Discovering the Indigenous Side of Aklan: An Immersion with Aklanon Bukidnon Community in Panipiason, Madalag | rich'nritch.com

Discovering the Indigenous Side of Aklan: An Immersion with Aklanon Bukidnon Community in Panipiason, Madalag

Locals dancing Inagong, a traditional dance.
Locals dancing Inagong, a traditional dance.

During our Aklan to Antique traverse through Mt. Madjaas, we were invited by Tay Herminio and Tay Roming, our guides from Barangay Panipiason, Madalag, to come back to their vibrant community to experience their fiesta called ‘Pistang Kristiyano’ in the coming weeks. Without hesitation, we said 'yes' to them.

True to our words, Richard and I traveled to Madalag on the eve of May 24. We went on our motorbike from Kalibo to the town proper. Initially, we planned to proceed to Panipiason. However, we were advised by the locals not to because the road is treacherous and the weather is bad. It's been raining cats and dogs the whole day. After securely parking our bike at the front of the town's municipal hall, we looked for a habal-habal to rent. It took us sometime to find one because drivers went home early for the bisperas. Luckily, someone volunteered to bring us there despite of the time and terrain condition. What we didn't expect was the experience of a death-defying ride that night. We had to drive over some rough, slippery, and winding terrain. The wheels slipped many times and we even fell down on a swamp only to find out that our driver has never been to Panipiason before. It was his first time!

The program just started when we arrived at the village at around 8:00 in the evening. We immediately looked for the house of Tay Herminio. We urged our habal-habal driver to spend the night with us in Panipiason instead of going back to the town proper because of the real danger on the road. He agreed with us and immediately informed his wife through a phone call that he can't be back home. Later, we bumped into Tay Roming at the plaza. People started to fill the area. After the preliminaries and speeches, the host announced that the most awaited part of the program has came. We focused our attention on the show. We got totally curious when we heard numerous folks saying, "Inagong eon!" and they started to gather closer to the stage. Clueless, we also made our way in front of the crowd. And voila! A unique dance matched with an equally unique sound was being performed. We were suprised to see the familiar faces of the people we met when we hiked Mt. Nausang (Mt. Maylomay) three weeks ago. They were the same people dancing with full of passion, energy, and enthusiasm. Tay Roming was one of them. Glancing at the crowd, we saw the delight in everyone's face. The sound of the gong overpowered the entire venue as it casted its magical spell on spectators who were in awe and struck by the outstanding performances of the local dancers. It was mesmerizing to witness a very rich culture unfolded before our eyes.

Crowd gathers around us as the locals begin to perform the Inagong dance.
Crowd gathers around us as the locals begin to perform the Inagong dance.
Locals playing the gong, the traditional sound for the Inagong dance.
Locals playing the gong, the traditional sound for the Inagong dance.
Locals performing the Inagong dance.
Locals performing the Inagong dance.
Locals beating the gong
Locals beating the gong
The crowd is enjoying the performance of the locals.
The crowd is enjoying the performance of the locals.

Inagong dance is a cultural dance of Aklanon Bukidnon, the indigenous people of Barangay Panipiason and Barangay Medina in Madalag, Aklan. They were able to preserve their colorful cultural traits and local traditions unaffected by the modern influences.The Inagong is usually performed on special festive occasions. It imitates the living creatures around them such as birds, butterflies, and animals like the monkey, they were able to create beautiful dance steps and elegant movements through the sound of a "GONG" and indigenous musical instruments like bamboo. 

The audience was enthralled by the performance of the locals.
The audience was enthralled by the performance of the locals.
With the punong barangay (village captain) of Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan
With the punong barangay (village captain) of Panipiason, Madalag, Aklan
Taking a pose with the locals in Baranggay Panipiason
Taking a pose with the locals in Baranggay Panipiason

The night ended with so much joy and fun in everyone's faces. It was an exhilarating experience for us. That night, we ate and slept at Tay Herminio's house. The next day, May 25, was the fiesta day so everyone was busy when we woke up. Tay Herminio brought us to his relative's house for us to meet Bobong and Recel. Bobong happens to live in a hut up in the Panipiason mountain and his brother, Recel, regularly visits him there to help him with his farm. We stayed a night in his hut during our traverse. They were very accommodating, genuine, and kind. Recel introduced us to his big family and even served us breakfast with coffee. The highlight of that day was when Bobong started to play his guitar and Tay Herminio sing komposo songs. Other members of the family also took turns in playing the guitar and singing their own komposo and harana pieces. I can't help but join them while Richard enjoyed himself taking videos of us. I chuckled and giggled at the sight of them serenading me. The house was filled with laughter and merry-making. We were like a complete family. For me, that was magical.

