ELDERS of Kabayan want to appease spirits in the playground of the gods. Kabayan folk are seeking to administer appropriate rituals to appease the spirits of the sacred mountain following the torching of the 5.9 hectares of grasslands of Mount Pulag last month.
Provincial Tourism officer Clarita Prudencio said Mount Pulag, which is considered as the playground of the gods has been desecrated. "In the belief of the Ibaloy, once they passed away, their soul goes to Mount Pulag.
A desecration of our cultural beliefs has been made because we consider the mountain sacred and playground of the gods guarded by spirits called 'tinmongao'," said Prudencio. Prudencio added most of the mountains in the province are considered sacred which serves as burial and heritage sites adding these areas are off limits to drugs and liquor.
Mount Pulag National Park superintendent Teber Dionisio said a meeting was held Monday to discuss the cost of damage in the sacred ground and of the spirits have been disturbed after elders in the area have asked if they can conduct prayer and ritual within the damaged site. Dionisio added elders have sought to butcher pigs using the traditional process called 'uwik' wherein a wooden spear-like is thrust into the pig's heart, while a mambunong, a local priest or priestess acts as the medium between the offering and the supernatural.
Prudencio said an ordinance passed in 2016 identifying, preserving and protecting all heritage sites and structures located in the province was approved by the provincial board and governs mandates their protection protected which includes Mount Pulag. Mt. Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines at 9,922 ft. above sea level and home to many species of highland flora and fauna including the dwarf bamboo which covers its bald peak.
The damaged area composes 1.5 percent of the total 387 hectares grassland as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Cordillera has taken legal action against the group of hikers who allegedly caused the fire incident.
The legal department of DENR-CAR is now computing cost of damage of the 5.9 hectare area. Criminal charges have been filed in the provincial prosecutor’s office against seven mountaineers led by Ramon Kristomar Mackay, whose butane-fueled portable stove exploded.
The hikers face violations of provisions of the Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System and the Presidential Decree 705, known as the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines.
By By Lauren Alimondo