Legends and traditions in the millennial world
SURVEY result says that millennials are taking over baby boomers as majority of the adult worldwide population for 2019 and most likely in the years to come. Just as social media is replacing old systems of interconnectivity with portable, handy and faster gadgets, even songs like the "Times They Are a-Changin" by Bob Dylan and Madonna’s “Material World” which was considered as among the anthems of change for the period 1960s to 1980s are rarely heard nowadays as the youngsters of today created new waves not only in the arts but also in profession, education and way of life.
For the past months, I have kept track of a millennial’s daily online post and just the other day, he completed a great task that has made an impact to humans around the world with his one minute daily videos. A teary eyed Arab popularly known as Nas Daily wrote in his social media feed, “This isn't goodbye, this is see you later and it's been an honor showing up on your feed every day” committing to be back with more videos. This guy has posted one minute daily videos he recorded from all over the world including Philippines for the past 1000 days and his meaningful travelogues has been seen and shared by Millions of netizens. This is a good example of what opinion makers refer to as out-of-the-box thinking or a breaking ground for a new tradition.
As I spent few days of rest and household chores mulling over the loss of my mother, I looked around for what to discard and I have collected a sack full unusable and decaying pieces of wood outside our backdoor which brings memories to our life in the barrio. There is a tradition called “atong” that I grew up with which I often practice whenever I go home to my mother’s place in Sudipen, La Union back in the 70s and early 80s. It may be seen as a primitive or pagan practice but we usually burn firewood and keep the embers glowing in the “dalikan” or dirty-kitchen stove especially at night with the belief that the devil is afraid of fire and that evil spirits spares us from any harm.
We have heard a lot of urban legends before and it seems that even the apparition of a white lady ghost along the Loakan Road is no longer heard or read about perhaps because these are overtaken by social media posts that went viral like Baguio’s anti-profanity law, Sagada’s carmageddon and scandals here and there.
As a cultural keeper particularly of the Bago tribe, I once heard of a legend popular among the locals of Northern Benguet and uplands of Ilocos Sur. Up in the highlands of Bakun, Benguet with an elevation of about 1,400.00m above sea level, there is a mountain called Mount Kabunyan and it is a favorite destination of mountain trekkers because of its scenic spots, enchanted caves and most especially the legend of Doligen.
If one follows a trail and cross the mountains of Sugpon and Alilem Ilocos Sur from Tagudin or Sudipen, La Union via Kayapa of Bakun just like the upland traders of the famed Igorot gold during the early trading with salt, porcelain jars and plates and bronze gongs with Chinese merchants, their journey might well be within the historical loop of the legend of Doligen.
Doligen, a hungry and tired mortal who must be a hunter walked by and rested in a cave somewhere between the highlands of Bakun (Benguet) and Alilem (Ilocos Sur). As he sat wearily with a deep breath, presto, food and water were offered before him served in sparkling golden spoon and porcelain plates. He accordingly finished his meal, burped and thanked whoever served him food but he also took and bagged the plates with him. The version of the story as told by my late father Marcelo Tibaldo has it that Doligen was later nowhere to be found and when some villagers happens to reach the cave and look up, they noticed a human-like formation plastered above and they believed that it must be Doligen which others refer to as Dukligen who was cursed by the unseen spirits called Temengaw or Tumengaw. The mystic food and water served by unseen hands at the cave were no longer heard about and the story goes that sparkling clear water that spurts and drips from what appears to be a penis is that of Doligen.
The story about Doligen was rarely heard even within the community itself. Learned tour guides in the area who must have read about natural formations of stalactites and stalagmites only point out to mountain trekkers that the Doligen cave has human rock formation and the penis looking object that used to spurt water for people to drink has long been dried up.
Today, water has long disappeared at the cave and travelers are advised to get drinking water at a spring at the foot of the hill or bring their own bottled water to drink. There is however a sign that reads “Remember, this mountain is guarded by Spirits" according to a post by a traveler who visited the site.