The ancient home of the datus-A A +A
Sunday, February 19, 2012
MY IDEA that the hill on which foot I was born as being the lost settlement of ancient Kagay-an stemmed from an “oral tradition” that my grandfather passed on to me. The Molugan hill, according to him, was the “himoan ug tulugan” (where sleeping quarters were made or resting place) of the datus and his people in the ancient time. It was then mentioned in history as the Himolugan settlement.
This “oral tradition” is the rock of stability to my contention of the historical value of this hill.
To further support my position, I would like to share the personality profile of the bearer of the “oral tradition.”
Moises Ebajay, the father of my mother Leonora, was a no-nonsense person. It was said that he grew up as a ward of a priest because he was orphaned early. But it made me wondered why he was an illiterate and a wholehearted animist-polytheist. When asked about his birthday, he reckoned it this way, “Napulo na ko katuig sa dihang gipatay si Rizal (I was ten years old when Rizal was executed).”
I observed and noticed that he was “a jack of all trades.” He was a farmer, a fisherman, a carpenter, a blacksmith, a coconut and tuba gatherer, a wild boar hunter, a weatherman, a weaver, a sort of a shaman, a sort of a musician-composer, a sort of a sculptor, a warrior and perhaps a pottery-maker as his cousins were. I observed that whatever he does, he had focus. It seemed he was an expert in any field of interests in his time. He was a quiet and an observant person. I was amazed at his ability to sense the presence of a snake or a centipede through his ears before he could see it with his eyes. He had the ability to calculate their distance from where he is. He seemed to have the ability to sense danger.
As a farmer-musician, he would wake up before sunrise. My grandmother Edilberta would prepare a cup of coffee for him. While she was still building the fire and waiting for the coffee to boil, my grandfather would open a window and murmur some prayers. He would then sit on his favorite bamboo bench by the window and work with his native bamboo flute until a daughter gifted him with a harmonica. One of his favorites was the “Star Spangled Banner,” the United States of America’s national Anthem.
As a child, I did not know that his opening was a foreign music. When I grew older, I realized that he seemed to start his day with the US national anthem then his musical compositions would follow. I wonder if he was aware that such music was an American anthem.
After his coffee, he would then hitch to his carabao and would start his day by toiling before the sun pops out. By around eight-thirty, the kids would race to take hold of the “bugyong” to sound a call for his breakfast. His breakfast then would be cooked milled corn with inun-on (stewed fish spiced with onion, garlic and ginger seasoned with salt and vinegar) or with sinugbang bulad (broiled sun-dried, salted fish) or with ginamos (saucy salted fish). Of course, his coffee was his daily breakfast treat. If lucky enough that a passing neighbor who come from his fishing trip would share his catch, then my grandparents would be treated to a kinilaw (fresh raw fish spiced with ginger, onions, hot pepper, sap from a sineguelas trunk, vinegar and pinch of salt). The grandkids would enjoy their “tinughong” (milled corn porridge with brown sugar) or “lugaw nga binulad (finely milled corn porridge).
As a fisherman, my grandfather only fished for family consumption. After noontime, right after his lunch, he would indulge himself into tobacco chewing, which in native term is “maglagut.” After a few minutes of siesta, he would take out his tools, different knives and blades. He would inspect, sharpen, oil, clean and whatever is to be done to make his treasures in top shape, including his rifle.
My grandmother would also go to her mat weaving corner while my grandfather was enjoying himself in his elements. After finishing his after-lunch ritual, he would ask from my grandmother for his “sumpap-ang pang-pangisda” (the native term for his tight short pants for fishing).
Then he would put on his “bukaga pang-pangisda (fish basket-belted around his waist) and would take with him his “laya” (fishnet) or his “bubu” (bamboo fish trap, weaved with uway-rattan strips).
With his fishing gears in place, the old man would head on to an hour trek to the shore along the northern coast at the base of Molugan hill. I had never seen him went home empty. If he had more than enough catch for supper, the extra fish would be cooked as inun-on. If the catch was rather plenty, my grandmother would make it into a ginamos, bulad or tinabal (a slightly smoked salted fish).
I said he was a weaver because he did weave his own “bukaga” and “bubu.” When fishing, the “laya” was used if the sea floor was sandy while the “bubu” was used when the sea was shallow. Other men used the “tubli” for fishing. It is a poisonous sap from the “tubli plant” which abounds at the cliff of Molugan hill. He would “puna” (repair with a kind of bamboo tatting tool) his own “laya.”
