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The Center for Southeast Asian Studies > Projects > Ub-ufok Ad Fiallig Overview > Teaching Modules > Module 9. Kopkoppatti: Sympathetic Magic, Land Ownership and the Babaylan (Shaman)

Module 9. Kopkoppatti: Sympathetic Magic, Land Ownership and the Babaylan (Shaman)


This story is about an old man named Wawwus who encountered an old woman with magical powers.  Derived from the narrative of Arfonso Nacleo.

Tagalog Version | English Version


The Ifiallig believe that whoever clears and uses common land will own it. In Barlig, land has long been apportioned to different families. Elders have assigned land ownership for the payyiw and even the forests where they can get pinewood for their homes and furniture. But certain areas are considered ‘common land’ and anyone who has need of it may use it.47 Like the story Amfusnun, Kopkoppatti reflects this belief. In clearing the land, Wawwus should have had the right to its use. But since Kopkoppatti was the first to till the land, he had to yield its ownership to Kopkoppatti.


Fianiw – rice paddle

Fiakrong – ladle (sandok, Tag.)

Payyiw – rice terraces

Fiayas – rice wine

Fusi – jars



Puno – tree

Sibit – vine


  • Describe Wawwus. What can you say about his behavior?
  • What indigenous practices and beliefs regarding land ownership are reflected in the story?
  • Describe Kopkoppatti. What can you say about her?
  • What magical elements can be found in the story? How does this relate to other magical elements in stories like Kiangsa, Linmipaw and Maanam-am?
  • How do these objects keep their enchantment?
  • Discuss this chant/incantation. This is a magical incantation to help plants grow.
Boros, kaya-o-yaos
Ban-ong, kayak-o-yak-ong,
Kaiw, karak-i rak-iw,
Sibit, karawi-rawit,
Boros, lumusog-lusog,
Ban-ong, umusbong-usbong,
Puno, lumago-lago,
Sibit, pumilipilipit.
  • Show the photo of the patpattay, the divinatory and sacrificial site. In the old days, the Ifiallig use these sacred places to perform magical rituals. This particular site is still used today. (INSERT PHOTOS)
  •  Do you have similar incantations or chants in your culture? What is their significance? What are they used for? Who can perform these chants? How and where are they performed?
  • Compare the use of chants to the use of amulets or anting-anting. Do you have religious relics that serve a similar function? For example, did you know that Sakay wore an amulet that supposedly protected him from bullets? There are also amulets that you can get from the heart of a banana tree.
  • What lesson/s have you learned from the story?

Culminating Activity

Create your own chant and magic spell. To do this, collect objects that have personal significance to you. You could also bring symbols that represent the elements of fire, water, air and earth. Define your intention and create your chant. You can use your native language or a secret tongue to write your chant.

Optional exercise: Keep a journal entry about your chant. Observe the changes in your life and study the effect of your magic spell. Did it work?


Greed is a selfish and excessive desire for more of something, such as money, food, power, thaN is needed. In this lesson plan, students will discuss greedy characters in this story and drawing parallels to current events.


1. Students discuss the story. What did they think of Wawwus? How about Kopkoppatti? What did they find interesting about the story? Who do you think was Kopkopatti? Do you think she is a babaylan (Shaman)?

What is a Babaylan?

Most indigenous communities across the Philippines have at least one babaylan (visayan term for shaman) in their clan or community. They have many names such as baglan, djin, mananambal (healer) and babaylanes, among others. Her strength lies in healing, wisdom and performing sacred tasks such as planting, weaving, dancing, and chanting. Her greatest strength lies in her ability to mediate between people and spirits especially those who control nature.

Since nature is unconquerable, those who have the ability to concentrate this force are believed to possess great powers. According to Cacayan, the “shaman woman who was once considered superior, may be equal to her male counterpart in status, but she is special in that she renders her gift not only through healing, but also through hard work, child-rearing, creation, and peacekeeping.”

2. Students discuss what Greed means.

3. Have them analyze each character. Who are the greedy characters? How did each greedy character’s behavior affect the other characters?  Are there stories about greed in your culture? If so, please share with your classmates. How did Kopkoppatti teach Wawwus a lesson?

Greed in the Cordilleras

Have students read the following articles:

  1. Cordillera Peoples Alliance. “Indigenous Peoples Rights”
  2. Cordillera Peoples Alliance. “Mining”
  3. (UPDATE) Arroyo, Mining And Greed are Culprits of Landslides and Flooding by ABS-CBN Reporter Jenny Reyes.

Have them reflect on the following questions as they read the articles.

  1. What is the Cordillera Peoples Alliance? What is their stance on Indigenous Peoples Rights? How about on Mining?
  2. Where did the landslides and flooding take place? How far is it from Barlig?
  3. Why are people angry at the government?
  4. How does mining cause landslides and flooding? (Hint: The roots of trees keep the soil in place and prevent erosion during heavy rain. Trees are uprooted and the soil are dug out during mining as minerals are extracted from the earth).
  5. Students identity the greedy people in this news article.
  6. Students reflect and discuss the effects of mining on indigenous land.
  7. What should the government have done to protect the people? 


Students draw parallels to their culture. What are examples of greed that they have seen in their own communities? What are some of the ways they can do to confront this type of problem? What are the lessons they can learn from Kopkopatti’s story?