Deboxah (pronounced Debuca in Ibaloi) is Princess Urduja in Pangasinan's legend. Some believed that the name "Urduja" was only ascribed to her by Ibn Battuta who chronicled his encounter with the queen of Tawalisi (modern-day Pangasinan). Aside from his record, the Ibalois' oral history also speaks of this 14th-century female ruler.
Dr. Morr Tadeo Pungayan, a respected scholar of Ibaloi culture and professor at the St. Louis University of Baguio City, said, "Linguistically, Urduja is Deboxah (pronounced Debuca) in Ibaloi. We've always had a woman named Deboxah from time immemorial among the generations of Ibaloi. The name usually describes a woman of strong quality and character who's nobly descended. That name is an Ibaloi name. That's why Ibalois trace their ancestry from Urduja".
The Cordillera tribes, also known collectively as Igorots, pride themselves as being the only ethnic group that doesn't talk about the origin of man according to Spanish chronicles. Among the tribes, genealogy and family history are orally passed history. The Ibalois, just like other highland tribes, could easily trace their ancestry. This is ensured by their custom of naming newborns after ancestors to help keep their memory alive and evoke affection and protection.
"No Ibaloi will bear the name of an ancestor unless she's related," Dr. Pungayan explained.
"While the Bontoc tribe bestows the name of an ancestor to a grandchild, the Ibaloi style is namesaking the great-grandchild," he added.
A book on the history of Benguet province, written by Anavic Bagamasbad and Zenaida Hamada-Pawid, shows the Benguet genealogy tracing tribal family lines from the year 1380 to 1899. The book says, "The extent of inter-settlement alliances is climaxed in the memory of Tublay informants with the reign of Deboxah, (Princess Urduja, in Pinga). She's acknowledged as the granddaughter of Udayan, an outstanding warrior of Darew. Her death signaled the continuous decline of kinship and alliance between highland and lowland settlements."
The Darew mountain range is remembered as the earliest settlement in the mining town of Tublay. The close relations between the Cordilleras and Lingayen are well-accounted for in Batuta's chronicle. It said that the Kingdom of Tawalisi was very extensive, including the vast areas up to the fringes of the Benguet mountains and the Cordillera ranges in the east of Luzon.
By Chit Balmaceda Guiterrez
Filipinas Magazine, June l999
Photo by suchimi14, Deviant Art
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