Kalinga tribal war practice on the wane

An irresponsible tricycle driver gets his comeuppance and cleans up his momma juice on the pavement after being caught red-mouthed.  **Photo courtesy of Dagupan Barangay Council

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Two prominent members of the  Kalinga community whose sub-tribes incidentally went to war against each other in the early 2000s believe that  it is only a matter of time before  tribal wars, the scourge of life in Kalinga, will become a thing of the past.
Both  Municipal Trial Court in Cities Judge Victor Dalanao of the Lubo  sub-tribe and Rev. Luis Aoas of the Basao sub-tribe  find it hard to believe that  recent  violent incidents  which  would have automatically sparked  tribal vendetta in the past are now subjected to amicable settlement.
Dalanao commented  it used to be unthinkable for the so-called “royal blood”  or warlike Kalingas to allow an incident where blood has been spilled to go unavenged but in recent times, even intentional crimes like homicide have been  subjected to conciliation proceedings.
Dalanao attributes much of the change  to education, Christianity and practical considerations of  contemporary life.
“You cannot count the cost such as  the employees who must go on leave and the students who  are prevented from going to school. We have to be practical.  It is no longer like 10 years ago,” Dalanao said.
Aoas agrees that practicality has something to do with the  hesitation of  tribes to embroil themselves in armed conflict  saying that in the case of his tribesmates, they would not want to jeopardize their employment  and other economic pursuits  by allowing the hotheads among them to make decisions when the sub-tribe is faced with a conflict.
Aoas added that  the awareness that  tribal wars have stunted the educational progress of the sub-tribe  was also a factor in recent tribal decisions.
Aoas also said that with the sub-tribes now  dispersed in different places  outside their ancestral villages, members have to think of the safety of their relatives in other places who may be easily picked up by the enemy sub-tribes’ warriors  in case of a full blown war.
Aoas admits that in a tribal war,  those sent out to hunt  do not  go for the culprits but target isolated members of the enemy sub-tribe who may not even know of the existence and causes of the conflict.
“The dispersal of the members of the sub-tribes has also weakened the  Kalinga ‘sin of one, sin of all’ mentality which used to justify hitting any member of the other sub-tribe during a war regardless of personal participation in the act being avenged,” Aoas said.
Aoas said that population growth which have forced tribes to look outside the ancestral village for food and better life  have also diverted the attention of members to economic pursuits in their new locations away from the old obsession to maintain the honor of the sub-tribe in the community of Kalinga sub-tribes by  inflicting more harm whenever provoked.
“The motive of improving one’s life has weakened the ‘sin of one, sin of all’ culture which used to unite sub-tribes whenever one of their own is aggrieved. This is very important because in cases where vendetta does happen, it no longer involves the whole tribe but just families or clans,”  Aoas said.
He said that the development explains the newfound restraint among sub-tribes which prevented open warfare from exploding in Kalinga for more than a decade now despite the occurrence of violent events which could have surely sparked vendetta killings in times past adding there were skirmishes but they no longer qualify as  open warfare.
He mentioned several heinous crimes  worst of which was the double-murder of  brothers belonging to the Lubo sub-tribe  by members of the Tulgao sub-tribe where in an unprecedented decision in as far as the  Lubos  are concerned, negotiations  for a settlement were underway.
Considered as among the fiercest and most formidable sub-tribes in Kalinga, Lubo and Tulgao have a  history of tribal conflicts the last of which took place three decades ago.
Dalanao could  no longer recall the number of victims but that on the part of the Lubos, most of the fatalities of the seven-year war  were professionals.
One of the  last  tribal wars   pitted the sub-tribes of Lubo and Basao to which   Dalanao and Aoas belong, respectively. The  conflict which began in  October  2003 and ended in January  2005  claimed the lives of  five persons including two members of other ethnic groups who were killed by Basao avengers due to mistaken identity.
The brief armed conflict was triggered by a mashing incident wherein a Lubo man who came to the rescue of the victims was  accidentally shot in the scuffle which ensued.
Dalanao foresees that in another 10 years,  the practice may be gone  as more  Kalingas will bring their conflicts to the law and  the conciliation proceedings of the bodong and other customary laws and  other instruments like the LGU peace arms are expected to become more effective.
Dalanao alleged that in areas where the bodong, the traditional peace pact and customary law of  Kalingas and some sub-tribes in Mtn. Province and Abra, is practiced to the letter, court dockets are empty.
Dalanao and  Aoas agree that emergence of many peace advocate groups all of whom are ready to get into action the moment an untoward incident takes place is  key in the nipping of tribal wars in the bud.
“One big improvement is the prioritization by  LGUs  of peace and order concerns which increased the number of neutral groups to help work out peace whenever there are incidents.   The intervention of these neutral groups brings into play the  ba-in (sense of shame) and the respect factor  making it easier to negotiate a peaceful solution,” Aoas said.**By Estanislao Albano, Jr.

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