BAUKO, Mountain Province – The municipality celebrated its 16th Begnas Festival with the theme, “Gameng ya Kataguan ay Inpey-as Kabunyan, Men-iya-iyamanan (We give back the gratitude to Kabunyan for good health and wellbeing)” without any crowd drawing activities on March 10-12, 2022.
“Begnas is a long-standing tradition ever since I was young which is both a celebration and thanksgiving for the many blessings brought and will be brought to us by Kabunyan,” said Barangay Captain of Abatan Jimmy Cajigan in Kankanaey.
Cajigan added that the begnas ritual done in the earlier years were performed only in some barangays of Bauko. In the celebration, the elders of the community perform the thanksgiving ritual in its original and indigenous form.
Begnas di Bauko, as a municipal-wide activity, is a thanksgiving festival done together by all the 22 barangays of Bauko as gratitude to Kabunyan for the bountiful harvests.
“When it was adopted as a municipal festival, the integration with other mainstream practices were conducted. However, it still carry the same exact purpose of thanksgiving,” explained Cajigan.
The town’s fiesta usually has a lot of activities as it is considered the grandest festival in the municipality. But due to the ongoing restrictions brought by Covid19, the staging of this year’s Begnas were minimized in a hybrid platform.
Accordingly, Bauko celebrated the 16th Begnas virtually and did not have any crowd-drawing activities in compliance with the IATF guidelines.
Bauko Municipal Mayor Abraham B. Akilit said in his official message that “there would be no parading and playing of gongs on the streets like we used to or cultural presentations and trade fairs to enjoy, but we remain to be thankful to Kabunyan.”
He added: “The meaning of the theme is a reminder for the people of Bauko to be grateful for the provisions of livelihood, resources, and all the blessings of Kabunyan”.
This year’s celebration programs include the performance of the begnas ritual, on-the-spot poster making contest, audio-visual presentation contest, farmer’s forum, and Begnas Fun Run 2022.
As a highlight, six practices of the begnas ritual were performed by the 22 Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representatives (IPMR) representing the 22 barangays of Bauko.
The practices include the Dap-ay or Pih-ik where an elder beats a wooden shield to gather the people in the at-atowan; Labeg where the elders shout in succession on the way to the Dap-ay; Daw-es which is the cleansing ritual to give thanks to Kabunyan; Pakde serves as the closing ritual where the elders butcher animals as offering concluded by a baliwat wishful prayer or words of appreciation being shouted.
This is done yearly on the 2nd week of March before the harvest season to pray for bounty harvest while giving thanks to Kabunyan.
Rex-Lee Cabradilla, a youth leader, said: “This year’s celebration is definitely not as exciting as our past celebrations, but I am still glad that they were able to conduct the ritual as this is the heart of the celebration.”
Like Cabradilla, many of the local community appreciated this year’s celebration of the Begnas di Bauko despite having the programs online.
Many are still hopeful, that the theme, “Gameng ya Kataguan ay Inpey-as Kabunyan, Men iya-iyaman,” will serve as an anchor for Bauko people to get through the pandemic with the help of Kabunyan.
By Charlie Clint Malicdan