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Justice & peace: the Kalinga way.

WHAT IS THE BODONG?

Among the northern Kalinga folk "Bodong" means "bound together". In the southern part of the territory it is called "Podon" which means "to hold together something that is binding". Symbolically, therefore, the Bodong or Podon binds the two peace pact holders together over the collective security of their constituents. The peace pact enables previously warring folks to live together in peace.

The Kalinga Bodong or peace pact is a socio-cultural and economic institution conceived and painstakingly developed through the centuries out of a need for collective security which is the basis for binding viable communities. It sprung from an ardent desire to live in peace and social security so that advances towards economic prosperity and social stability might be achieved.

From this perspective it becomes clear that the Bodong's original aims were threefold: to enhance economic stability, promote social security and to promote the development and preservation of a cultural heritage that bespeaks of a distinctive ethnic identity.

"Justice in Bodong is more even-handed than in government laws, because most of the provisions of the latter were made favoring the 'baknangs' or the wealthy). In peace pacts, no innocent soul is unjustly punished ... even at the cost of bloodshed."

These are blue streak words from a Bodong holder who has stood, all his life, within the brace of a conviction as tenacious as time itself. At 66, Mauricio Pitag, a brave of Lubuagan, Kalinga is considered as one of the most revered peace pact holders of his tribe. Like most Bodong holders, he views peacemaking in more puritanical terms, castigating offenders of the law of man and God and ready to lay down his life to attain peace and justice, not only for himself, but for others and the generations to come, as well. Like all Bodong holders, his people chose him because of his respectability, wealth and the fact that he belonged to a large clan. Thus, Lakay Pitag was given the colossal responsibility of protecting his people by resolving all forms of disputes among tribes. He keeps the peace among his people--with his life.

Bodong means "bound together"--it is also called podon in some Kalinga territories. Basically, it was conceived to preserve peace and security among tribes. In the long run, it has greatly contributed to the preservation of a rare cultural heritage and a distinct ethnicity of the Kalingas. And although the tribe may be known for its notoriety and violence--the peace pact has established them as lovers of peace through time.

In this light, where do the women of the tribe come in as peace builders? In all publicized Bodong issues--no woman has ever been mentioned as a holder. Usually it is the eldest son who takes on the responsibility.

Does the Kalinga disposition discriminate against women? Are Kalingas chauvinists? Lakay Pitag refutes these by naming certain women from various Kalinga tribes who have assumed the role of peace pact holders over the years. But he admits that women can only assume this responsibility when the Bodong holder dies without a male heir. Thus, the deceased Bodong holder's daughter can assume the responsibility but only if she has a responsible husband and a lot of male kin. She also must possess the same characteristics that the former holder had, such as a good, solid reputation, respectability and trustworthiness. The woman can only make decisions or forge agreements with other tribes, in the presence of her male kin.

He says, that presently, more women are given the chance to take part in peace pact holding and peace building in the Kalinga society--by the binding and pristine tenets of Bodong. Lakay Pitag believes in the aptitude of women peace pact holders, but he claims that it really takes a lion heart to be one. It is not that women are barred from holding peace pacts, but that they are also bound by its rules and regulations.

Here lies a challenge for Kalinga women to make their mark, and change their roles--not only as peace wishers, but peace workers as well. But are they ready to fight for peace, willing to shed blood for peace to be attained? Or are they ready to re-define age-old concepts of peacemaking to suit the changing times?

Only time can tell.

Lydia Bayedbed is Igorota's marketing officer.
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Title Annotation:peace & culture
Author:Bayedbed, Lydia T.
Publication:Igorota
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Oct 1, 2003
Words:719
Previous Article:Tungtungan and Lupon: crossing paths to maintain peace Bokod.
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