The ways of the Mensapit-A A +A
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
That is a word among Kankana-eys in Benguet and Mountain Province. The common interpretation and understanding of the word cautions anyone against inflicting evil or anything bad against others.
I learned the word in an experiential way from my grandfather and my father too. The word comes out loud during “sapit” and the everyday business of growing up among indigenous folks. “Sapit,” by the way is not so technical and something sacred meant only to be interpreted by experts who claim to be so. Among indigenous folks and my elders, “expert” as we understand it outside of our IP-ness does not make the grade. In our IP-ness we look at anybody as we see ourselves and agree to the things a man or woman does or speak about as “tet-ewa” (truth)) or “gawis” depending on how it connects to what we have heard, seen or experienced. We stand among our folks as we are, “ul-ulay” (of no essence or unbecoming, no matter how we perceive ourselves to be very important and highly educated) or “maling-ag dadlo” (respectable and wise). Minus politics and perverse patronage (introduced and corrupted practices to our sense of being) our people have always known and respected those who have understood life and served as guide to the pursuit or practice of truth and good living.
“Inayan” to me comes in that context. Its meaning and application does not distinguish who is who but boils down to the core essence of “who and what” we are as human beings. My father, when he has to come to that point of expressing “inayan,” put it this way: “Inayan tay ipogao tako dadlo.” In English, the expression hinders people or advises them to proceed with great caution if not, act decisively and fast depending on the situation or need. It is expressed and acted on with a mind and conscience - after an analysis of experiences, what one has heard and seen, and how a difficulty or problem can be helped or corrected - inayan.
It goes deeper. The Mensapit knows the “waned” or thread of history among communities, tribes and peoples. He refers to it at will knowing how the ancients helped life amongst peoples to prosper. “Inayan adi tay Ipogao tako” simple means we are a people, past, present or future. Among the ancients and in any of their communities, any child is everybody else own. Any man or woman is expected to advise, teach or administer discipline to any child from the community anytime, anywhere. It is part of the caring ways of the people which includes mothers sharing milk to a baby from their own breast if a baby is hungry and its mother is not yet home.
The “waned” recognizes too the inter-marriages of people far and wide amongst tribes. Out of a community’s love for their young, the “waned,” shares and binds relationship with other peoples in other tribes. The “waned” can be stretched to as far as a man or woman has seen or heard; and “inayan” cautions his or her conscience to respect, behave well and care for others. “Inayan” and “waned” tells any good thinking being that somewhere in the past they come from the same trunk – of one blood. And who knows, somewhere in the future, their children will yet again cross paths and get married. We continue to be a people and the children are our own to care and train as the ancients in their greatness have done – with bravery and courage at its finest – so that we may live in these mountains.
Growing up, I fought my battles with a lot of others my age and those bigger than I was. It did not matter if the fighting was man-to-man or in a ramble with groups in or outside of the neighbourhood. Anytime, anywhere it happened. Broken limbs and ear drums were part of my growing up in a world of “sapit;” a world that needs to understand life and hopefully live with wisdom among folks whose relationships can go deep into the generations past or look ahead into the distant future. I hated the way it was told, exercised and followed.
I just hated the fact that my dad was the “Mensapit” that he was. I seem to have sensed early on that the world hs changed and belong to the smart and the strong. I wanted to have my way too in this world. Later, I wanted to become a lawyer and be as great as anyone. But my father proved to be a real hindrance to my desires even if I had to run to my tall and husky grand dad time and again, he always won. Father and son had me bound to good behaviour and the logic and preciseness of their ways until I finished going to school which I also hated. My father sent me to Quezon City. Perchance, I would be enticed to become a priest. I ended up living in the Sierra Madre wilds. When I came to my senses, I pleaded for his help so I can finish a college course in agriculture. Case unsettled still.
When my father retired from the mines, he returned to his “mensapit” ways. He was as tireless and persistent in having cases settled in Barangay Paco which covered much of Lepanto Mines. It was during his time that Barangay Paco won the national prize as most outstanding lupon. As far as I know, they won because the lupon cared much about people as people - whatever place or tribe they come from. In Lepanto where there are all kinds of people and waywardness, the lupon felt that all the more, the ways of “inayan” should be known and shared. They may not have lectured on its merits. They settled cases by making people become who and what they are – good men and women with a conscience and caring enough to care for others --- to change for the better.
Some lawyers including the smart and the strong had better ways to settle those crimes, misdemeanours and bad human behaviours? Of course but I just don’t subscribe to most of them now. “Ul-ulay,” (Unbecoming of and to human beings). “Ay inayan (It is not the way of the heart. It would not change anything).”
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 17, 2012.