“Immaliyah hi baleyu..” and other Ifugao love songs-A A +A
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
THE title means “I came to your house...” (as homes then were the normal setting of courtship) which is a very old love song telling the story of a poor suitor who went to the house of his lady supposedly to tell his “love.” The song continues with his sad plight of being pushed at the back that he fell from the elevated door to the ground. The song obviously happened at a period when native houses, whose floor is elevated by posts of at least six feet, were still the norm. The man being sleepy and wobbled by his fall slept under the house telling in the song that he thought he was sleeping with the girl but instead found himself with the pigs the following morning. He did not however took it against the girl as he knew where that she was meant for someone else. His wish at the end of the song was for him to be invited at her wedding so he can be the one in charge of the cooking of “laoya” and “adobo”, and that one of her children be his namesake.
In distant past, economic status was a very significant factor in the success of a courtship. In those times, the nawotwot (poor) are not accepted by the kadangyan (rich) families. One love song summarizes this in the following stanza: “Naligat di mi’yapu hi kakadangyan, tegahin on ukaton di naba’gitan; Pa’dulnabo di m’yapu hi nan nawotwotteulay hi ohanpopayaindapdapa” (It is difficult to be married to the rich as it is required to bring about grown pigs; It is better with the poor as one duck would be enough for the touch.) The reference to animals of course is in line with the custom of the engagement wherein the man’s family is expected to endow the woman’s family with a momon (usually composed of an animal or meat of that animal, a hukup (a food keeper made of rattan), and moma (areca nuts). While the momon is still practiced up to today, the distinction between kadangyan and nawotwot is no longer common.
Obviously, one of the reasons is the change in the concept of who is economically well. Back then, the qualification is the possession of payo and muyung (rice field and forest land). Today, other material possessions and educational attainment are huge factors. Another reason is that people become practical foregoing with the celebration of a wedding with the community which when done would entail the sacrifice of more animals.
Should there still be parents insisting on the old customs of having a grand wedding which in folks words is “pangamungan hi kaboblayanyatulang (to gather community and kins),” young couples often have the solution to compel parents to give their blessings. One such remedy is expressed in one song that says “Otngadanmoyaton ta ya ten nilunnumpohhodan ta? Bumtik ta ad Manila otagge da ayainilatema’id ha adalda... Anakkayangtuwali nan paukat da ammam!” (What will we do when we are already in love? Let’s elope to Manila and they won’t know for they are not educated... Outrageous are what your parents require!)
There are lovers though who acknowledge that the perfection of love in marriage is not really about two people falling in love but would involve others, at least their immediate families. One old love song I heard is about a beloved asking the lover to come visit their home warning about its remoteness. The invitation was for the lover to see the father and mother whose wanoh (g-string) and tolge (native skirt) respectively were stitched several times, to see the siblings who “impongot day mutog da” (their mucus ran around their heads), and many other undesirable situations. The beloved ended the song with a resolution and a challenge: “Mu agge a eh yaagge ah/ otadiyahbodamdama/ Imbaggahidaamanina/ lummuh a agawatan da/ Malahin ah i-Ayangan/ Malahina hi i-Kiangan/ Paddu-paddungnadamdama/ ay ditaditanduwa/” (If you don’t like then don’t/ I don’t like also/ I already told my father and mother/ they told me you’d be cause that they’ll be in debt/ Marry one from Ayangan/ I’ll marry one from Kiangan/ It would be the same as if it were the two of us.)
The experience of love indeed varies. Love songs are the evidence. But love remains “the same” love.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 07, 2013.