Friday, August 1, 2008

The Gentle Ibanag

The Ibanag is most often perceived as lazy. Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Bicolanos, Cebuanos, even the Chinoys say tamad ang Ibanag.

The Ibanag is not harried, not choleric, generally laid back. There is no urgency in speech and manner. Generally, the Ibanag is calm. Very gentle, as gentle as his/her valley home.

The big Cagayan Valley is protected on the east by the mighty Sierra Madre mountains, on the west by the ponderous Cordilleras and on the south by the Caraballo mountains. It is one, huge sheltered home, with the Gran Rio de Cagayan meandering and nourishing all the fields and settlements from its head waters in Nueva Vizcaya all the way down to the South China Sea in Aparri, Cagayan. The towering mountains shield the valley from typhoons that kill and destroy and trap precipitation, keeping the valley humid. Conversely, in summer the mountains keep the heat trapped with only the northern opening allowing the release of the hot air to the South China Sea. This explains the hottest temperature that Tuguegarao City registers. It also explains the coldest mornings and evenings next to Baguio City. The valley's soil is fertile, so fertile that the vegetable washing that you splash in the backyard will reward you with vegetable seedlings that sprout overnight unaided. In a few weeks, you have tomatoes, okra, squash, string beans, bell pepper, and whatever seed you happen to include. There is enough forage for fowl and animals. Thus, the Ibanag knows that nature is kind, that God provides and protects. There is no need to rush and grab.

In contrast, the Ilocos is a strip that is hemmed in by the Cordilleras on the east and by the sea on the west. The Ilocanos then need to use every tiny piece of land to plant kamote, malunggay and bananas. They have to wake up before the sun rises to work in the fields as the unforgiving sea makes it too hot and glaring to work in midday.

Like the lilies in the field dressed and cared for by the Father, the gentle Ibanag flourishes in the Cagayan Valley.

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