June 1, 2023

AT FIRST THOUGHT, I wanted to entitle today’s Discussion with: “my great women-mentors of local genealogy” – in gratitude of their data-contributions, plus the narrative concomitants they’ve favoured me, but
ON SECOND THOUGHT, reflections and realizations dawned upon me: that I’m not the only one who learned from them; and that’s why they’re often cited too by many others as their references and/or “sources”.
THEY’RE USUALLY REFERRED to by the village people as the Matonton (Lit: “able kinship-trackers”) and there are not so many of them. If you find one or two in one ‘culture-area’ (i.e. about six to ten villages), that is truly novelle. But still, only in extreme rarity this may obtain.
THERE IS ONLY that one term: Matonton – both for male and female kinship-trackers. In earlier times, the reputed Matontons were men – old or aged men mostly. The Explanation appears ‘obvious’ sometimes, to wit:
THE FIRST ‘QUALIFICATION’ in those Times, nontan da, was you were a matured, seasoned man – with a string of experiences and travels to other villages and settlements i.e. the likes of: other provinces, the Lowlands, even Manila, et cetera..
THE SECOND OR ‘tailing’ – nay kahchom, qualification, was that you wielded some kind of power – or ‘leadership’ among your own folks and neighbours firstly.
WAS THIS BECAUSE of performed ‘Prestige’ – or lesser, Feasts? That is for some social experts to answer; for in my recollections, there have been great Matontons – respected and/or sung as well, though not necessarily of the Karangjan (‘village nobility’) class, nor holders of Prestige feasts, Pedit/Peshit “grades”. And the women kinship-trackers?
THE ONLY EXCEPTION – it so obviously appears too – that a woman may rise to become a popular and well-loved(!) Matonton was that she was of great age – even sans or without those ‘qualifications’ aforesaid.
SO, LET’S PROCEED to cite some historical Matontons in the local scene – this time, the women-genealogists or trackers; since in some past issues, we have already cited mostly male Matontons. Since further, the approach is oral and historical, the names cited here are real and verifiable. Also, part of my data from them is due to my family line(s)’ descents and/or co-ancestries with them
SANDAG OR EMANG of Kakemotan (now part of Brgy. Daklan, Bokod). A great, raconteured genealogist, she’s often sung; in wakes, social gatherings, even in ordinary informal narrations, Uma umat.
THOUGH A DAUGHTER of Hispanic Daklan chieftain Pucay Catores, an Ehsayat or holder of the ‘grade-of-ten’ Prestige feast or Peshit and herself a holder of the ‘grade-of-eight’, gwalo Peshit, she is often pictured more as:
“THE AFU (GRAND-WOMAN) who lived a hundred years (or more). People or visitors would come to her dwelling and seek info and she would oblige. In between the meals – or coffee, she’ll be ready for the questions – using, or depending just on nothing but her in-born memory. Personal or witness accounts of her mostly highlight this episode:
‘WHEN SHE GOES “deep” into storytelling or kinship-tracing, she would close her eyes, and stream by stream connect the lines, pansisilpo to, of the narratives or family descents. Meanwhile, some of her audience would noiselessly take leave; she would only stop if someone from her dwelling would come close to whisper to her: inmahad da eray amantetneng (Transl: “Have already gone home.. your audience.”).
AFU SANDAG SURVIVED the two World Wars. Of course, there were others parallel of her stature – during her lifetime, but needing space in our Discussion this time.
AFTER HER AND after the Second World War, there rose a few more women-genealogists to the image and tradition of the great Sandag or Emang. One of them was ‘auntie’ Emmilene of Tikey, Bokod. And then, there was ‘auntie’ Dajon Mathis of Binga, Itogon; and presently-living is ‘auntie’ Miguela Marcelino Maingpis of Asin, Dalupirip. Sandag ‘fashion’, they’ll need no notes; no nothing – they’ll just flow out the details – in sheer accuracy, when you ask them about specific genealogical lines or trees’. Ayuhh!