Heads of the Spanish, the (rpg)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A tale of the Ipogot headhunters of the Northern Philippines, during the Spanish colonial era.

Submitted: March 27, 2012

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Submitted: March 27, 2012

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Dumay peered out between the ferns that concealed him. The man he watched was dressed as he was, naked but for the wano that covered his groin and a host of tattoos that decorated his back. These were not mere ornaments, but markings, totems indicating the men he had killed. Black inked snakes and lizards, dark winged ginawang, shadows of spiders and insects; the man had adopted the spirits of those he had slain.

The man’s face was pressed against the bark of a tree. One arm groped inside its trunk, hunting for larvae. Finding one, he lifted it between two fingers, still writhing and alive, and dropped it into his mouth. Dumay edged closer; his spear poised. He scanned the man’s body, searching for his brother’s chosen spirit, the mark of the boar. He needed to be certain.

The man turned around, revealing his legs and chest. Across his heart was a newly drawn tattoo. The scarring was fresh, but the image unmistakable. The man was Bokyo, his brother’s killer.

Dumay let fly his spear. It struck Bokyo through the head of the boar, the picture that marked his heart. Bokyo swung to face him, drawn up stiff, as though he would topple over. Dumay slid his kottiwang from its sheath and rose to face his enemy. He drove the knife through the man’s neck. Bokyo fell onto his back on the grass, choking and spraying blood. Dumay stood over him, watching him die.

“My name is Dumay”, he said. “I avenge my brother’s murder.”

When the man ceased to breathe, Dumay withdrew his spear. He took the shield from his back, sharpened one on side for this purpose, and held it high over Bokyo’s neck. He brought the shield down in one fatal plunge, severing the man’s head. He pushed his spear through the point of his spear, stood on top, the open eyes spattered with blood.  Dumay held up his enemy’s head to the sky, and he roared.

 

*

 

Dumay had been walking for two days when he saw the white man. The white man wore cloth like none he had seen, cloth that fit tightly to his body. He carried a peculiar object in his hands. It was fashioned from metal, short and smooth, and blunt at both ends. Dumay thought it perhaps a pipe.

“Deténgase,” said the white man. “Tire su arma al suelo”.

Dumay did not understand the man’s words. He fingered the crocodile teeth at his neck and mouthed a prayer to Mah-nongan.

“I have slain Bokyo”, he said.

He bowed his spear so that the white man might see the head more clearly, so that he might identify it. The white man only screamed at him.

“Tire el arma al suelo.”

Dumay stuck the base of his spear into the ground. The impact set the head swinging from side to side, the dead eyes fixed on the white man. Dumay sat himself down upon the grass and opened his pinuha. From the pouch he withdrew a roll of moma, his own mix of betel, nganga nut and lime, and stuck a wad into his mouth. As he chewed, the dark blend coloured his spittle red.

“Se muy bien lo que tu haces, cazador de cabezas. Déme su machete.”

Dumay stood up and spat a gobbet of dark red spittle into the dirt. The white man now held his queer pipe pointed to the sky.

“¡Soy de España! ¿Entiende? Soy Español.”

Dumay smiled at him, baring his blackened teeth in a gesture of friendship. He grasped his spear and tore it sharply from the earth.

A deafening crack rang out across the sky. It was as thunder, but it had come from the white man. He has drawn the thunder from the sky, thought Dumay, and now holds it in his hands. He fled, forgetting his prize, not knowing where he was going.

 

*

 

It would be a further five days before Dumay returned to his people. The day was a beautiful one. The Sun swathed the lands in a blanket of heat and the sky was a brilliant, clear blue. There was happiness in the actions of his fellow Ipogot, as he observed them coming and going. They women smiled as they cleaned and weaved, and the men too, as they skinned and cut a large boar they had brought home from the hunt. Yet, Dumay could no longer share in this happiness. He could not share in this life, not anymore. He had returned without the head of an enemy, and he knew he would be shamed.

His chosen wife, Ingulun, would not speak with him. She fought off his embraces. Dumay tried to tell her of the white man whom held the thunder inside of him, the man who could birth thunder where there was no rain. She laughed in his face.

“You, Dumay, are a coward”, she said. “Do not make yourself also a liar.”

Later, he saw her weeping alone as she scrubbed the dirt from her clothes.

Dumay spent a lonely day within the shelter of his abung. Not a man, woman nor child would speak with him. He longed to participate in the routine of the settlement, but none would so much as meet his eyes. The story of the white man, this god of thunder, had been passed around. He was now the subject of ridicule. He had returned without a head. He was not a man. He was not Ipogot.

