Thursday, April 16, 2015

Panait Ritual Opens for Tubong-Tubong Festival

Cross sa Balabago, photo courtesy of Tubungan LGU

Tubong-Tubong Festival in Tubungan, Iloilo is celebrated every 1st of May and is highlighted by the tribal dance competition showcasing excerpts on how Tubungan got its name and exposes the different rituals still being practiced by the Babaylans (ancient priestess or shamans) in the area.  This year, the celebration will open with the Panaet ritual scheduled on April 30 (Thursday) at 9 a.m. in Barangay Batga, 7.50 kilometers away from the town center.

El Pozo Santo, photo courtesy of Tubungan LGU
Coined from a Visayan term dait or “peace and friendship,” (Alzina, Historia de las Islas de Bisaya), the Panaet ritual will be re-enacted on the Cross sa Balabago. It is said that the ritual gathers all Babaylans from neighboring towns and provinces once every seven years during Holy Thursday on the hilly or mountainous portion. 
Babaylanes would gather to the site they call the holy well or El Pozo Santo which still exists even up to this day. Within the premises of the well are the tabuyoc and bayuco trees known to be holy to the babaylanes. Rituals are performed to ask for good weather, rain or to thank the ancestral spirit for good harvest and energized themselves.

In this mountainous municipality, the religious sector has a fairly comfortable accommodation with animistic practices. Tubungan has a long history of the Panaet ritual as recorded in the book Historicas Paginas on the account of Jose Paramos. It was noted that in April 8, 1874, Fr. Isidro Badrena (1870-1874) sacrificed his life and died as a martyr in Sitio Balabago, Batga, Tubungan in the hands of the Babylans led by Ramos who was performing the Panaet rites. The priest was buried inside the old church of Tubungan in 1810.

historic marker of the cross, photo courtesy of Tubungan LGU
Long before Spanish intervention, Filipinos were animistic in their religious beliefs and practices. They believed that variety of spirits live in all objects or are governed by a certain god. Such beliefs were central to healing practices and nature rites needed to maintaining a balance between this world and the afterlife. Rituals were performed by offering sacrifices and often accompanied by prayers either for a request or for thanksgiving. These practices were initiated by a Medium. Filipinos believed that proper ritual feasting to the spirits would appease them resulting to a bountiful harvest or recovery of the ill, etc.

Such beliefs and practices about spirits were observed even at the height of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines and were considered as acts of evil. Animists were considered as a threat to the new Christian religion and Spanish clergies find them very destructive. The clergies tried to win the animists with the Cross and exterminate them with the Sword.

However, Spanish colonizers failed to completely eradicate the babaylans. They continue the rituals just the same.

Tubungan Church, photo by Bombette G. Marin
Tubungan in the First Congressional District of the province is famous for its rolling hills with considerable number of waterfalls, springs and caves. It is a mountaineer’s playground. Aside from these scenic attractions, the town has its own share of historical sites to contribute to the Heritage District of the province.

The fourth-class municipality of Tubungan is 41.1 kilometers away from the city. Located in the southwestern of the province, it is politically subdivided into 48 barangays over its 8,518 hectare land area. It is bounded on the north by the municipality of Leon, on the south by the municipality of Guimbal, on the east by the municipality of Tigbauan and on the west by the municipality of Igbaras.

To get to the town, one can take a Tubungan jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or when in the city, at the market situated at the back of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact Mrs. Marlyn Tagudar at 09152893395 or at 3960754.

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