December 9, 2022

THE COMPLETE TERM for the sport traditional of the Ibalois: Dongba ni Kabajo (Transl: “Race of the horses”), but usually, writers and narrators just use Dongba.
[TO SOME IBALOIS, they may refer to said race in its long or complete form – perchance to differentiate it from the Dongba ni to-o (“Race of men/persons”) – an example of which was done in Dalupirip, in 1982, when elders and initiators shifted to look for men among them to race, man dongba, the reason being that: they could not find – among the horses brought in thereat – ‘matched’, kalungbaan, pairs].’ Please note further that we used:
UTB =INT “used-to-be” in describing, instead of adjectives ‘earlier’, ‘former’, ‘lost’, etc., since some say: “the Dongba is a thing of the Past – one that flourished and is now, forgotten – for good.” But, rather, utb or ‘used-to-be’ because: it was; then, ‘lost’; then ‘regained’; and so on – as if in a cycle. But just briefly:
AS WHAT RACONTEURS and oral historians narrate or sing of, the Dongba was at its peak ‘even before World War II’.
IN 1933, FOR example – ‘during the time of Mayor Lopez, Sinetes (jockeys) and Malongbas (horse breeders/riders) flocked to meet and compete, makilongba, at [now] Burnham [Park]’. So,
PAN-IBALOI REALLY, MOSTLY coming from the [then] municipal townships of: Bokod, Itogon, Kabayan, and partly Buguias, in the East and Northeast; and Tuba, Sablan, Tublay, Atok, and [of course] La Trinidad, in the West and Northwest. In
THOSE TIMES AND years before the outbreak of World War II, the Dongba equaled (superseded?) the traditional Peshit/Pedit in social importance. For,
AFTER EACH DONGBA event, not only acclaimed or remembered were the jockeys and horse breeders, Sinete tan Malongba era, but also: the village-origins of the competing horses and riders, the colour(s) of the winning racehorse(s), and the venue or place where the Dongba was held.
ADAOAY [KABAYAN], DEBCÖW [now submerged by the Binga Reservoir], and Shalupirip/Dalupirip stand out in-mention as the great Dongbaans of those times; and of course, Burnham [Baguio City] – as earlier cited, Supra. Take very special note: according to Mabahdiw singers or recitors:
[EARLIER THAN BURNHAM Dongbaan was Doakan (now, Loakan Airport); but eyewitness descendants have not made assertions to this yet – unlike in the cases of the other-cited Dongba venues].
OUR INFORMANTS MOSTLY testify that the horse-colour winning in those times were: the Paljaw (Palomino), the Kastanjo (red chestnut sorrel), the Koroljo (black/gray), and certainly ‘the shades of white’, as in: the Moro n asukal (white, with brown sugar-like spots) and the Moro n bakes (white, with black ‘monkey hair’ spots); and, the pure white horse or moro n moro. And
THEN, WWII BROKE out, and you know what happened: the Dongba was “lost”. But not completely(?).
[THE LATE MAYOR and Malongba descendant Alfonso Fianza (GRhs, God Rests his soul) of Itogon related to the Makniba (Maksil ni Ibaloi) Elders that “even during the War, the Dongba was alive in Dalupirip. Our family maintained 15 horses”, Personal Interview, Poblacion, Itogon, c. 2004.
THEN, IN THE early 1950’s, Ambuklao Dongbaan was submerged by the Dam; followed by the Debcöw Dongbaan in Binga, Itogon in 1960.
IN 1982, SOME “revivals” took place: in old Dalupirip Dongbaan; (and shortly after) in Binga, i.e. Marian Village; and in Salinas, Nueva Vizcaya (the songs or Bahdiws often indicate).
TOWARDS THE END of 2003, the Makniba and its Elders’ friends endeavoured to ‘regain’ the ‘almost lost’ prestige of the Dongba: these resumed in Dalupirip, as well as in Tinongdan – in the upward grounds of Deppey up to the Geweng Barangay Hall area.
IN 1993, THE Baguio and Benguet Ibalois organized the [now annual] Adivai festival. The Dongba ni Kabajo got included to be one of the ‘Main Events’; so now, it is yearly-held. ‘How “far” or “near” from the original Dongba, all yours or ours, to say. Ayo, Ayo. Ino.