In the olden days, folktales were passed on from parents to kids — like this mother (grandma?) and her baby (grandkid?) — while they gathered around the fireplace. Nowadays, kids are always out “doing Internet research” so lets make their web surfing productive by sharing with them the folktales of our people. Nothing beats actual (oral) story telling but what can we do! Photo courtesy of Trix Rosen.
Yo! Young Igorot kid, here’s the chance for you to learn an Igorot folktale. You should thank Carmencita Cawed for including this tale in her book, The Culture of the Bontoc Igorot, and thus preserving it for young Igorots like you. Anyway, imagine that you are back home in the Cordillera mountains (if you are somewhere else) and imagine that you are listening to this story before the days of electricity and you have an old man (that’s me) telling the story while you carefully blow at the glowing coal in the fireplace to keep the fire from dying.
Chacha’ and Ked-yem: This is the story of the two men who set the law and strength of the al-lawig, keeping one’s word in the pechen. The enemy tribe who comes to make a pact with another tribe is protected by it, that whatever they eat or drink or smoke with the tribe with whom they have the pechen would fear no death. Long, long ago, there were two gods by the name of Chacha’ and Ked-yem. One was a warrior and the other a blacksmith. They were very good neighbors.
One day, Chacha’ asked his wife the whereabouts of his two sons. His wife answered that she saw them go up the place of Ked-yem, the blacksmith. Taking a torch, the father went to the house of Ked-yem and asked for his sons. The blacksmith without looking up from his work just answered they were in his house, only that he had cut off their heads as they came everyday to destroy his work. He pointed to the tap-an where he placed the bodies and to the kapan where he placed the heads.
Chacha’ quietly took the heads and connected them with the bodies and both sons lived again. Then before leaving he told his friend the blacksmith that on the following day they will fight this matter out in the mountain. So the following day, Chacha’ and Ked-yem met with their weapons and started fighting. In their strength they pulled out all the trees and plants around them in the forest till nothing was left to hurl at each other. When night came, not one was vanquished.
So Chacha’ said that the fight would continue the following morning in the river. And so the two giants fought it out in the river turning and using all the stones, yet not one of them was hurt or fell. When night came and it was time to go home, the warrior suggested to the blacksmith that they be friends again and have the pechen.
When they looked back where they had fought, they found that kawa (spider) had fenced the river and so they went home. Then Chacha’ said to Ked-yem, “From now on when I eat my rice you shall eat of it and feel safe and when I smoke my pipe, you shall smoke of it and have no fear that it will bring you ill health.” And so, they inchur-is (bequeathed) the pacts of the gods to the earthlings on earth.