Iyagawa’s kasilapet last Sept. 30
Lapet (interchangeably referred to as linnapet by coutsiders) is a sweetened sticky rice bread, usually with grounded peanuts in the middle. This might be more familiar to tourists as it is being sold in the nearby tourist town of Sagada. One time, a colleague related a story where an old man in Sagada told those who were selling the sticky bread not to call it linnapet or lapet and instead use other terms for it. Then he said, “linnapet is only for the Iyagawa” (loosely referring to residents of “Agawa,” a group of barangays in northern Besao, Mtn. Prov. and those who trace their roots there). After I heard the story, I thought that there must be a significant reason behind the statement and connected it to the concept that “food is an expression of culture” – every food emerged and shaped out of a particular culture.
Lapet is a unique indigenous food cooked and exchanged only during the Kasilapet every September 30 in the barangays of Lacmaan, Agawa, Gueday, Amabagiw and Tamboan all of Besao, Mountain Province. The Linnapet is a unique celebration there when the sun rises atop Ambaonbato, a huge rock on top of Mt. Langsayan located in the eastern side of Agawa. As the sunrises, a laser- like light hits a big stone in Dap-ay Awaw of Gueday. This phenomenon signals the start of the planting season, thus the soaking of seeds for planting by the people of the said five barangays. A dap-ay (called ator in the eastern parts of Mtn. Prov.) is a male sleeping dorm and where elders periodically gather to decide on communal concerns which was common in the province. Dap-ay Awaw is considered the mother dap-ay of all the dap-ays in the five barangays.
The Linnapet starts with a traditional ritual by the elders in the dap-ay. After which starts the panag-do-dowwa, or the exchanging of linapet. One should give linapet first to one’s closest relatives, especially in-laws, parents, grandparents, and siblings as an act of respect and honor. Non-participation and non-reciprocation is considered a disrespect, as if one had forsaken his/her immediate family members.
Giving and reciprocating the linapet is an act of acceptance and harmony that bridges gaps between relatives and community members. It is also a time to discuss matters on how to improve their unity by helping one another. In modern times, this tradition has become a unifying and binding factor for the Iyagawa not only in their native town but wherever they are.
After September 30, some of the Iyagawa even travel to other places within and outside the town to give their dowwa to relatives. Their relatives in distant places may give cash or in kind as a reciprocation. This practice also reminds the Iyagawa of their unique cultural identity.
While many outsiders studied the art and skill of cooking sticky bread the linnapet way, it should be remembered that these were borrowed from the community of Agawa. The lapet is easily reproduced for commercial and other social purposes but, hopefully, the essence of linnapet as a food-ritual for harmonious relationships may remind everyone who are eating it to strive for such. **Roland Ngalob