161 participants attend ISRD webinar on Pioneer Indigenous Knowledge and Systems

In celebration of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, Benguet State University-Institute of Social Research and Development (BSU-ISRD) conducted a webinar on “Indigenous Knowledge and Systems (IKS) in the Cordilleras”. The webinar facilitators and resource persons collaborated for a live streaming at the Carnation Hall of the BSU-Research and Extension Building on August 27, 2020.

A total of 161 participants from here and abroad listened to presentations from four university researchers and BSU Graduate School students. The presentations were all evidence-based research results.

“When I shared a post of this webinar, nabigla ako dahil ang daming mga nagtanong kung paano iyong registration. Siguro ang tanong diyan, is it because we have been uprooted of the culture that we used to know or that our ancestors have been nurturing? Now, we are hungry in re-rooting ourselves. Maganda pong batayan iyon para magsama-sama uli tayo sa ganitong klaseng webinar,” said Dr. Ruth S. Batani, Vice-President for Research and Extension.

ISRD director Gigy G. Banes explained that the webinar was also conducted to address the concern on providing a culturally rooted and responsive basic education, especially that Indigenous People’s Education (IPED) is included in the Department of Education (DepEd) curriculum and even in the Higher Education. She added that the webinar’s main targets are teachers to provide support in terms of lacking Indigenous Knowledge (IK) materials, advocates, and practitioners of IKS in the promotion and preservation of indigenous culture.

Indigenous Knowledge System of the Cordillera

The webinar started with “Bad’iw/Ba-diw: A Unique Ibaloy Legacy” by Jhordan T. Cuilan, faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences- Department of Humanities. His lecture focused on the ba’diw types as forwarded by E. L. Pungayan and the themes treated and tones exhibited in every ba’diw classification. To highlight, the ba’diw types presented include the Batbat or Pinshitan which is chanted during the Peshit (a one or two day curative or miniature prestige feast that does not come cheap among the Ibaloys). Similar to this type is another classification called the Kapi which is rendered during thanksgiving or fortune praying. It generally relates to blessings, fortune, luck, and prophesy so that the ba’diw actually radiates tones of joy and/or gladness. 

The third type is the Pinatjan Ba’diw which is given during the aremag or wake of the deceased. The tone of the delivery or chanting is mourning or grief.

Fourth type is the Ngilin Ba’diw which is rendered during the wedding night revolving around well-wishing prayers, optimistic forecasts, and valuable pieces of advice for the newlyweds. This consequently carries optimistic or joyful tone.

Finally, the last type is the Adadkos Ba’diw which is chanted during other special or common occasions for the purpose of lightening the load or problems of the chanter. This underscores knowledge of the stories of the old with pieces decorated with humor and/or generally light to serious tone.

Ba’diw pieces are songs of prayer in which thoughts and sentiments are personally composed and orally expressed by a chanter. These sentiments are expressed by the words which are key to the chanters’ inner longings and attitude.

In the second presentation, Romar A. Farcanao, faculty member of the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, talked about, “Peden: Peace Pacts in the Context of Sadanga Experiences.” Peden is actively used by the local people of the Cordilleras in resolving conflicts or in maintaining peaceful relationships. Different conflicts are addressed by Peden, such as conflicts arising from shared boundaries, conflicts when a crime is committed by a member of one community against a member of another community, or when accidents happen which may result to fatal or serious injuries.

Peden is very useful in diffusing conflicts and that the conflicts do not result immediately to fatalities or deadly feud. On the other hand, peden is criticized as it is sometimes abused by some penednans to charge more money than the norm from the offending party. Meanwhile, peden also posts fragility as the peace agreements can be easily broken,” said Farcanao


For the third topic, Ke-al A. Alindayo, faculty member of Kings College of the Philippines, provided insights on, “Bogwa: The Exhumation Ritual of the Ifugaos.” He examined Bogwa as an exhumation ritual and as a traditional healing integral to Ifugao well-being. He discussed the procedures and materials used for the ritual.

