The parable of Lolo Salikway-A A +A
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
LIKE every young boy, Salikway was adventurous. He loved the outdoors. His heart always yearned to hike the mountains of Bashoy and bathe in its cool springs and waterfalls. Every day, he woke up to the magnificence of the grand Mt. Pulag which was just a couple of mountains away from where his family lived.
As a young boy, he was also very sociable. He loved talking to the elders and listening to their stories. At that time though, children were discouraged to be listening to conversations of the elders. But when he meets old people, he always asks for stories and he asks questions about life before.
Salikway’s mother, Bugan, was a respected Mambonong (native priestess) in the whole municipality. One night, before bedtime, Salikway curiously asked his mother, “Nanang, toy edapoan tayo? (Mother, where did we come from?)”
His mother replied, “Sasakey i sengeg tayo. San-aakhi kitajo. Tinek kono i edapoan ni totoo …(We come from one origin. The people here are brothers and sisters. They say all people came from Tinek…)”
That night, Salikway was wondered how could the many different people in their area come from only one place. And how could all people there be relatives, brothers and sisters. He thought that he should prove this.
That night gave brightness to a life that was devoted to proving that everyone is a kin to the other and hence all people should be caring, concerned and loving to others.
As a young elementary student, Salikway became very interested in confirming that everyone was related to everyone somehow. After school, he would rush to homes of old people in the village. He would ask the elders who their grandparents, parents, children, and relatives were. He always scribbled down this information. Sometimes, he would go home late at night, because of this passion for knowledge.
On weekends, when there are canaos near and far, he would be there. In the canaos, relatives of celebrants from all over Benguet and the adjoining provinces would come. There, Salikway would meet the visitors and ask about their roots and relatives. He would also listen intently to the old men telling how each visitor is related to the people around. Each interview he did made him believe what his mother said that everyone is a brother and a sister to the other.
In weddings or ngilin, Salikway makes it a point to be there. He would listen to the menonton (person knowledgeable of genealogy) as the latter narrates where the couple’s family came from or how the couple may actually be related.
When the war broke out, Salikway’s research was interrupted. He recalls that he hid his notes in between the posts of their hut in Bashoy. The family then trekked to the towering mountains to hide and get away from the Japanese soldiers. Luckily, his notes were still there and intact after the war. He got it and while he was holding it in his hands, he thought of throwing it away as he thought that the war destroyed everything and disrupted life. He thought that he wouldn’t be using it anymore anyway.
But then, the memories of pre-war: his adventures, his interviews, the canaos he attended, the old people he talked to, his goal of proving that everyone is a brother to the other, came back vividly. He decided not to throw it.
He continued updating his notes after the war. When canaos, weddings and feasts were again celebrated, Salikway became much sought after by community people. People began wanting to know who their ancestors were and where they came. There were only few people who knew the information, and Salikway was one of them. He became regarded as a wise man who knew of tonton (genealogy). Even without his notes, he can recount stories and the genealogy of people. He knows the stories and roots of people whom he has never met and this made him more admirable.
Today, Lolo Salikway is more than 80 years old, but his knowledge of tonton is still as sharp as when he was that adventurous boy. In canaos of Ibalois all over Benguet (and other provinces like Nueva Vizcaya), he is asked to be there. Ibaloi and Kalanguya families especially those from Kabayan who want to trace their roots frequent his home in Bashoy. They look for the boy who grew up to be a wise man because of his passion for learning and thirst for knowledge. They thank the boy who had this passion and who proved that everyone is a brother and sister to everyone.
We pray for Lolo Salikway as he is presently ill. God bless you, Lolong.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 22, 2013.