Bodong Festival is a cultural festival and founding anniversary held in the province of Kalinga, Philippines every February 14th. It is a week-long celebration, although there are years when activities start at the first day of February such as in 2020 or even month-long like in 2017. Major activities occurring in the city of Tabuk, the capital of the province.
History of Bodong Festival
Bodong Festival comes from the word bodong, which translates to a peace accord. Before Bodong Festival however, Kalinga used to celebrate Ulalim Festival for years.
History of Ulalim Festival
Ulalim Festival marked the commemoration of the founding of the province. Its name comes from the word ulalim, which refers to epic songs that are narratives of adventures and triumphs of fictional heroes. They are chanted by skilled orators during gatherings and events. Retelling of the heroic exploits and adventures from these stories could take up to days.
The first of Ullalim Festival was held in June 1995. It coincided with the conferment of then-president Fidel V. Ramos with Pangat, a royal title in the culture of Kalinga people. It was during the Ramos administration that Kalinga-Apayao was split into two independent provinces. From then on, the festival was held February 14th of every year starting from the administration of then-governor Dominador Belac.
First Bodong Festival
However, the provincial government decided to rebrand the founding fest. Ullalim as a tradition is believed to be observed by specific ethnic communities. So in 2017, in time for the 22nd year of the Ullalim Festival, the very first Bodong Festival was launched through provincial ordinance No. 2016-029. The ordinance was authored by Eduardo Sarol and Frederick Pangsiw of the provincial board. Other name that was considered during deliberation was Bodong Mankapyaan Festival.
What is bodong?
Bodong is a custom that is found among the inhabitants of Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province. It is a pact for participating parties to live in harmony. The pact is made between feuding tribes. It is an instrument in times of conflict as a peaceful, non-retaliatory means of ending it and the ensuing forging of alliances.
Additionally, another layer to the custom is the community. In Kalinga, the social contract between the individual and the group is such that the group is accountable for the decision and action of any one of their members. Thus, the tradition is attended by the presence of the group or their representatives. A council of elders are responsible in drawing up a pagta. A pagta is the contract that contains the laws that bind the parties. The council is customarily exclusively male, and participation of female and young people has been introduced in recent times.
Bodong is a tradition of the Kalinga population, a unique ethno-linguistic group. Less characterized by homogeneity, it is in reality made up of dozens of communities (also considered tribes or sub-tribes). In the past, conflicts could spark from time to time. Enforcing bodong was one of the peace-keeping mechanisms and dispute resolutions that helped resolve conflicts and maintain peace and order.
History of Kalinga
Bodong Festival, as well as Ulalim Festival before it, is scheduled on the date that the province was established. Kalinga is located in the Gran Cordillera or Cordillera Administrative Region, the name of the landlocked area in the central northern part of the island of Luzon. The region also includes the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, and Mountain Province. Its people were one of the few that escaped colonization during the Spanish era. In the past, they attacked the inhabitants in settlements located in the flat plains. Over the years they became known as Kalinga, and the province was named after them.
During American conquest, political organization was implemented in Cordillera region. Kalinga in effect was part of Mountain Province, an administrative entity that comprised other neighboring lands, through the passage of the Philippine Commission Act 1876 on August 18, 1908. Mountain Province was huge, and a series of reorganizations took place in the years that followed.
Then on June 18, 1966, the area was partitioned into the following: Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga-Apayao, and Mountain Province. It was made possible by virtue of Republic Act No. 4695 that became a law on June 18, 1966. Finally, Kalinga and Apayao became separate, independent provinces through Republic Act No. 7878 on February 24, 1995. It is this date that Bodong Festival commemorates.
Bodong Festival Activities
Activities for Bodong Festival are organized to showcase the vibrant culture of the people in Kalinga. They include an agro fair, capitol bazaar, sporting events, fashion show, gala nights, student competitions such as in drum and lyre, thanksgiving mass, job fairs, photo exhibits, carnival, fireworks display, and other cultural shows.
Here are some of the highlights.
Awong Chi Gangsa
Awong Chi Gangsa translates to A Call for a Thousand Gongs. It was introduced in 2014. Over a thousand dancers in native costumes participate in the activity where more than a thousand gongs are beaten. It is scheduled a day before the founding date, and it represents the flourishing province as well as its peace and order situation.
Bodong Agro-Fair is an open market where each constituent local government units displays products that are locally made. They also compete and win prizes based on the products that are displayed and total sales for the entire duration of the fest.
Diddiga ti Tupayya
Diddiga ti Tupayya or Digdiga ti Tupayya is a traditional dance in Kalinga. A community-centered activity, it is a courtship dance between a man and a woman. In 2019, the Department of Tourism expressed hope that it would be included as one of the intangible cultures recognized by the UNESCO. The event generally takes place either on the eve or as one of the culminating activities. Participants are dance contingents that are representatives of the different localities of the province.
Grand parade and street dance competition
Grand parade and street dance competition are one of the highlights of the festival. People witness contingents coming from different localities compete in the street where they perform cultural dances.
Miss Kalinga is a beauty pageant for females. Considered a prestigious fete, Kalinga women compete in beauty and wit.
How to reach Kalinga
Visitors can book a flight to Tuguegarao Airport in the province of Cagayan and then take a tricycle for an hour-drive that will lead to Tabuk. For land-based trips, buses from Manila are bound to Tabuk or Tuguegarao.
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