Pangapog: Thanksgiving for a Bountiful Harvest

Nonfiction by , , | November 9, 2008

The Pangapog festival is celebrated by the Samas of Samal Island located in Davao Gulf to thank the spirits of their ancestors for a bountiful harvest. A ritual is performed and then a feast follows it. This feast is celebrated annually, around the month of August.

The Pangapog festival that we witnessed began with a huge preparation both for the ritual and for the feast. After the materials for the ritual were arranged around an altar called the bunga, the balyan, the datus, and other selected members of the Sama tribe gathered around the bunga.

The balyan, Teresita Lugam, started by praying to the spirits. She spoke in the Sama tongue and lighted the palina. The Sama musicians started playing their instruments, the drum and the gongs. The balyan also began to chant. After a while, the other datus started to talk to the balyan who at that time appeared to be already possessed.

The balyan kept on talking to the datus and the other Samas. The spirit who possessed the body of the balyan asked questions while the datus answered. Sometimes it was the datus who asked questions to the balyan.

After a long exchange, the musical instruments played again and then the balyan began dancing, her hands swaying the tasseled palm fronds. She danced around the datus and the other Samas who gathered around the bunga. She appeared to be dancing with random steps in some sort of hopping moves.

She paused for a minute to drop the fronds and to grab a live chicken from one of the assistants. She resumed her dancing, with the chicken in her hand. She went around the entire area and made the chicken touch the people’s bodies to get rid of the bad elements from the people. Then she lowered the chicken on the floor and dragged it for a few feet. And then she threw away the chicken and it fell to the ground where it remained motionless.

After the dance with the chicken, the balyan was really exhausted. Then she came back to reality.

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(From : Han, Mary Neil A, Jason E. Magat, and Vera Mae B. Murcia. “The functions of Sama myths and rituals.” Undergraduate Thesis, Ateneo de Davao University. 2006.)