February 2, 2023

The chants of women from the ili (village)in Bontoc, Mountain Province echoed throughout the Chico River, calling for the return of the body of an 11-year-old boy, who was swept by current on Nov. 22.

The boy’s body resurfaced downstream after three days of search by the community.

In those three days, men and women from the community helped in whatever they can to assist the 13 teams from various groups that labored day and night to find the boy. 

Netizens were updated with the series of posts by the Provincial Government of Mountain Province, which recognized the spirit of og-ogfu or bayanihan, which is an automatic community reflex in times of hardships.

Bontoc elders said og-ogfu is an act witnessed time and again among the people of Bontoc especially in times of anap or search for a missing person and during other adversities.

Police earlier reported the victim and two of his friends went swimming at the Chico River in Kadchog, Bontoc Ili on Nov. 22.

His two friends went ahead and swam across the other side of the river and when it was the victim’s turn, he was swept by the current 10 meters away from them until he was no longer seen.

During the search and retrieval (SAR) operations, women and other volunteers prepared meals for the search teams.

In-kind and cash donations also poured in from the community to help defray the expenses for the SAR operations.

Donations included rice and other food items, bottled water, and firewood, among other things. The women also chanted all day long along the riverside, asking the Almighty and their ancestors to lead the teams to where the boy’s body could be found.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office also helped with the use of heavy equipment through the night, to divert the water from the part where the boy was allegedly sucked underwater.

At 3:45 p.m. of Nov. 24, one of the search teams reported that the boy’s body was found floating downstream at Sitio Alawey, Barangay Tocucan, Bontoc.

His remains were interred before daybreak on Nov. 25 following Bontoc’s burial tradition. – Ofelia C. Empian