With our host family in Sitio Clucisia
With our host family in Sitio Clucisia
Our host family is busy preparing local cuisines for the guests while taking a phone call from a family member.
Our host family is busy preparing local cuisines for the guests while taking a phone call from a family member.
The amazing part of gracing a barrio fiesta is that you will be invited to more than one person’s house to eat, drink, and even sing with them.
The amazing part of gracing a barrio fiesta is that you will be invited to more than one person’s house to eat, drink, and even sing with them.
During their barrio fiesta which they call ‘Pistang Kristiyano,’ the people of Panipiason show their exceptional hospitality by opening their house to visitors and offering them overwhelming food and drinks.
During their barrio fiesta which they call ‘Pistang Kristiyano,’ the people of Panipiason show their exceptional hospitality by opening their house to visitors and offering them overwhelming food and drinks.
Our local friends, Roland aka “Bobong” and another family member, performing the classic Komposo song.
Our local friends, Roland aka “Bobong” and another family member, performing the classic Komposo song.
Locals performing the classic Komposo and Harana songs.
Tay Herminio performing the classic Komposo and Harana songs.

Joining them and taking a pose for a photo as they enjoyably sing Komposo and Harana songs.
Joining them and taking a pose for a photo as they enjoyably sing Komposo and Harana songs.
Joining them and taking a pose for a photo as they enjoyably sing Komposo and Harana songs.
Joining them and taking a pose for a photo as they enjoyably sing Komposo and Harana songs.
Bobong offers a harana song to me.
Bobong offers a harana song to me.
With our host family in Sitio Clucisia.
With our host family in Sitio Clucisia.
With Tay Herminio's family
With Tay Herminio's family

At around 10 AM, we were invited to visit the next village, Sitio Mananggad. It's where we previously stayed after our Libacao traverse. Going there requires one to walk on a swaying monkey bridge made of vines taken out by the locals from the jungle. It's one of the most brilliant bayanihan works I've ever seen and set my feet into! Upon arrival, two families approached us and asked if we would like to be godparents for their children. We wholeheartedly accepted their invitations. After the christening, we hopped to several houses to eat and meet everyone. The last two houses we visited were of Tatay Roming and Pastor Boy, the punong barangay. We were overwhelmed by the warmth and gestures of the people in the community. We almost didn't want to leave. Richard and I went home that day with so much joy in our hearts.

Crossing the Panipiason Monkey bridge that connects Sitio Clucisia to Sitio Mananggad
Crossing the Panipiason Monkey bridge that connects Sitio Clucisia to Sitio Mananggad.
Visiting the house of Tay Freddy in Sitio Mananggad, Baranggay Panipiason
Visiting the house of Tay Freddy in Sitio Mananggad, Baranggay Panipiason.
Carrying my goddaughter after her Christening ceremony.
Carrying my goddaughter after her Christening ceremony.
With our very accommodating host family in Sitio Mananggad.
With our very accommodating host family in Sitio Mananggad.
A beautiful scenery in Sitio Clucisia. A buffalo eating grass in an empty rice field with thick clouds covering the mountains.
A beautiful scenery in Sitio Clucisia. A buffalo eating grass in an empty rice field with thick clouds covering the mountains.

One thing I realized that day was that 'home' is not really about the place; it’s about the people. We can carry our home wherever we go and treat everyone even strangers as our own family. It is always a remarkable part of our journey when we positively touch people lives. In return, it makes our heart grow fonder. We are very grateful we were able to return to this community not because in here we were reported missing but because the beautiful people of Panipiason amazed us by their good nature, warm accommodation, and very rich culture and tradition which deeply touched our hearts as visitors.

About the Author

ritchel's picture
Ritch is a teacher who works full-time on weekdays, travels around Panay on weekends, and visits several provinces in the Philippines and countries abroad in summer. She loves random weekend nature trips, community immersion, and native coffee. Her mantra is "travel and learn." Hiking mountains has long been her favorite recreational activity and reaching out to indigenous people has took her to different places across regions. During her free time, she enjoys writing about her trips and share them to her students online. She is a Tourism Promotion Services NCII holder and commits herself to promoting great about each place she visits, from it's beautiful people to amazing destinations and attractions.

 

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