On the eve of July 26th, the BIBAK Northeast women donned their colorful gateng/tapis (skirts) and the men tightly worn their wanes (g-strings). The night was humid and the heat intensified as we gathered around the fire just as our ancestors did a long time ago. The men sounded the gongs to a synchronized steady beat, just like the heartbeat of every brave Igorot, and the beautiful women raised their hands, as if giving thanks to the heavens or imitating a free bird in flight. As the gongs got louder and the fire burned brightly, I was instantly transported to a different world. I was no longer in Virginia; I was home. This was the second time I've attended the BIBAK NE Grand Canao, and it was a grand opportunity to meet so many people. It was such a relief that I can call anyone auntie and uncle. Although my Kankanaey is rusty, Mom patiently translated the conversations and songs for me.
The celebration persisted through the night as different ethnic dances (Balangbang, Tadok, Banga etc.) and songs took the stage. There was a group who wore cowboy hats/boots and performed a country dance, and another group integrated a Broadway like show in their full gateng/tapis regalia. I'd actually prefer to watch more authentic Igorot dances rather than a country line dance. I see such dances all the time, and for me, seeing Igorot dances is such a rare and wonderful treat; that's just my opinion. As you can see, the photos are a bit dark because some performances took place on an open ground with just a campfire for lighting. It was tough to take photos without tripping on something. I tripped and laughed at myself a couple of times, but it was too dark for anyone to notice.
To those unfamiliar with the different colors that the tapis/gateng represent, each color combination woven through the tapis belong to a group or tribe. (For those who are more familiar with this topic, I do need your help about the color combinations.) Grand Canao 2008 was truly a festival of colors. That night, tribal identity or divisions no longer existed, as the different colors danced unified to one rhythm - the beating of the gongs.
PS: Aside from the usual Filipino dishes, there was a huge pot of Pinikpikan (if you want to know what a Pinikpikan is let me know) on the side. I got a full bowl and ate it with gusto. After finishing my plate, I wondered where was the Etag (cured meat or I prefer to call ham) because I couldn't find one in my bowl. The aunties and uncles laughed.