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Bontoc Elders perform "Manengtey" ritual as protection against COVID-19

Elders in Bontoc have performed a traditional ritual called "manengtey" to protect their community against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

 |  3 min read


Joei Padaen shared her experience as she witnessed a traditional ritual performed by the Bontoc Elders called "Manengtey".

What is Manengtey for?

Before the ritual, Joei asked one of the elders what the ritual was about and the elder simply replied:

"Ta iwalo tako isnan intutungcho, ta nan covid adi na apektaran nan ili tako ay Fontok."

The statement can be roughly translated to:

"We pray to the ONE above, that this covid (coronavirus disease 2019) will not affect our community, Bontoc."

Yes, the Igorots are folk-Christians, they still believe in a supreme deity they call Intutungcho (the one above), also referred to as the "Kabunian". Which also may pertain to the same god.

The Manengtey Ritual

Uncle Changat, one of the respected elders in Bontoc Ili and the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) of Bontoc said that they will perform the "Manengtey" ritual.

In this ritual, a native chicken is butchered and what's more interesting is that the elders examine the chicken's internal organs, to find out whether it carries good omen or not.

Butchering the chicken...
Butchering the chicken...

Accordingly, it turned out "ekheb" (assumingly, a sign of good omen).

This was then cooked with "inasin" (salted meat).

"Inasin" (salted meat), popularly known as "Etag"
"Inasin" (salted meat), popularly known as "Etag"

While the meat is being cooked, Uncle Changat gathered some twigs of a certain tree which he referred to as "tikem".

He then tied these twigs to the entrance of the Municipal building symbolizing "Tengaw" or a declaration that the entire community would be subject to a rest day. The rest day will be effective tomorrow.

He then went back to the "ato" and chant a lot of prayers together with some other elders, including the Mayor.

After the chicken meat was cooked, the men then gathered together at the "ato" and partook what has been cooked.

This ritual according to him was also performed in the Barangays of Samoki and Bontoc Ili earlier.


Yes, this means that the whole community is under a one day break.

During this time, the bones of animals would be placed under the fire at the "ato" where they performed the ritual to keep the fire burning in the belief that the fumes would prevent any disease that might enter the community. This is called "Paang".

On the same day, "Mangamang" is also observed where some men and women continue to guard all entrances and exit points in the community.

During this time of rest, no one is allowed to go out to tend ("mamuknag") to their farms or rice fields because it is believed to bring bad luck to the community.

Additional Notes

  • If a deceased person was brought back home to the community during this "tengaw" period, and when the cause of death is such as in an accident or homicide, or any unnatural cause of death, "ma-apilo" or the ritual must be performed again.
  • In other tribes in the Mountain Province that perform similar ritual. During the "tengaw", no one should make loud noises as this can lead to bad luck.

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