I climb the old Balatukan peak
Home-breath of the Higaonon
Warm welcome fills my cup of brewed kapi
Warmer still are the smiles of the children
And the tubao-topped timuays.
We sing melodies of the earth
Pluck the higalong, rap the dasang
Bare feet pounding the parched ground
To the deafening sound of drums and gongs.
Around the fire, the children curl up
Hear the sagas of painted baylans and alimaongs
Ancient tales of Apo Entampil
Forefather of the people of the living mountains
Mountains where forests are no more.
The clouds break at dawn
Lightning flashes, thunder roars
Rivers and gorges swell
And sweep down
The old Balatukan mountains.
Nelson D. Manigo is an associate professor of the Ateneo de Davao University. He got his bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of San Carlos and master’s degree from the Ignatian Institute of Religious Education (IIRE)-AdDU.