There is one, thought Dumay, there is one who must listen to me. Kabigat, our mobaki, cannot refuse to hear my words.

 

*

 

“Tell me of this man,” spoke Kabigat.

“He was dressed in tightly fitted cloth that covered his body. His skin was not as ours, but paler, and his hair was blonde. He wore no tattoos that I could see.”

“Of which tribe do you believe he came?”

“He called himself ‘Spaniard’. He was not of this land.”

Inside the shaman’s abung, the two men sat and smoked together, drawing tobacco from a long pipe of bamboo. The skulls of animals leered from the rattan walls. A single human head was among them, the skin yellowed, yet preserved. Kabigat too, was a killer of men.

“The legends speak of such people. It is said that they will one day come to these lands, bringing new gods in place of the old. They will bring neither sword nor spear, but a cross that will capture the people.”
“What of this staff that brings thunder?”

“I know nothing of this, but I fear it bodes not well for us. It is not the way of the Ipogot to control such forces. We must never learn to use such a weapon.”

“Then he will come”, Dumay whispered. “It matters not whether others believe my words. The white man will come.”

From ancient eyes sunk into a face wholly decorated with black tattoos, Kabigat gazed at him.

“Leave here. Go into the forest. Bring back proof of the existence of these men. We must convince the others to flee.”

 

*

 

It was long into the night, after all fires had been extinguished, that Dumay set about gathering his meagre possessions. He took up his kottiwang and spear; his shield; his rattan basket and pouch; his pinuha; his pipe.

He had spoken to no one after consulting with the mobaki. It would be no use, he knew. Without proof, his words would not be heard. He had to bring them something undeniable.

He left the shelter of his abung, treading quietly around the perimeter. As he skirted the home of Ingulun, he risked a glance inside. She lay sleeping, her long hair curled about her neck. He wondered if she had already forgotten him. Who was he to her now?

Leaving the camp, Dumay would be reliant on the light of the moon to illuminate his path. It would be more than enough. He knew these forests well.

Dumay knew what he must do. This time, he would not return empty handed. He would find the place that had brought these men of thunder. He would bring back that which could not be denied. He would bring back the head of a Spaniard.

 

*

 

“Kabigat, you must come now! A stranger has come!”

Kabigat looked up from his patient. A child stood in the low doorway of his hut. Yahon, he recalled, son of Botlong. Not a child to play games, least not with him. And yet, he had not predicted they should come so soon.

“Please wait for me,” he said to his patient. He followed Yahon outside.

At the entrance of the camp, two Spaniards stood facing a small army of Ipogot, numbering twenty or more. One of the Spaniards held in his arms the device Dumay had described. He appeared to act as guard to the other man, for it was not he who spoke.

“Por favor, pongan sus armas en el suelo. No deseamos herirlos de ninguna manera.”Antalaw, the head of the tribe, gave order for the Ipogot to encircle the intruders. Antalaw was the fiercest among them, a man battle-worn and scarred; a man whom had won his rank by brute strength alone. Kabigat watched from a safe distance as the Ipogot spread themselves around the white men, their spears thrust out in brace of attack. It was a defensive pose, Kabigat knew. If aggression had been their aim, the Spaniards would be dead already.

“Stand down”, warned Antalaw, in the Ipogot tongue. “Empty your hands, and bow before me.”

“Por favor, pongan sus lanzas en el suelo. Les mostraremos el sagrado libro”.

The Ipogot moved in closer, so that the Spaniards were standing in a circle of spears. From where they stood, Kabigat now saw, they had clear sight of the heads that decorated the gates of their settlement. Such trophies were likely to put the fear into them, as indeed was its intention. Yet this was no time for violence. If Dumay was to be believed, the consequences would be dire.

“Antalaw”, called Kabigat. “Instruct your men to lay down their weapons.”

“These men are intruders on our lands”, roared Antalaw. “Yet, you would have us bend for them.”

“I see great torment to come, if you would force an attack.”

“These men are arrogant. They wish to provoke.”

“They do not understand your command, as you mistake theirs.”

Antalaw paused, as though considering this. The Ipogot held their spears poised to strike. At his word, the Spaniards would be killed.

“Do you not hear me?” Antalaw yelled. “Do you not understand?”

His voice was drowned by a sudden crack of thunder. An Ipogot was struck dead, blood spraying from a wound in his neck. None saw or heard the whisper of an arrow, or even a dart.

