Friday, August 24, 2007

Amlah (Planting)

When samkyab and tubong appear in the sky, it heralds the start of the planting season. Samkyab and tubong are stars only the Blaan farmers could identify. The farmer and his wife then build a "bot tne" (platform) at the center of the elnigo. Bot tne has four posts, about a meter high where all the seeds are placed before planting, surrounded by four sugarcane stands, four rows of camote tops, and bagacay or salban (wild bamboo). On the bagacay pole, the farmer and his wife place slices of ginger, layers of ashes, green chili, slices of kisol (turmeric) and charcoal in threes. The ritual of tne symbolizes the farmer's desire to have a good cropping season free from infestation and bad omens.

Before sunrise, seeds are brought to the bot tne along with food. Then amlah begins with the farmer and his wife initiating lamgi where men and women and the young people join a synchronized chorus of chants in increasing tempo as men dig holes with ahak (sharpened pole) and women fill them with bne (palay seeds). The cadence of lamgi ranges from a slow chant (lamgi tana), to moderately upbeat (lamgi Blaan) and to the very fascinating chanting (lamgi mayeng).

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