“Using the Ifugao world view, the human physical world co-exists with the spiritual world. Naaapektuhan tayo ng kaluluwa ng mga namatay na kaya maari nila tayong dalawin sa panaginip o kaya sa pag-inflect ng illness na nagreresulta sa paghalungkat ng mga mensaheng nakapaloob sa mga panaginip o mga karamdamang ito sa tulong ng mun-agba o mumbaki (native priest). The role of Bogwa is to bridge the two worlds.  We send the money and the spirit of the butchered pig to the dead as offerings through Bogwa ritual and apart from that, nakakausap nila ‘yong mga buhay pa,” said Alindayo.

Finally, Matyline A. Camfili – Talastas of the Institute of Social Research and Development talked about “Day-eng: Evolving Performances of Indigenous Songs through Time,” which is another distinct Cordilleran Chant.  This was traditionally performed while doing the Dagdagay or foot massage in the Dap-ay, a political center of the village where concerns of the community are usually discussed.It was also a form of courting in the Ebgan or sleeping quarters for ladies.  Messages relayed trough day-eng are stories of pamagbaga or advice to young men on how to overcome difficulties in life and one’s interest to marry someone.  It is also sung while serenading babies to sleep.  With culture change though, these practices disintegrated but new space and opportunities were also created for its performance with the day-eng’s content adapting to present situation.

IKS as a continuing practice through changing context

As times change, IKS continue to be treated with less value and significance. As Dr. Batani emphasized, "We also have to note that Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) has been fast disappearing. We know that there is displacement of people, land, and resources of the IPs (Indigenous Peoples). IPs who serve as the basis of the continuing practice of Indigenous Knowledge are being threatened but at the same time people find ways to re-inscribe this in another context or in a changing context."

The essence of Ba’diw which is still being practiced in the present is prayer which is why it is present or performed in every gathering of the Ibaloy communities. Cuilan said, “Ba-diw ket dowado…aligwa bengata may a’sel i dowado, mabedin met laeng ja may kansiyon. (Prayers are not only accounted for through the context of speaking but also through singing. Ba-diw equals prayer; that is why we do it in the context or following the essence of different gatherings.”


With reference to Peden, looking back, this was already being used by our ancestors way before the Spaniards came, which they sometimes adapted in trying to reconcile feuding tribal communities. However, the introduction of religion, education, and the national legal justice system slowly dissolved the practice of tribal feuds amongst some Cordilleran communities and consequently, the use of peden as main mechanism in maintaining tribal relationships.

Presently, in resolving conflicts through Peden, customary laws and the national justice system are both used. Local government units (LGUs) with the law enforcement agencies of the PNP and AFP normally help in feud resolutions. Some other non-government and religious groups often try to mediate in tribal feuds, but it is the communities involved in the feuds that determine the outcome of the feud resolution. As stated by Farcanao, “There are cases that end being unresolved even for decades even if the military had already been involved, which means that the government can only do so much because, ultimately, it is the tribal communities that can only resolve these feuds with finality.”

In the case of Bogwa, addressing the concern as to how this ritual may be appreciated given that at times, the dead inflict pain to their descendants as a way to send or signal a message, Alindayo expounded, “That was also my initial perception about Bogwa before but by understanding the connection of the living and the dead, it is really a matter of understanding and acknowledging what we do with what dead ancestors want us. Because most of the time, hindi naman sila agad-agad nag-iinflict ng pain or illness but napapanaginipan natin sila to further or to deliver their messages or their request sa ating mga living. I think last resort na nila ‘yong pag-inflict ng pain sa mga tao.”


Also, as seen by Alindayo, the people of Sanafe can maintain their practice of Bogwa by recognizing the love to their ancestors, to mention that Bogwa is not only conducted to heal the sick but also to recognize and to act as the clan reunion for the family and if they contextualize it this way, then this practice can continue to pursue and persist through time.