As one, the Ipogot charged, thrusting forward with their spears. In seconds, the Spaniards lay dead, spears protruding from every part of their bodies. The Ipogot withdrew. They stood silent, awaiting Antalaw’s command.

Their leader stepped forward. He asked for a shield and held it over the head of this man who had brought the thunder. In one clean strike, he severed the man’s head. A cheer went up from the Ipogot men.

Kabigat watched as Antalaw bent to retrieve the weapon that had slain his brother. The Spaniard’s head swung at his side, the hair knotted around his fingers. The chief held up the device, pointing one end to the sky. Smoke trickled from a hole at the end of its pipe.

A second booming crack burst from the weapon, sent forward into the sky. And over the forests of Benguet, it began to rain.

 

*

 

It was in the shallows of the river Agno that Dumay first spied the girl. Though only her head and arms were visible above the surface of the water, this was enough to be certain she was not of his kin. Her skin was paler than his; it was not the flesh of one often exposed to the Sun. Her long hair was amber brown in colour and fell in curls across her shoulders. But it was her eyes that most caught his attention, even from this distance. They were large and blue, with heavy lashes and prominent lids. She too was a Spaniard.

Dumay trod quietly, as one skilled in the arts of hunting. Yet his movements disturbed the rest of a bush warbler.  The bird took flight with a shrill, piercing song. The girl turned to face him. Dumay held his breath. He was sure she could not see him, though her eyes stayed fixed on his position. He was well concealed, silent and unmoving as the trees around him. Yet, she sensed something, as one knows when one is being observed. Hurriedly, she swam over to the bank and climbed out onto the rocks. There she towelled herself dry and slipped into a dress that covered her body. Taking up a small bag, she started out, following the path of the river.

Dumay waited until the girl was long out of sight before he made his way down to the bank. The earth here was wet from the rains and the prints of her slender shoes clearly visible in the mud. To a tracker such as him, it would be no difficult task to follow her.

 

*

 

Antalaw had not destroyed the device, as Kabigat had advised him to do. This set a dangerous precedent. Antalaw may hold command, but it was Kabigat’s word that was listened to. As mobaki, he stood outside the regular hierarchy of the tribe, a man both revered and feared for his wisdom and power. While the chief had no obligation to follow his instruction, it was not considered wise to ignore it.

No, reflected Kabigat, Antalaw has not relinquished the weapon, and he will not shy from using it should he feel his position threatened. He rules now not through respect borne of his strengths, but through fear alone, fear of this power that is not his to bear. He will not surrender it, now that his position – and indeed his life – may depend on it.

Antalaw then could not be reasoned with. He could not be made to listen. Yet, if Kabigat were careful to evade suspicion, perhaps others might be persuaded.

If the Ipogot were to survive, to continue their tradition, they would need to return to the forest. They must not full under the influence of this new technology. This power, stolen of the gods, was not to be borne by their hands. The true Ipogot would understand this. They would heed his warnings. They would leave this place and go into the forests. They would stay true to the spirit within them.

Kabigat set about his task in the knowledge that it was not he, but Antalaw, whom had betrayed their tradition. His operations began at night, under the guise of visits to the sickly among them. He spoke of what had been revealed to him, of what he knew must now be done. He spoke only to those he felt to be loyal, and only as the opportunity arose to do so. Yet, in time, he succeeded in persuading many among them to make preparations.

When the spirits called him, Kabigat would give the instruction. The message would be relayed through channels already established. Those whom remained true would escape the camp, to return to the forest.

 

*

 

The hours spent in careful observation had not been wasted. Dumay now had a clear impression of the layout of the camp imprinted in his mind. He had hoped to move under the cover of darkness, but it seemed the Spaniards kept their torches burning throughout the night. There were guards posted around the perimeter. He would have to move fast.

Dumay had buried his shield and spear, along with his other possessions, under a marked circle of grass. He carried only his crescent kottiwang. He edged out from behind a bush, sidling down to the camp on his hands and knees. He kept low, careful to break not a twig under his bare feet. He moved swiftly and with purpose, in mind of his target; within a minute, he was inside the camp. Avoiding the light of the fires, he crawled across to his chosen tent. Ever mindful of the guards, he glanced across the camp. No one had seen him. Dumay swept aside the cover and ducked inside.

