The Tagbanua Rituals

The Tagbanua Rituals

  • Lambay
The lambay is held two times a year. It is observed first in January, and involves ritual appears to the deities for days of sunshine and winds that sufficiently dry the forests and prepare them for clearing and planting. A second one is held in May, when the people ask for moderate rains that will make their upland rice grows.

There are two rituals, which seeks protection for all Tagbanua wherever they may be, from the feared salakap, the spirits of epidemic, sickness and death. These two rituals are the pagbuyis and the runsay.

  • Pagbuyis
The pagbuyis is performed three times a year. The first is in November, and second in December. The third is when the moon can be seen during the daytime, called magkaaldawan.

  • Runsay
The runsay is described as the most dramatic of all Tagbanua rituals. It is observed only once a year, at nighttime, on the fourth day after the full moon of December. It takes place on the beach near the mouth of the Aborlan River. The runsay, like the pagbuyis, is held to ask for protection against epidemic. The ritual begins at dusk and ends at dawn.
  • Phases Of Runsay

There are five distinct phases in the runsay. These include:
  • 1st phase - the building of the bangkaran or banglay, a 3.6m ceremonial raft
  • 2nd phase - the panawag, invocation to the spirits of the dead and the nine deities who rode the kawa on the sea; the burning of incense on the kadiyang atop the bangkaran; prayers by the rituals leader; lighting of the candle and offering of ritual foods to the deities
  • 3rd phase - the second call to the deities to partake of the food, which the signal for the children to dive into the mound of food on the raft, and eat as much as they can; and the cleaning up and repair of the raft.
  • 4th phase - the third invocation to the nine deities, followed by the individual family offerings represented by a woman; the tying of the chicken to the platform and the lighting of candles beside it; the hoisting of the raft towards the sea; the re-lighting of candles blown out by the wind; the throwing of a pinch of rice to the sea; and the voyage seaward of the bankaran.
  • 5th phase - includes group singing and dancing after the raft has disappeared

  • Pagdiwata
At the center of the diwata rituals is the babaylan, who has the responsibility of selecting the areas for a new clearing, placating the spirits of the surroundings, providing magical charms for hunters and fishers, and curing all kinds of ailments. While any adult can invoke the spirits of the dead in other Tagbanua rituals, only the babaylan can summon them in the pagdiwata.
  • The bilang ceremony is the all-important ritual for the dead. It takes place after the rice harvest, a time when tabad becomes plentiful. Every family is expected to host one or more bilang rituals. The bilang rituals begin with the rite of divination, to determine which among the spirit relatives has caused a person's illness. This makes use of the babaylan, who performs the brief rite of panawag near the grave of the dead relative by making offerings of the betel quids and ceremonial cigarettes, and promises tabad should the ill become well. The celebrants together with the offerings prepare a jar of tabad with sipping reeds. The bilang ceremony involves the paurut invocation of as many spirit relatives as possible through incantation, and the burning of the parina incense whose pleasant smells attract the deities and spirits of the dead. The gongs are played as the paurut is being performed, and their music is an added incentive for the spirit to descend on the gathering. After the ritual offering of the articles have been laid out on the mat, the food is distributed to the children first, and then to the guests; then the bilang mat is removed. The communal drinking of tabad through the reed straws follows, a very festive social event that lasts through the night.

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