Kalinga sets two Guinness records
It took five years for Kalinga to turn its dream of someday making it to the Guinness World Records into reality.
On Feb. 15, it took five hours for thousands of dancers, braving the heat and rain, to complete the world records which were officially achieved 9 p.m. that day.
Standing atop the giant pot-shaped stage at the middle of the Kalinga Sports Complex, Guinness World Record official adjudicator Kazuyoshi Kirimura from Japan announced with pride Kalinga is now the world record holder for the largest gong ensemble with 3,440 male dancers and the largest clay pot dance with female 4,681 dancers.
Visibly overwhelmed and joyous of their feat, provincial officials led by Gov. James Edduba, Vice Gov. Jocel Baac, and Rep. Jesse Allen Mangaoang and Awong Chi Gangsa committee chair Bishop Prudencio Andaya received the two official certificates from Guinness.
The event dubbed “Awong Chi Gangsa, Agtu’n Chi Banga” (The Call of a Thousand Gongs, The Dance of a Thousand Pots) highlighted the province’s celebration of its 28th founding anniversary and the 4th Bodong Festival.
“This is a victory for the people of Kalinga. We saw how the participants braved the rain and the heat earlier that day,” Edduba told reporters.
The towns of Balbalan, Lubuagan, Pasil, Pinukpuk, Rizal, Tanudan, Tinglayan and the City of Tabuk showed up with their gong players and clay pot dancers clad in their colorful g-string and wrapped around skirt and color-coded tops, with their beaded accessories – necklace, bracelets, earrings, and head pieces.
It was a beautiful sight to behold as the dancers lined up patiently waiting for their grand presentation that was split into three – the gong and pot dances and the unity dance.
But the waiting period was especially long; the call time was 1 p.m. that day and volunteers and the police gave out bar coded bands to all the dancers, which was later scanned one by one as they enter the sports oval.
At 4:30 p.m., with the dark clouds gi-ving way to the rain, the record attempt started.
This was Kirimura’s instruction to determine the final number of participants, as he led the adjudication witness panel including Stanley Anongos of Benguet State University; Director Atanacio Addog of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Cordillera; and Allen Marquez and Kenneth Maslang of St. Mary’s University, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
Kirimura said the categories applied by Kalinga is the first of its kind.
“Kalinga is not just the Guinness World Record holder right now, but they’re the very first people that got successful. So, in that sense that makes it meaningful,” Kirimura said.
Edduba said the world record attempt was conceptualized in 2018 where he credited Bishop Andaya as the one who inspired them to support the record-breaking attempt not only with the thousand gongs but including the ba-nga dance.
However, due to the pandemic, the attempt was put on hold and was only pushed for this year’s foundation celebration.
The event was made possible with the participation of the people – from the different provincial, municipal and barangay local government units, agencies, the Awong Chi Gangsa committee, and individual donors and private institutions.
During the program, Edduba also recognized the presence of Dr. Amelia Miranda, the first committee chair of the Awong Chi Gangsa when it was launched during the 19th Kalinga foundation anniversary and the then Ullalim Festival, now called Bodong Festival, on Feb. 14, 2013.
Peace and unity through dance
More than anything else, Edduba said the event emphasized the strengthening of the relations of each municipality towards lasting peace and unity, as well as the showcase of the rich culture and heritage of Kalinga.
Currently, the province is dealing with the conflicts between people of Lubuagan and the Mabungtot group also in the municipality. Their respective leaders called pangat recently signed a covenant where each group would not go beyond their boundaries in carrying out the age-old practice of exacting revenge. This is what the traditional bodong justice system promotes, to aim for the traditional conflict resolution between these groups that still carries on this practice.
He said an example of the unity and peace that the Awong Chi Gangsa brought was that members of Lubuagan and Mabungtot joined the momentous event and performed the dance together in unity.
As for the conflict between the people of Butbut, Tinglayan and Betwagan, Sadanga, Mountain Province, Edduba said National Defense and Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. vowed to do what they can to assist both groups.
He said the local governments and elders of the groups will soon meet with Galvez to further discuss steps towards lasting peace in both areas.
With the publicity that the event made, Edduba recognized they need to be ready for tourism influx and in preparing for the upcoming Awong events to top the bar set with the feat.
Kalinga’s tagline “Lumin-awa Kalinga” (prosperous or better life Kalinga) is meant to drive up the economy of the province through tourism, as the LGU is bent on promoting its sceneries, culture and arts grounded on its unique cultural heritage.
The event showcased the playing of gongs which is in the blood of the Kalinga people where the sound signals revelry while the banga symbolizes the livelihood of the people.
Edduba cited the people of Dampalan and Dalupag in Pasil who sell the clay pots, which is used for drawing out water or cooking of food.
The Guinness World Records did not give cash prizes to any declared world record holder as its policy, for its aim “is to celebrate the world’s best, to inspire ordinary people, and to entertain and inform.”
At the end of the day, it was more than just a successful world record attempt. It was a display of unity, teaching both the young and the old that lasting peace can be achieved in Kalinga with the sound of a thousand gongs and the dance of a thousand pots. – Ofelia C. Empian