On a large mat that served for a bed, a hulk of a man lay sleeping. The girl lay awake beside him. She looked up as he entered the tent, her eyes wide. Dumay showed her the knife in his hand and raised a finger to his lips. The man slept on, snoring loudly in heavy, drunken slumber. Dumay crept over to where he lay, knelt beside him and put his knife to the man’s neck. The girl he held with his eyes; she would not scream.

With one violent draw of the knife, he slit the man’s throat. His eyes flashed open as blood sprayed out across the walls of the tent, speckling Dumay’s face and chest. The man brought his hands to his throat as he gargled and choked, but he was already too weak to cry out. The girl back away against the walls of the tent, her arms clasped about her knees as she watched her lover die. It did not take long.

When the man ceased his struggling, Dumay again gestured to the girl, warning her not to make a noise. He set his kottiwang to the man’s neck and began to carve through the flesh and sinew. The bone was difficult to saw with such a tool; it took some time to fully sever the head from its body.

Dumay knotted the man’s hair around his fingers and held up the head for his lover to see. Then, taking her hand in his, he dragged her from the tent and into the night.

 

*

 

Back at the Ipogot camp, the exodus was well under way. Only a small number of their group remained, Kabigat among them. As befitted an elder, he would first see that the others were safely away. He had sworn to be the last to leave.

As such, he was waiting in his tent, collecting up that which could not be left behind, when Antalaw arrived, guardians in tow.

“You have betrayed us, Kabigat. You who should be an example to our people.”

“”Let us go, Antalaw. We wish you no harm.”

Antalaw laughed.

“You think I am scared of you?”

“It is you whom has betrayed us”, spoke Kabigat. “The gods will not pardon your insolence.”

“Be silent, mobaki. Don’t think I cannot kill you.”

“Do what you must. The others are already free. I am no great loss.”

Antalaw held up the weapon. His fingers caressed the metal, his eyes cold and distant. Botlong and his son Yahon stepped forward, putting themselves between the two enemies. They stood silent and unmoving, their eyes fixed on Antalaw.

“Move aside”, commanded their chief, as he turned his weapon on the father.

“Do you want to die, old man?”

“The people are not loyal to you, Antalaw,” spoke Kabigat. “They fear you, that is all. They fear what you hold in your hands.”

“Move!”

“Without it, you are nothing.”

Antalaw fired. Botlong fell to his knees, a hand at his neck. He rolled over on the floor, his body twisting and writhing at his son’s feet. Blood gushed from the wound, speckling the child’s face. Still, he would not move.

“You are a coward,” spoke Yahon. He did not turn his eyes from Antalaw. Botlong ceased his groaning, and lay still. The chief put the rod of thunder to the child’s head.

“Tell me where they are”, he said to Kabigat.

“I will tell you nothing.”

“Speak, or the child will die.”

“Then he will die a warrior, and you, a murderer of children.”

Antalaw turned to his men.

“Take the child away”, he said.

The men did not move. Antalaw turned his weapon upwards. He fired, tearing a hole in the roof of the abung.

At the crack of that invisible whip, the men hastened to do his bidding. The child was led from the hut at the point of their spears.

“You have shamed our people, Antalaw. You have cursed us. You have become a murderer a men. You have stolen from the gods. The power you hold is a great one, a terrible one; it is a power that men should not wield. Yet, it will not make you a god. When the time comes, it will not save you.”

“Are you finished?” Antalaw asked of his mobaki.

“What is there left to say?”

With that, Antalaw shot him through the skull.

“Find the others”, he barked at his men. “Bring them to me.”

 

*

 

At the sound of distant thunder overhead, Dumay looked to the sky.

“Eso no fue un trueno,” said the girl. “Es el sonido de un arma.”

The two of them sat perched on high ground, many hours from the Spanish camp. They had run half the night by the light of the moon. The girl was weak; she had vomited twice as he dragged her through the forest. Dumay had been forced to pause to find water for her. Now that they were a safe distance away, they rested by the light of a small fire. The girl, exhausted from her exertions, lay sleeping.

Dumay left in search of something to eat. If nothing else, there would be snakes and lizards to be found. Lizards especially made easy prey by night, when the light of a torch would render them immobile. Fixed by the flames, they sat rigid; their eyes open, barely breathing. Perhaps, thought Dumay, they considered stillness the best disguise. Sometimes, they appeared to be praying.

Barely moving himself, Dumay brought his tiny blowpipe to his lips, drew in a deep, slow breath and blew it out in a sharp exhale, propelling the dart into his target. In the space of an hour, he caught several small lizards in this way, as well as a kind of grass snake he knew to be edible.

