(First of a Series)
FIRST, OUR TITLE terms. ‘Living’ because, even up to this time, the Saga is told and re-told in family Reunions, in some gatherings, in Narrative Sessions – Uma Umat, of kinsfolk and local(Oral) historians.
ASIWET – A TERM introduced earlier in this column (cf. Supra issues), literally and metaphorically. In today’s Discussion, it is more of the literal, this material-world description of a “foot (or feet) bended inwards” – mostly due to the person’s choice and traditional beliefs… rather than what people this time could surmise as: due to accident, improper footwear, in-born ‘defect’, and so on and on (cf. Ibidem). Now, to the body of our main topic.
ALIW-IW – OUR CENTRAL character of the Saga was descended from the (local) ‘nobility stratum – Karangjan so-called among the Ibalois and related tribes or ‘sub-tribes’. It more or less parallels the concept-and-reference of the Northern Cordis of Kadangyan or Kachangyan.
IN ASCENDING ORDER, his father Nahjon, was a holder of the ‘grade-of-eight’ Peshit or Prestige Feast, and so was his mother Sandag (later: Emang) – herself being one of the daughters of Daklan/Shekdan chief – Pucay (Catores), a renowned holder of the ‘grade-of-ten’, Peshit ni sampulo; or, Ehsayat – the highest recognized ‘title’ of Social Prestige among the tribes in earlier times.. up to the Present (?).
[LET’S LEAVE A Pause(…) or Silence bit (–)… to give space for the Pros and Cons – whether the Peshit ‘Institution’ is still on.. or not anymore.. So, folks: hush your noise. M e a n w h I l e, let me proceed with the Discussion, Si’l vous plait (SVP), if you please]? So that
WHEN ALIW-IW’s PARENTS – or Nahjon and Sandag had their last Prestige Feast, the Elders and old men, or Dalakais counselled them to perform a double(!) ‘grade-of-eight’ – or Peshit ni Gwalo: first, for husband Nahjon’s side; then, second (immediately), for wife Sandag’s side or family Peshit line. (I am indebted for this particular information to the late Ama Apatrick Bias, Personal Interviews, Baguio Citty c. 1990).
(DURING SAID INTERVIEW, and knowing fully well that Ama Apatrick was also of Nahjon’s line or ancestry, I shot my eager ever question 🙂
“WHY AMA, DIDN’T Afu and spouses Nahjon and Sandag pursue – at a much later time, perhaps, their social Peshit prestige, up to the ‘grade-of-ten’ or Peshit ni Sampulo, so they could be in like renown, as their parents respective?” Ama Apatrick replied cool – looking like a much-amused father bear:
‘NO ANAK. THEY pegged it there – at the Peshit ni Gwalo. For one thing, they were thinking of their children – and later descendants.. in Future time; the ritual requisites.. and finances too. Besides, in olden times, performing Peshit offspring were always cautioned: not to contest – or ‘go above’ Shahsi-an, the Peshit grades of their respective parents’ (Ibid).
[SUCH AN UNFORGETTABLE and unselfish Ama and Informant of Ibaloi local history Apo Apatrick Bias was. He died in June 1998 (God Rest his soul – GRhs), according to one of his sons, Senior Chairman, Molderick Bias]. Now, back to Aliw-iw.
THE ‘RIFT’ BEGINS. If we re-trace back how people those times, nontan da, regard each other inside the family sphere, you can easily imagine how or why Aliw-iw was very much loved by his father Nahjon.
THERE WERE FIVE children in the family: three girls and two boys. Aliw-iw was the older boy or son. By Custom and Tradition, Aliw-iw, was destined, nai ketto, heir and [later] ‘leader of’ the family; his siblings and his parents trusted and hoped for such in Future time.
WHEN ALIW-IW WAS already a grown-up man however, he was already exhibiting some itches, contraries, or signs.. of personal ‘independence’ He wanted: to decide (for himself) whom to marry; his parents to declare his inheritance – esp. lands, cattle, and money; [his father foremostly] to refrain already from ‘pressuring’ him on certain matters and decisions and so on. [And his father Nahjon? What did he think; or, what had he in-mind?]
[‘DEEPLY’] HIS FATHER was troubled. He didn’t expect those any, anyway. So, at most times, they say, he tried the old Nabaloi fathers’ way: Anos tan Ehkha Ehkhet (Patience and Silence).. and just went on his daily routines – quite resolvingly. One day, however
AS THEIR FAMILY – courtesy of his parents, Nahjon and Sandag, was in celebration of their Peshit, Aliw-iw was getting intoxicated with the fermented ricewines.
HE WAS SAYING some things – they say; and he wanted the words or attention of his father. But the father just kept mostly mum.. and controlled his temper.
LATER – IN LESS than an hour, Aliw-iw was becoming ‘noisy’ and ‘towards violence’, as if to slap some people who didn’t reply to what he was saying.
HIS FATHER NAHJON just ordered the young men to bind his legs and arms with the Bitad – water Buffalo hide rope.
ALTHOUGH STRUGGLING AND shouting – Aliw-iw fell to the temper of the rice wine, and after sometime, went soundly asleep. But
IN THE MIDDLE or so of the Night, while everybody was watching the Tayao native dance.. and the squaring dancers; the others busy with their tasks in the cooking area, and so on,
ALIW-IW’S MIND suddenly woke up. He looked around and no eyes were on him; the Night was getting deeper. So,
SLOWLY, HE MOVED himself – nan isi is, towards the burning hearth-fires on the frontyard edge.
THEN, WITH HIS bended-forward, Asiwet feet, he quickly hooked, then tossed upwards – sinuwi suwid to, the burning firewood – aflame and embering – in the direction of the rooftop of the small, past-ritual-paraphernalia house.
SAID HOUSE’S ROOFTOP – made of Cogon and Kayboan grass easily caught the flames. The dancers and the women at the middle yard and far end were shouting: “Fire2! Burning flames.. Look!” – Apoy2! Po-ol.. mumma!
THE DANCING AND merriment had to stop. All hands went for pails, basins, and water. Before an hour passed, the fires were put off.
THE PEOPLE WERE talking.. some were looking at Aliw-iw – seated, silent, but looking back at them. Then
HIS FATHER NAHJON came near and ordered the men to let loose the Bitad ropes. Oxas jo ima balud to! (“Set loose his bounds!”). Then, after looking at his son for some few minutes, he declared:
“BEFORE THE SUN peeps, we shall speak. Your mother and siblings – everybody.. shall hear what will be spoken. That’s it, this time..
“YOUNG MEN AND women: go, prepare some coffee now. The morning is cold. Continue the Dancing afterwards!”