Most parts of Mountain Province used to have Dap-ay and Ebgan (Olog). Every ubon (sitio) of a village has its own Dap-ay and Ebgan. Some of the physical structures built by Igorot ancestors are still present today but only a few still remain functional.
The Dap-ay served as sleeping quarters for male adolescents and elders while the Ebgan was for female adolescents and elders. The quarters are divided into two sections: the outer open structure and the enclosed sleeping area. The outer part had seats made from rocks forming a circle and a fire pit at the center. The sleeping area is a small house made of wood.
As soon as an Igorot boy is old enough to sleep with his parents, he will start to sleep at the Dap-ay. Teenage boys who still sleep in their homes were usually subject to teasing by their peers.
The Dap-ay and Ebgan also functioned as a center for learning and socialization. Older villagers passed on life skills, stories, and values to the young villagers.
During the day, the Dap-ay served as an institution for community affairs. The villagers went to the Dap-ay to settle disputes and discuss village plans. The elders of the village served as the community leaders.
It was also the headquarters of the village warriors whenever they had conflicts with other villages. It is where they stored their weapons and supplies.
Courtship happened in the Ebgan. Young boys from the Dap-ay will visit young girls in the Ebgan. Courtship comprised of acts of service like doing massage. But no men were allowed to sleep with the young women. If a man slept with a woman, he is required to marry her.
Elders lament that the loss of the Dap-ay and Ebgan culture has contributed to the rise of teenage pregnancy within the Cordillera. According to them, the restraint made by the elders through their presence and teaching of values are important in avoiding teenage pregnancies and other social problems.
About the author: This article (revised) was shared exclusively by our friend Donnabeth Tolano-Aniban with the Igorotage team. Donnabeth is a licensed Filipino nurse and a former teacher. She now works as an academic writer and also writes on Medium. Her work has been featured in Her View From Home and When In Manila. You can get her book "50 Ideas For A Great Life" on Shopee.