Returning to the fire, he roused the girl from her sleep, stroking her head and hair. He showed her the food he had brought, but she only grimaced and turned away. He skinned the snake with his knife and sliced it into small chunks. These he speared on the needle-like spine of a large fern and set to cook over the fire. He implored the girl to eat; she only wretched, and was sick again.

After drinking a little water, she eventually accepted a little of the meat. As they ate, Dumay tried to ask her of the weapon, of the rod that could bring the thunder. She did not understand his words.

He pointed to the sky, and then at her. He clapped his hands.

“You”, he said, pointing at her. “Bring the thunder.”

He clapped his hands and pointed to the sky once more. This time, she understood. Dumay moved closer, both excited and fearful of her power. She would show him how to make the thunder.

But the thunder did not come. The girl only laughed at him.

“¿Es esa la razón por la que me secuestraste? ¿Para producir truenos y relámpagos? ¿Para traer la lluvia?”

But Dumay was not listening now. He had decided to make this woman his wife. He would marry a god. How could they cast out one whom possessed a god?

He remembered having watched her bathe. Her naked skin, shining in the light reflected from the water; how it had stirred him. He wanted to touch her, to place his hands on her skin, to move inside of her.

“No, te lo ruego. No…”

Dumay tore open the dress that covered her. He pulled at the cloth he found underneath, exposing her flesh. He seized hold of her full breasts, put his mouth to her lips and parted her legs. She struggled at first, but it was the struggle of a mouse in the claws of a hawk, a salmon in the jaws of a bear. She moaned as he pushed his manhood into her.

On a rock, illuminated in the flickering light of the fire, the severed head of her husband stood absurdly straight, as though still alive, a witness to the rape.

 

*

 

When the Spanish next came to the Ipogot, they did not come in the spirit of reconciliation. They came in number, and each man among them carried a weapon. The sight of the emissary’s head, greeting them from the point of a spear attached to the entrance of the camp, did little to assuage their temper. The Ipogot would surrender their weapons and swear loyalty to the cross, or else they would perish.

Those whom remained loyal to Antalaw were made to stand guard. Though they would never show it, there was fear in their hearts. Their adversaries held in their hands the kinalat, the power of lightning. Without feigning to touch, they could strike a man dead. Moving only a finger, each of them could tear a hole in the sky. How could one fight such an enemy?

“Suelten sus armas”, cried he acting as chief among them. “Arrodíllense en frente de la cruz.”

Antalaw ordered his men to stand firm. He himself stepped forward to meet the Spaniards.

“You are trespassers on our land”, he said. “You will leave now, or else face the consequences.”

He held his weapon at the ready. When the Spanish soldiers saw this, they each raised their own, each marking a target.

Antalaw fired. His shot fell wide of his target, if indeed one had been intended. He had never learned to use this machine that had put so much fear into his people. The Spanish immediately returned fire. Each of their shots struck true, felling twelve of the Ipogot, before any so much as lifted a spear. Antalaw fell with them, a hand at his breast. Those few left alive immediately dropped their weapons and ran for the forest, or else fell to their knees. The massacre was over. Those Ipogot whom had not surrendered, or fled in advance of the attack, lay dead or dying. The Spanish had suffered not a single further casualty.

 

*

 

When Dumay returned to his home, he found it all but destroyed. The camp had been razed; just three or four of the abungs still stood. He carried the head of a Spaniard on the point of his spear, but there was no one left to see it.

No one but the dead. Dumay looked over the bodies of his fallen brothers. They lay in line, as though slain without a fight, struck dead all at once by an invisible enemy.

“Tu lo provocaste. Ellos solo buscaban a mi marido. Ellos solo me buscaban a mi.”

Dumay ignored her words. He turned over the bodies of his brothers who lay in the mud. Their faces were blackened and stiff, lifeless, though their eyes were open. Kabigat was not among them. Then, had he escaped?

Forgetting the girl, Dumay ran to the shaman’s abung. He found him lying prone on the floor. Botlong, father of Yahon, lay beside him. Both men were dead, killed by the same weapon that had slain his brothers outside. Why then had they remained inside their homes?

Dumay crouched to examine their corpses. There was a rounded hole in the neck of his brother Botlong. Dumay pushed a finger into the wound, seeking that which had killed him. He touched something cold and smooth, and pulled it out. He studied the object in his hand. It was polished and metallic, with the weight of a shaped stone. Not thunder or lightning then, but a bullet, had caused the death of his brothers. This was not the work of gods, but of men.

