Module 7. Kiangsa: Soul Music
“A long long time ago, in Sachanga, which lies below Masigi, there was an anito (spirit) who played the Kiangsa (gong) in the forest during the nights of the full moon. The sound that came out of his kiangsa was melancholy for it was like a wail that echoed throughout the land. This anito struck a chord of fear among the Isachanga. None of them had the courage to seek out the source of the sound until one day…….” from Siblaw Taraw: Tales of Enchantment from Fiallig by Ayongchi, Fiangan, Nacleo, Padiangan, 2008.
This story was derived from the narrative by Jerzon Ayongchi.
Music is intimate and can touch the soul as it reveals the inner and complex feelings of the musician. It conveys messages and emotions that are otherwise difficult with words. Across cultures, songs allow people to express themselves and each melody communicates their feelings. It also brings comfort to listeners when they can relate to it.
Kiangsa – gong
Ichiw – fortune telling, divination
Anito – Spirit
Sappo – the name of their place
Essapo – the people of Sappo
1. Students read and watch Kiangsa.
1. What did you think of the story?
2. Have students read the following paragraph and comment on why the Anito played sad and melancholy music with his kiangsa. What kind of message was he trying to convey? Do you think his music caused the deaths in the village? In contrast, do you think his music only foretells and warns the death of the villagers? Who do you think is the anito? Is he good or bad?
Songs allow people to express themselves and each melody communicates their feelings. It also conveys messages and emotions that are otherwise difficult with words. Hence, music is intimate and can touch the soul as it reveals the inner and complex feelings of the musician.
3. Why do you think the Ifiallig warrior came to Sachanga and stole the kiangsa from the anito?
4. Why do you think the kiangsa continued to play its beautiful music for the Ifiallig people?
5. Is it possible that the kiangsa has a soul and a mind of its own? What kind of messages was it trying to communicate?
6. Do you think it was strange that for years the kiangsa’s music did not cause death in the Ifiallig village? However, was the kiangsa a bad omen that brought the Spanish attack in Fiallig?
7. Explain the phrase: Hindi ninyo malulupig ang mga Ifiallig dahil mabaho ang kanilang ihi. (You cannot defeat the Ifiallig because their urine wreak.) What do you think is its significance.
8. Why did the kiangsa stop playing after it was captured by the Essapo?
9. Discuss this historical account of the battle from Albert Jenks’ The Bontoc Igorot.
The Spanish comandantes in charge of the province seem to have remained only about two years each. Saldero was the last one. Early in the eighties of the nineteenth century the comandante took his command to Barlig, a day east of Bontoc, to punish that town because it had killed people in Tulubin and Samoki. Barlig all but exterminated the command—only three men escaped to tell the tale. Mandicota, a Spanish officer, went from Manila with a battalion of 1,000 soldiers to erase Barlig from the map; he was also accompanied from Bontoc by 800 warriors from that vicinity. The Barlig people fled to the mountains, losing only seven men, whose heads the Bontoc Igorot cut off and brought home.
Albert Ernest Jenks. The Bontoc lgorot (Manila: Bureau of Public Printing, 1905), 75.
* In combining the myth of the anito with a magical kiangsa and the historical account of the Spanish attacks on Barlig, this story illustrates the interweaving of magical elements and historical facts.
Critical Thinking: Spanish Occupation
What might be the changes that the Spanish occupation brought to Fiallig?
The Spanish occupation of the Philippines began in March 17, 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, working under the Spanish monarchy, reached the Philippines while searching for the Spice Island. He was killed in battle by Lapu Lapu, Chief of the island of Mactan, in April 1521. According to Teodoro Agoncillo, he died as a consequence of interfering in the dispute between between Lapulapu and Zula, chieftains of Mactan (Agoncillo, 1990, pg.72). Several Spanish expeditions eventually arrived in the Philippines after Magellan’s. Despite continued resistance by the native people, a majority of the Philippines especially the lowlands, succumbed to the Spanish control. In 1898, a concerted effort by Filipino revolutionaries defeated the Spanish Colonial government.
Christianity in the Philippines
The Philippines is among the largest Christian countries in the world with over 80 percent of its citizens are practicing Christians. Most belong to the Roman Catholic church, whose evolution in the Philippines, is intricately tied to Philippine history and nationalism. Catholicism was used as a colonizing tool during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines in the late 1600’s. It continued to proliferate even after the Philippines gained its independence in 1946 from the United States. While many Filipino revolutionaries adopted the principles of Christianity in their resistance against succeeding colonial governments, the Catholic church to this day, remains a powerful force in Philippine politics as well as in the Filipinos’ daily lives.
In light of the Spanish occupation of the Philippines (1521-1898), divide the class in two. One group will compose a song that expressed how the Filipinos might have felt when they lost their country. Another group will compose a song of celebration when Filipinos regained their independence.