December 22, 2014 
 
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The Talaandig
Victorino L. Saway
Articles

       The Talaandig are one of the indigenous groups in the province of Bukidnon, Mindanao Philippines who has continued to preserve and promote its indigenous customs, beliefs and practices despite the strong influx of modernization and change. The Talaandig population is roughly estimated to be at about 100,000 people or more. The members of the group are found in barangays and municipalities surrounding the mountain of Kitanglad, the historic domain of the Talaandig people.

Belief System

       The belief on the existence of the highest God called Magbabaya and the spirits who guard and protect nature is manifested in the social, economic and political aspects of the life of the Talaandig. Thus, when the Talaandig establishes a farm, he performs the Talabugta and Ibabasuk rituals, after harvest, he performs the Pamamuhandi for the thanksgiving, for the recognition of the superior leadership, he performs the Panagulambung, when he goes hunting, the Punaliket and palayag, and for a higher form of socio-economic and political activity, the Talaandig performs the Kaliga ceremony.

       The belief of the Talaandig on the existence of gods and spirits is also reflected in the protection of the house. These include Dadagunan hu Suguy who guards the lawn of the house: Anilaw ha Sumagda who guards the door, Sinyuda Kahibunan who keeps the hall, Diwata ha Manilib who records the activity of people inside the house and Diwata Pinatanlay who guards the house at the ridge of the roof.

       The Talaandig belief on the existence of the human soul called Gimukud or Makatu is manifested in the pregnancy ritual called Panlang. During the ritual, the goddess of pregnancy is invoked to protect the soul of the unborn child and the mother against evil. When the child is born, Kagmakatu ritual is performed to formally welcome the child as member of the family.

Kinship

       Marriage is the most significant basis of Talaandig kinship. Before arranging marriage, the consanguinity and affinity relationships of contracting parties are determined as basis for settling the appropriate customary laws and procedures. During marriage, counseling is established as guideline to preserve relationship. This  is carried out in the observance of the Bayluwa custom where each of the couple is instructed to tell problems related to their relationships as husband and wife only to their parent-in-laws. This custom provides smooth relationship with in-laws who have the parental authority to discipline their own children.

       In Talaandig kinship terms, a father is called Amay; a mother, Inay; a brother, suled; a sister, atubay. Uncle is called Aba or Abang. While an aunt is called Ida or Idang. Apu is a general term for grandparent. Parent-in-laws are called Ugang. A son-in-law is called Makaamong while a daughter in law is called Lagambay.

Indigenous Knowledge and Oral Traditions

       The Talaandig learning system is embodied in various forms of oral tradition. These tradition includes the narratives called Nanangen, epic called Ulaging, poetic songs called sala and songs called Idangdang Limbay are particular songs about animals.

       The long historical narrative of the Talaandig is call Gugud. It is considered sacred because it relates to the existence of the gods and spirits at the time of creation. A Talaandig story to recall is called Barbat while a reference story is called Sampitan. The Talaandig sayings or proverb is called Basahan; a customary law, Batasan while a brain twister or riddle of the Talaandigs is called Antuka.

Indigenous Leadership and Customary Laws

       The Talaandig indigenous political system and leadership are governed by existing customary laws called Batasan. Batasan is a set of sacred customs, traditions and policies sanctioned through the religious beliefs and practices of the tribe. Being sacred, the leadership of the Talaandig community under the sanctions of customary laws is highly respected. A ritual to institute the Talaandig leadership is called Panagulambung. This ritual is done in the presence of other leaders as a confirmation and proclamation of authority of a Datu. A Datu is a mediator and a leader. His major role is to intervene in conflicting relationships in order to secure peace and harmony in the community. In moments of crises, the Datu readily takes the responsibility to lead.

Healing

       The Talaandig has two methods of healing illness. One is through a religious ceremony. Another is through the application of traditional herbal medicine. Illness is treated by means of a religious ritual when the Mananambal (healer) who is usually a Baylan, a prophet or medium believes that the illness is inflicted by spirits. Traditional herbal medicine, on the other hand, is applied when the cause of the illness is natural. In most cases, ritual is prescribed only when the natural healing power of herbal medicine fails to cure the sick.

Economy

       The Talaandigs are semi-settled agriculturalist in the uplands. The traditional crops of the Talaandig include corn, rice, rootcrops, abaka and banana. These crops are usually produced at consumption levels. Supplements to this subsistence level economy are   raising chickens, pigs and other livestock. Pigs and chickens are usually utilized for religious purposes while large animals such as horses and carabaos are used for payment of debt and other financial obligations. The Talaandig technology includes blacksmithing, weaving, embroidery, hunting and food gathering.

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About the Author:
Victorino L. Saway is known in the Talaandig community as Datu Migketay. He is the president/tribal administrator of the Apu Agbibilin Community Incorporated in Lantapan, Bukidnon.
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