Upon examination, Kabigat’s injuries pointed to a similar cause, though Dumay stopped shy of attempting to extract the stone. A dead mobaki was still mobaki. It would not be respectful.

There was something else curious about the deaths of these men. Their bodies appeared more decayed than those outside, when precisely the opposite should be true. At least partly sheltered from the Sun, Kabigat and Botlong should have been in better condition. Yet the condition of their skin, and the smell rising from their bodies, suggested they had been killed earlier, at least a day prior to the others, most likely more.

This made no sense to Dumay. If the Spanish had killed these men, as he believed, why had they come twice? How had they been allowed to murder Antalaw and the rest of his kin? And where were the others? There were too many uncounted for amongst the dead; how had they escaped what the warriors had been unable to fight?

And then it came to him, a thought unbidden, unwanted, too terrible to acknowledge. His shaman had not been slain by a more powerful enemy, but murdered by one of his kin.

Dumay was disturbed by a patter of footsteps behind him. He thought the girl to have followed him inside, but turning saw that it was Botlong’s son, Yahon, whom had entered the abung.“Yahon, what happened here? Where are the others?”

The boy would not speak, nor even meet his eyes. He stepped over the body of his father to kneel beside Kabigat. He put a small hand to the shaman’s mouth.

When he spoke, it was in Kabigat’s own voice, the spirit of the mobaki speaking through the mouth of a child.

“It is true, Dumay. It was Antalaw who killed me, and this boy’s father. The Spaniards now number Ipogot among them. They have forsaken our gods. They kneel before the cross borne by the enemy. They are Ipogot no longer.”

“What is to be done?” asked Dumay.

“The men of thunder have come. Thus stolen, this power can never be returned. This knowledge, once learnt, cannot be forgotten. Those whom have forsaken the gods, will take up this weapon. They will use it against their own kin, as Antalaw has done. Yet, this is not what will bring their ruin. It is the cross, not the sword that shall capture the people.

“You must withdraw to the hills, plant the rice, and learn the art of waiting. What you have planted is what you will reap. The industrious will never go hungry. Make no concessions to the conquistador s. In time, you will reclaim these lands. The Ipogot will return as kings.”

 

*

 

Dumay went with the girl into the forest. She taught him gentleness, and to give up the hunting of heads. Together, they buried the head of her former lover. She began to teach him her language, as he communicated his own to her. She spoke to him of her god, whom she said to be the only god. This, Dumay could not understand. There were gods of the trees, of the animals and birds, gods of weaving and of war, of the sky and the rains, of water, and of rice. How could there be only one god? Yet, he loved her, and allowed her such fancies.

In time, they came to be reunited with his people. Dumay was welcomed as one long lost. He was not mocked because he refused to take heads; his brothers too had come to abandon the practice. At first wary, they came also to accept the girl as one of their own. She spoke to them in their own tongue and had long since left behind the clothes of her people. Her skin, now often exposed to the Sun, had coloured darker. In the years to come, she forgot her efforts to convert them to her god. She ceased to speak of Him and on occasion, when she should catch herself in prayer, it was Mah-nongan or Liddum she appealed to.

The same could not be said of the people of Benguet. They came indeed to be captured by the cross, abandoning the traditions of their ancestors. Their own gods forgotten, they knelt before the idols of the foreigners. A cross was placed in every home. They took up the weapons of thunder and used them against their brothers. For three hundred years, the Spanish ruled over the lands of Benguet. Their settlements came to dominate the landscape.

Dumay and his brothers retreated to the hills, resisting the colonists where they could. These hills they shaped into stepped platforms, towering over the valleys. They planted the rice and lived off of the land, as they had always done. The Ipogot alone remained outside of the rule of the Spanish, defying efforts of conversion and subordination, in anticipation of the day when they might return to reclaim these lands, as the mobaki had foretold.

These savage indios, as the Spanish called them, held the invaders in a virtual stalemate for three full centuries. They watched with sadness as the conquistadors set about subduing the ‘wild tribes’ of the interior, leaving behind them a trail of burned and pillaged settlements. The Ipogot continued to resist the efforts of Dominican friars to convert them.  In 1767, they won an important victory, driving the Spaniards from Kiangan. By 1898, the Spanish had been defeated and withdrew from the Cordilleras.  Dumay and his brothers returned to reclaim these lands, these hills they had shaped with their own hands. They were never again to be forced from their home.

 

*

 


© Copyright 2019 RGilham. All rights reserved.

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