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The Origin of Wood Carvings

by Alipio Mondiguing

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In the early days in the barrio of Hapao, Banawe, Mountain Province, there lived a couple by the name of Cabigat, the husband, and Bogan, the wife. They had a little boy who became ill when he was five years old. His parents were afraid their only son might die. They butchered and offered many chickens and pigs to their Gods. But the son did not recover.

One day when his father arrived from the fields, he opened his jar of rice-wine. The boy saw him and begged for a cup. His father was not used to share wine with his son, but gave him a little. After drinking, the boy suddenly got up, sang and danced. His father became very happy and said, "You are now well, my boy, and you may eat with us then."

"Yes father," he said. "But hear! I hear music! They are playing the ganza (a native instrument)." The father tried to listen. He looked at the door, but there was nobody in sight. He felt happy, however, and urged by a strange power, he danced with the little boy.

In the evening at supper the father told his wife that they must have a canao (a native feast). But his wife said, "No, we cannot. We don't have much money, nor do we have pigs and carabaos to be butchered." At this instance the boy became very sad and appeared to be sick again.

"Never mind, son," the father said, "we will have a canao. I will sell a piece of our land. It will be a big feast. We will say our prayers. A grand feast we will have."

Then all was ready for the canao. In the first evening they prayed and hoped for blessings to come. They dressed a chicken in the morning, but before this was done a man came to see the first drop of blood that spurted out of the neck and the vile of the chicken. "The boy will get well, and the family will recover all their losses in this canao." the old man said.

Then they brought out their ganzas and they sang and danced with joy.

The next morning two men were sent to look for a narra tree, and another man was sent to look for Latod, a famous and patient carpenter. Latod was asked to carve a statue of their chief god, Cabunian, as was suggested by the old man who was their adviser.

The feast continued and before long they saw the boy was becoming strong and healthy. At the end of the feast, the statue of Cabunian was finished. At the last day and before the people departed for their homes, the old man said, "This is your god; take good care of it; it will protect you from danger."

This was the beginning of woodcarvings, now considered an art.


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