June 14, 2024

I recall mentioning several times and finally putting it into writing about Provincial Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative Thomas Tawagen regarding the issue on gong beating and its serious impact to culture and to the social environment.
Among the issues are the danger of desecrating and vandalizing the gong, the devaluation of the gong, and the possibility of disrespecting the gong making it an ordinary item of this generation.
The gong and gong beating must be given serious examination and serious study by the elders, government, and the church.
I strongly suggest the strict regulation of gong beating for reason of rehearsals and performance:
Regulate the use of the gongs during practices. The council on culture or whoever will be delegated will set time for practices and set as well the duration of practice. It must be observed strictly.
There must be a proper place to practice to minimize nuisance.
The gong beaters are oriented sufficiently regarding the values and value of the gong.
Barangays and schools must share the same serious education regarding gongs and its use.
I recall mentioning the gong beating issue to Grace Mi-ing, when she was managing the School of Living Traditions performers.
I recall reiterating it too to Dixie Chakas (+) when he pioneered the training of Bontoc and SLT participants. I mentioned the same to MJ Agwilang. I am happy they received the suggestions and observations positively.
We continue to generate our culture and its cultural values in our festivals by respecting its elements and living out cultural values.
The gongs can be used for many purposes but its use and purpose is always for festivals. Hence, gong beating is always festive.
Some ethnic groups may use the gong beating during funerals when people will carry the corpse to the graveyard purposely to overcome the chirping of birds that can mean bad omen.
Some use the gongs after a bloody conflict among ethnic groups when men beat the gongs around the “ato” to counter or shun away the spirit of the dead.
Some use the gongs to call the rain. Men of the village will go to the river or the mountains to perform rituals to call the rain and they beat the gongs dubbed as “manerwap.”
Some use the gongs to elaborate the degree of courtship. The gong beating is done in a faster mode to be accompanied by a faster dance step. They dubbed it as “bogbogie.” Gong beating differs from one tribe to the other. One can identify a tribe by the beat of the gongs. Gong beating and dancing were reserved only to men especially old men and dancing to old women.
I remember my childhood days when I was not given the chance to play the gong even during cultural festivities around the ato.
Young men and women were deprived from gong beating and dancing. Seemingly, it was a taboo for the gongs to be used by the youth.
The irony was, the seminary became the ground for me to learn gong beating. The learning was intensified by my older brothers, Jess and Donald. From my siblings, at least I gained more confidence from my culture. It was just timely too that the Immaculate Conception School of Theology sent us to St. Benedict Institute to teach the student catechists how to beat the gongs and dance.
Bishop Francisco F. Claver, SJ, saw the predicament of the culture and the youth being deprived of the material aspects of culture. When the young people will not hold the gongs to beat them and dance the beat, the material culture will surely die with the elders.
Bishop Claver therefore conceived the SLT. In the late 1990’s, he sent the Catholic teachers to Assumption Convent for the SLT. Some teachers had their masterals on the course until it was realized among the Catholic schools as a part of the curriculum.
The need to dialogue the culture with the Holy Spirit became one of the important thrusts of the Catholic School. It is dubbed as inculturation. The gong beating and dancing were later introduced in the liturgical celebrations marking one of the faces of inculturation.
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