04 October 2010

The last of the bobolians-tingolig (village protection)

I wouldn't have met her if it wasn't for my colleague who needed somebody to translate for him. He's researching something on the Dusun communities and has been dying to ask further questions on some hypotheses he's been playing with. So I went with him to meet this ancient lady of wisdom and I'm glad I did.

She is 97 years old and bedridden. And yet her memory is still as sharp as I imagine it must have been when she was a practising bobolian (healer, protecter, spiritual messenger, for lost of exact translation). My friend wanted to know about tingolig (protection of the village and of the household) so he asked me to ask her who she invoked when she was performing the ritual...and what she asked for.

So she told me all about tingolig and more...She said she would invoke Kinorohingan (the Creator), to ask him to give some 'power' to the stick, stone and water that she brought, so that they would serve as the protection for the village. I asked her "where is Kinorohingan?", to which she answered, high above. To go there, she said, she had to follow a kondiu (an eagle). She stressed that she wouldn't physically transcend, but rather her words would until she reached him. She would then asked him to empower the stick, the stone and the water, and went back to the earth. She would then bury those three items at the edge of the village, slaughtered 7 chickens as a symbol of gratefulness. Three years later, a goat will be slaughtered at the same spot to renew the protection, and a year after, the same ritual would be repeated. This year she said, she didn't have the physical strength to perform the ritualfor her village, so she requested her komburongoh (the thing in the pic), a sacred object that every bobolian has to have to do the job, sent the komburongoh through somebody to complete the ritual.

She lamented about the forgotten tradition, about the days when the ways of the bobolians were still practised. She had tears in her eyes when she reminisced about the good old days...and I felt a great guilt for reasons I couldn't understand...maybe for being a pseudo-dusun when it comes to traditional beliefs.


azamain said...

being able to communicate and document such encounter with the practitioner of such belief is a form of gift [to me]. And you guys must be the blessed kind for being able to talk and interview the lady. The belief itself is not far off from other natives of the world i.e the aztec,american indians etc. That's the gold value of being with nature and utilising what it provided. Any recording done,if I may ask ?......:)

Verone said...

azamain- i feel priviledged to have the chance-meeting with her. Hoping to have more such encounters in the future. And yes, there must be a common ground for all the traditional beliefs the world over...yes, there was a recording...and I can't understand 80% of the words! :)

Neo said...

i felt contented for my own ethnic to be known by someone out there. Verone, your writings are impressive and brought big impact for me. well, i felt pleased and at home when i read some of your posts. you really describe my hometown exactly as it is. well my mother is bobolian and my late grandma used to be the head of the tantagas in Tuaran. keep it up, and good luck for your upcoming encounters and adventures.