February 9, 2023

ONE CULTURAL PRACTICE which distinguishes the Ibaloi from the other Cordillera ‘tribes’ is the Dongba – or, Dongba ni kabajo (Lit. “race of the horses”, in full text and originally), dubbed too by other writers as ‘Ibaloi-style horseracing’. Our narrators say:
‘WITH THE RAINS just-posterior, no kaksheng ni oran, you see men – young and/or old, in the fields, or in the hills, or in their front yards(!) tending to their Kabajon dongba (Lit. “horse for racing): brushing their horses’ hairs, inspecting their hooves, even just simply calming them from fright, and so on.
‘IT WAS THE fad in those days: ready your horses; for, when the “main players” agree sort-of on the Venue and Date, you’ll just wake up one early morning – roused by the neighing of some few horses – becoming more and more in number, and louder(!) as the clock ticks on!
NEW ARRIVALS – RIDERS and horses on the horseracing ground or Dongbaan, that’s what’s happening!’ [You see the older faces with you in the Audience, they’re nodding – cum obvious display of enthusiasm]. Now, the racing grounds or Dongbaan.
IN THE ‘RIVERBANK settlements’ or Kaikulosan (or simply Kulos), there was Ashaway (now Adaoay, in Kabayan); and, Ambukdöw, in Bokod; and Debköw and Shalupirip, in Itogon.
TWO OF THESE great Dongbaans went underwater: Ambukdöw in 1954, and Debköw, in 1960. They’re now officially-called Ambuklao Hydroelectric Plant, and Binga Hydroelectric Plant.
IN THE ‘MOUNTAINSIDE settlements’ or Karuntugan, there was La Trinidad and Bagiw (Baguio City) and of course, good, old Dowakan (now, Loakan Airport). Again,
WHEN THE MOST powerful of the Babaknangs (rich and ruling men) agree sort-of (singa hamman da), one special day – (or two), they’ll hold a (pan) Ibaloi Dongba at Bagiw (today, in the Burnham Park peripheries). You’ll see riders from North Tuvday (Tublay) and Southward Itogon – as well as from the Western and Eastern flanks of Sablan and Tuba; and, Bokod and Adaoay, respectively.
USUALLY, YOU CAN distinguish them by their Nabaloi ‘accents’ – two in general: the Ehnontog or Iruntug vis-à-vis the Ikulos. Three telling features shall help you recognize those accents:
THE CH~ (ANLAUT, Inlaut, and Auslaut) of the Iruntug vs. the SH~ (in corresponding positions) of the Ikulos; 2) the – f~ vs. the ~p~; and 3) the tighter (or ‘explosive’) renditions of consonant clusters in Ikulos. For a little, demo -in respective order, to wit:
chanum (H2o), echan (indeed, iNTNSFR). [EXPR, none] vs. shanum, eshan, eishh!; 2) Afay (Question Marker/QM), difong (bowl), khettaph (blanket woven) vs. Apay, dipong, kettap; and 3) Wara (there is/are) vs. gwara. Or, these sample juxtaposed sentences – still in the same sequence: Iruntug vs. Ikulos viz. Afay wara y chanum echan chitan? (QM, there is H2o, INTSFR, there)? vs. Apay gwara y shanum eshan shitan?
AH, THOSE USED-to-be Dongbas, Dongbaans, and Malongbas (Horseraces, horseracing grounds, and horse riders), what fondness of recall, they bring forth! But who among us Today – Ibaloi or Benguetist, gets ‘inspired’ on the topic of the native-sport Dongba, vamos a ver? Ayuhh!