KASIBU, Nueva Vizcaya—Garbed in their native attire, Bugkalots from all over the province flocked in Barangay Poblacion in this town to join other indigenous people in their recent celebration of the annual ‘Pugungan’ Festival.
Excitement was etched in the faces of young Bugkalots as they performed their native dances and songs including their hunting practices and their skills in playing indigenous musical instruments.
This year’s ‘Pugungan’ or gathering was conceived to promote and showcase the rich culture and traditions of the Bugkalot tribe in Nueva Vizcaya.
“Our festival was intended to showcase and promote the Bugkalot culture and tradition in recognition of their being the first settlers of our municipality,” said Mayor Alberto ‘Chito’ Bumolo Jr.
He said the Bugkalots have long been laid their ancestral domain claim in the vast forest and mountains of Nueva Vizcaya, especially in upland towns.
Holding the ‘Pugungan’ Festival, Bumolo said it will help promote and foster camaraderie and friendship between the Bugkalots and other tribes of their municipality where ifugaos compose its major population.
“This positive relationship between the tribe will result into a peaceful coexistence which is an important component of development and progress,” the mayor said.
“Thirty years ago, the Bugkalot tribe are the dominant tribe in barangays Talbec, Sanguit and New Gumiad in Dupax del Sur, several barangays in Dupax del Norte and six barangays of Alfonso Castañeda,” said Rep. Carlos Padilla.
The yearly holding of tribal festival’s such as the ‘Pugungan’ in Kasibu town and ‘Ammungan’ of the province are helping much in the collaborative effort to preserve and promote the Bugkalot culture and tradition.
Also known as Ilongots or Ibilaos, the Bugkalots were the known and feared headhunting tribe in Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Aurora provinces before the Spanish era.
Their transformation into Christianity came with the teachings of missionaries from the New Tribes Mission, backed by local officials in the said provinces.
Bungkalots’ head hunting practice finally came to a halt in the 1980s as most of the tribe have embraced the Christian belief.
At present, few Bugkalots are now scattered in the upland towns of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Aurora provinces.
“They are versatile tribe. Those who have lived in Aurora province knows how to speak Tagalog, those in Nueva Vizcaya adopted Ilocano while others have adopted the Isinai dialect,” Padilla said.