and made sure that the mine site was free of garbage. Trees near water sources were allowed to grow. Other beliefs prohibiting people, especially the young, from frequenting forest areas struck by lightning also allows the place to regenerate.
The indigenous socio-political system like the council of elders or impanama decides on penalties for violations of these taboos.
Resource protection practices in agriculture include allowing the land to lie fallow for a few years so it can regenerate and become productive. In the past people operate a swidden for about for years and then transfer to another swidden. They return to the old field after six years.
Protection of resources from outside exploitation among indigenous peoples, including the Ibaloy, is weak because of the indigenous people’s tradition of sharing nature’s bounty. In other places in Benguet, landowners allowed outsiders to open tunnels in their lands to find out later that these people have applied for mining claims to these areas while the landowner depended on the indigenous system of recognition of land ownership, meaning, the community knew who owned what and respected it. However, this was not respected by state law.
Because of the depletion of resources, new forms of protection and conservation are now evolving. Some people in Tuba are engaged in seed banking where indigenous seeds, especially rice, are selected and stored but shared with others during the planting season. Other indigenous plant materials are also propagated.
Another mechanism is the “free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) which more people are becoming aware of as a prerequisite before any development project within the ancestral domain is implemented.
Data Source - NCIP, Benguet