January 29, 2023

A ritual informing the spirits of the departed ancestors and leaders of La Trinidad, Benguet on the cancellation of the Strawberry Festival will be performed next month.
The municipal government will perform the Ibaloy ritual panod-soran on March 20 at the municipal grounds instead of the grand festivities earlier set.
Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative Pendon Thompson said the ritual is a means of communicating to Kabunyan and the ancestors of the cancelled festival due to the threat of the Coronavirus Disease-19 (Covid-19).
Thompson said the spirits, especially those of the departed town officials, are used to being invoked during the Strawberry Festival every March, so it is proper to inform them of the current officials’ decision.
“Annually the event is happening, biruken dan to ket awan, isunga ipakaamo kenya da nga cancelled iti festival,” Thompson said.
Aside from the panod-soran, the sa-la-shey or meaningful prayer for protection will also be performed.
He said the  sa-la-shey is a prayer asking Kabunyan to protect the community from harm, especially with the threats of Covid-19 to humans and the African Swine Fever that infected hogs in the locality. It is also to ward off any untoward incidents from happening in the municipality.
He said they will butcher pigs and offer rice wine during the ritual.
Thompson added the ritual has been practiced by their forefathers, where a family or the community affected hosts the activity.
This time, the municipality will host the ritual and prayer.
During the meeting of the executive committee of the Strawberry Festival led by Mayor Romeo Salda, it was decided that all the LGU and private sector-led activities of the month-long festival in March will be cancelled as a precautionary measure against the spread of the Covid-19.
Earlier, various groups, especially those who organized the community-led activities, asked the municipal government if they could mount their activities.
“For consistency and fairness, all crowd-drawing activities are cancelled until further notice,” Salda said.
Organizers were advised to re-schedule their respective activities. – Ofelia C. Empian