IN OUR EARLY years at old Binga(an), we kids in those times would often hear of the grandeur, exuberance, and attractions of Shalupirip – now, officially: Dalupirip, Itogon, Benguet Province.
AMONG OTHER THINGS, our folks – old and young, would speak in vibrance as: “Shalupirip,
1) THE HOME OF our kinglet – Ama and Apo Jose Smith Fianza; 2) Where we meet the noble and the rich (=aspulan ni karangjan tan babaknang); 3) ni dalekkin nangka elgwis, ni biviin nangka khintis (= of slender men, of beautiful women); 4) of ricefields wide and long (= ni payew wa ambabennaw tan anshorokei); 5) ni dongbaan egmai engsan! (= the horserace ground beyond compare!).
FOR THE IBALOIS, Shalupirip was one ‘center of’ their world – especially when it comes to their former (?) favourite sport: the Dongba ni Kavajo, or horserace, Ibaloi ‘native’ style-and-rules.
WHEN THERE WAS an announced Dongba, riders from the four directions of the wind; Magangan Bokod; Ashaway, Kabayan; to as far as Andimay, Buguias; to the North; Baguio and La Trinidad to the Northwest; the Kayapa-valleys to the East; and Sáfinet (Fianza, San Nicolas, Pangasinan) to the South, will come a-flocking to the Shalupirip pasture mountain sides – days before the Dongba appointed date.
THE DONGBA WAS always a great, retold over-and-over event. If you look at it cross-wise, it was not only a horseracing activity per se.
IT WAS ALSO a time: 1) to renew relation with kinsfolk (even now, the Shalupirip people receive – from time to time invitations for a reunion, family gathering, municipal fiesta, etc., from their North, East, West, South relatives); 2) for the old men to scout for horses or animals to buy or take care-of (pastol); 3) for the young men (and women!) to lucky-spot (Chambaan) a future spouse – they may later pursue through the Institutions of Kaising and Kolis (= ‘arranged marriage’ and ‘engagement rites’); and 4) for all or in general; to pay or extend short conversations with the Ama: Apo kinglet Fianza himself. His house was in Shalupirip.
IN SHORT, THERE were at least three big events in Dalupirip when people from all over come to participate, enjoy, and co-mingle with the I-Shalupirips, viz. when there was: a Dongba, a Peshit or Pedit (Prestige feast), and the community’s Fiesta.
OF COURSE, ON level medio-macro, some also come for: Batbats (3-day or so feasts), weddings, and reunions. For solemn sojourns, some come for funerals or to visit their ailing kin. All these told, re-told, and heard in the days of our Youth.
SOMETIME IN 1978, I met three Dalupirip men – Messrs. Joseph Costina, Soriano Ebes (GRHS, God rest his soul), and a certain Boni of Lawigen (also GRHS) – at Baguio City. They told me it was not the first time we met; that they ovserved and heard me to be sad and morose because I stopped schooling due to financial difficulties; that I was their close relative; and that.. they were inviting me ‘home’ to Dalupirip.. rather than see me roam around the streets of Baguio! I was politely refusing their words at first. But on the second day, they were there again – seated across me on a restaurant table, with matching peanuts and ‘light’ drinks, and some food.
SOME MORE NARRATIONS and revelations from them convinced me it was time to go with them to Shalupirip – my own folks at Bingaan and Suburbs used-to-be centre of stories and fond memories. So
TO DALUPIRIP WITH them, I went. There was a wedding that time. I wanted to go back to Baguio two days after; but the three men persuaded me to stay a bit more. And.. shortly after,
I DID. BESIDES, there was Barangay Captain Cordelo ‘Odel’ Lictag also telling me, I should go visit too my other relatives in the other Sitios of Dalupirip.
HE EASILY TRACED to me my kin and Kith – both my mother- and father-side. How honoured then I was! I was happy, I was always excited.. to meet and be introduced to a ‘new’ relative – near or far.
WHEN HE INTRODUCED me to his first-cousin, Sabas K. Lictag (also GRHS), I later found employment. My first formal job ever: a Payroll Clerk under the RP-UNDP (or RP-United Nations Development Program), that time based in Pekkes, Dalupirip, Itogon, particularly at Taladang, and under the care of Sabas K. Lictag as Nursery-in-charge.
MY STAY WITH the Lictags (Capt. Cordelo and boss Sabas), the Budongs, the Costinas, the Tacays, and the Solnes, etc., as well as with UNDP itself further deepened my attachments with all the I-Shalupirips.
I ONCE, OR countless times, roamed the Sitios of Payket, Sajo, Calew, Ayosep, Balococ, Cahshet, Tabu, Uling, Lawigen, Dongboy, Salapsap, Dalupirip Proper, and yes! Asin (not Asin, Tuba). How can I forget?
THE MEMORIES NOW crowding.. and overflowing with Significance: Dalupirip – South of my home.. but also once – in the recent-past years, my ‘home’. Saludos, son si-kayon emmin, khait ja I-Shalupirip!