My grandfather was a weather man as he knew when to go out for a favorable fishing trip. His weather forecasting ability was a big help as a farmer and as fisherman. He was a “magsasaka or mananaka” (coconut-gatherer). He was also a “mananggiti” (the term for a tuba gatherer). Once when he just came down from his sanggotan (a coconut tree just reserved for tuba gathering), I was surprised that he asked me to taste what was from his “sugong” (a bamboo tube container) as he poured it on a “hungot” (a coconut shell dipper). I was scared, because I know it was wine but he bade me to taste it only. It seemed to me he took pride in what he could produce. I succumbed when he told me, “See, I can make Tru-Orange from this tree. This is a ‘dawat’ (freshly harvested tuba), it will not make you drunk.” He was right since I found out it even tasted better than Tru-Orange.
He was a “mangangayam” (wild boar hunter). He had this circle of friends from the outback of Molugan, westward to a place named Tuling. It seemed a bit mysterious to me then, for he was the only one who bonded with them. He did not expose his family to this exclusive brotherhood of his. He appeared to be the group’s leader. It seemed to me they belong to an ethnic group which we called “Gali.” We called them “mga kagupa ni Tatay nga Gali.” Whenever their group would go on hunting, they had some sort of a ritual where there was spitting of “mama” (betel nut) and some kind of chants. They would do their thing farther from my view as a child. I knew there was a ritual as Tatay would take with him his “malam-an” (a box for betel nut) and they would huddle under a shade of a tree. My memory about his hunting activities is rather hazy. I can only recall witnessing this event twice. The native term for wild pigs is “kalasanong Baboy.” Some migrants would call it “baboy ihalas.” As I grew older, I have observed there was seldom a kasahos” (sundried porkmeat) in the farm. Maybe he was getting old for hunting. Then time has come when he no longer went with the group but sometimes he still received a “hilas” (share) from the group’s hunt.
It seemed to me he was a shaman of sort because he would officiate some rituals like the one done by his group before hunting. He would not summon anybody to perform the rites for his “buhat-buhat” (rituals before planting and harvesting) as he would do it himself. He had his own chant and prayers. He believed that there were gods in everything and every place which he called “apo” -- “apo sa kahoy” (god of the trees), “apo sa suba” (god of the river), “apo sa dagat” (god of the sea), etc.
My information is cursory as to his being a warrior. According to my aunt, Tatay was recruited as “Konstable” in his youth when still bachelor. It was said that his known mother, Tomasa, would get nervous every time there was a fighting mission. It seemed he went to war against marauders. I wonder which war there was in this area of Misamis near the vicinity of Molugan in his bachelor days. He had an old revolver and an old rifle. He had a big “sundang” (extra big machete) which to me was scary in size. He kept them always shiny and sharp even if it was only idle. That special “sundang” was not one of his farm tools. Some of his farm tools were the “porok” (for tilling the soil), the “sanggot” (sickle) for coconut and “tuba” gathering and of course, his “daro” (plow). According to his son, he was feared and respected among his group as he was expert in handling his crude weapons. They said he was an expert in wild pig hunting using a spear. They said he was “hanas sa bankaw” (an expert in handling a spear).
As a sculptor, I admired my grandfather for his talent in engraving figures with the “putot” (budding coconut fruit the size of a fist). He was also good at carving using any medium that was handy wherever he is. As a child, I raised so many questions and if he gets annoyed with me, he would pick a “putot” with his sharp knife and amuse me with amazing figures that looked real. He did it to divert my attention from an issue I was then raising. One time I argued with him because he will not let me use the newly constructed bamboo toilet which was antipolo type. It was the first toilet I ever had seen in the farm. I cannot use it because that was for the Sanitary Inspector only. The villagers were made aware that there would be random inspection any time. The toilet was padlocked and he would not let me borrow the key. It was then his order. So it was.
The old man was a carpenter. He can finish constructing a hut without nails in less than a week and without an assistant. I also consider him a blacksmith because other people call him a “gapanalsal” which to me means he can be a blacksmith. “Mananalsal” is the term for blacksmith. I have personally seen him doing a blacksmith’s job.
Moises Ebajay, my Tatay, has no middle name as he took the family name of Tomasa Ebajay who was said to be his mother and caregiver. Tatay was raised by a priest, who gave him the name Moises. To me, his name is quite a mystery. According to my Aunt Aya, the priest told Tatay why he was named Moises. It was because his life had some similarity with the Moises in the Bible. The priest who raised him had told him “Dong, gikan bya ksa sa kaliwat nga adunahan ug luag ug mga kayutaan sukwahi sa imong pagkamao karon (Boy, you came from a prominent and landed ancestry which is the opposite of what you are now),” so he was named Moises. I still have to find out what all that means.
My Tatay Moises was my maternal grandfather. He was the source of the oral tradition that the Molugan hill was where the datus of the ancient times live. My maternal grandmother was a granddaughter of Andres Bombeo, who was the patriarch of the Bombeo clan in Molugan. The Bombeos were oblivious to the existence of the oral tradition, that the land they owned was once a settlement of the Kagay-anons.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 20, 2012.