Meanwhile, given the intangible characteristic of the Day-eng as a cultural heritage, Camfili-Talastas shared that “activities mandating the students to perform day-eng during the IPED month, Buwan ng Wika, barangay or town fiesta among others are opportunities for students to learn from their parents or grandparents”. She proposed that, “the partnership of the elders or the barangay LGU with the schools to systematize learning and documenting day-eng while the traditional performers are still around is a proactive way of transmitting this to the younger people.  On the other hand, continuous compositions of day-eng to depict community values as well as social realities are also encouraged.


            Emphatic of the synthesis, Kristine Baniqued-Dela Cruz, ISRD Education section head, commented that, “Mahalaga ang pagtutulungan ng pamayanan ng mga matanda o community of elders, tagadala kultura o culture bearers, mga guro at mga nasa ahensyang pampubliko at pribado para mapahalagahan at maipasa ang mga karunungan ng mga katutubo na nagsisilbing bahagi ng pagkakakilanlan o identity ng mga tao.”

Perspective and ideas brought by the webinar

With this uncertain time, given the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, adjustments have been and continue to be made to cope with various challenges. Framed in the context of learning, webinars continue to become one of the most efficient ways of delivering significant contents. Hence, as the ISRD facilitates its very first webinar, balance of advantages and disadvantages have been noted.

            Mercedes Matias, ISRD administrative aide, commented that, “In terms of processing documents for the webinar, it is not easy as it takes time for the papers to be signed or approved and compromises were needed to be done for it to push through.”

            Moreover, Alladin Bañez, ISRD Research Assistant, being the moderator of the webinar explained that, “In virtual, there is no real interaction and you do not know if the participants are really listening or if they understood the lecture. Para sa akin na moderator, mas mahalaga ang participation ng participants as we engage with them. You do not see or have no idea as to how the webinar gives impact to them at that moment.”

             In adition, Kacy Labon, ISRD Research Assistant, willingly expound that, “The webinar in terms of cost is cheaper as you do not need to prepare kits, there is a definite number in terms of meals so no under or over budgeting, and no transportation expenses. In terms of pre, proper, and post of the webinar, it is less stressing nang konti lang naman than face to face because you do not need to do on site fixing if the number of the participants exceed the estimate, the challenges and problems have been pre-empted and that can be fixed easily or immediately since it only ranges to technical issues of no audio or video and no internet connections.” 

            As explained by Fran Jim Dilla, ISRD Research Assistant, to ensure the video and audio quality of the lectures, these were pre-recorded, although the question and answer was live using the Zoom app. The videos both from the Zoom app and the pre-recorded were combined using the open broadcaster software which was the one used to stream the webinar and had been copied to Facebook. Hence, the Facebook page is where the comments, suggestions, and questions of the participants were seen and was also used in disseminating the information of the webinar and its registration using the Google forms.

            On the other hand, a new perspective on conducting trainings was brought out through the webinar, where once the pandemic is over or the situation is normal, a venue on using both face to face and online trainings are seen. 

            Bañez said, “It opened an idea of a different way of documenting a training in such a  way that electronic copy can be posted in a trusted platform where anyone can go back to it and listen or view the training. Also, online training is most applicable to seminar series such that 30 minutes or 1 hour every day can be allotted for one speaker instead of combining the entire lecture in a day that can overwhelm the participants.”

            Labon added that, “In terms of capacity building such as workshop or hands on training, it needs to be face to face but when it is just for lectures or seminars then webinars can be used.” 

            For the participants, many were grateful to have attended the webinar saying that the activity helped them to have a deeper understanding about IKS in the Cordilleras. On the other hand, participants who are not from Cordillera shared that they have “learned a lot about the rituals and culture being done in the Cordillera” and such knowledge they have learned from the webinar will be shared to their colleagues as well. Also, there was an overwhelming requests of conducting more webinars on Indigenous Knowledge Systems.//ISRD