"Indigenous peoples are no strangers to diseases and disasters. Through generations, indigenous peoples have established particular responses grounded in traditional knowledge, customs and practices to different circumstances affecting their communities. These are all founded on one fundamental principle - to ensure that the whole community survives.
A common response across indigenous communities is closing off the community to all. No one is then allowed to enter or exit the community until such time as it is deemed safe. Such community closures are done for different reasons. In the Cordillera, Philippines, such practice is regularly observed during the agricultural cycle. Before or after the fields are ready for planting and harvesting, the community declares ubaya/tengaw, which basically means that everyone stays at home, and no hard labor is to be done by anyone. This is a time for the community and for the earth to rest. This usually lasts for a day or two.

In times of epidemics or other disasters, the ubaya/tengaw is also declared. Rituals to shut off the community from outsiders, including bad spirits, are performed by elders, all directed at expelling whatever bad is in the community. The ubaya/tengaw is not meant just to protect the community but also outsiders who might want to visit.

The sign that a community is on ubaya, it is placed at all the entrances of the communityThe signs that a community is in ubaya is very simple - a knotted piece of branch/leaf at the entrance of the community. Yet it is a very powerful deterrent."

Photos are from Tengaw 2020 by BIBAK BC Canada
view more here: www.bibakvancouver.com/events/tengaw
(permission was obtained from original owner prior to use)

PHOTO CREDITS: johnedel.photography/

TEXT SOURCE: www.iucn.org/.../kasiyanna-indigenous-community