Pachie's Point


July 6, 2008
“Sadanga Fegnash: A Way to Unity and Peace”
 
I was immersed with my artwork for the incoming Sadanga town fiesta when a good friend tried to correct my seemingly misspelled Fegnash. She was insistent of Fvegnash. But I felt comfortable with the word without the letter “v” on it. She might be right but I can also claim I am right for the simple reason that cultural names are not spelled in the mode we spell them today. The manner we pronounce it spells it. Similarly, when we talk about indigenous music we cannot impose on notations because our music is designed pentatonic. There is no such thing as musical score for ethnic music. But for the purpose of transmitting, we tried to come up with notations. Thus for the sake of technicality and legality the Fvegnash was taken to refer to the municipal feast. But with or without the letter “v” on it does not change the essence of the feast. From this juncture let me revolve on the meaning of the festivity.
Fegnash is a celebration of the Sadanga people that denotes thanksgiving whether one comes from the Riverside of Sadanga (Betwagan, Anabel and Saclit), from the Upland of Sadanga (Belwang, Bekigan and Sacasacan) and the Center of Sadanga (Poblacion and Demang). We can never call it a celebration without the beating of gongs and without slaughtering of animals not for ritual’s sake but to feed the assembled people. Usually Fegnash is celebrated in the Ator after planting or after harvest time.
It is undeniable that we are in touch with our respective cultures. But it is also a reality that we are in the contemporary complex culture I may call the “techno ethno” way of life. We cannot deny the fact that other ways of life crept and still creeping in our customs and traditions. Simply we have to admit that our culture must be relevant in today’s world. Relevance to mean, it is not set aside in this modern world i.e. that everything in the culture is bad or pagan as some over zealous missionaries of the past claim it. Second, our culture must find meaning in this new way of life for this generation to imbibe and continue to hand it on.
I personally commend the effort of the past administration for incorporating the Fegnash in the municipal festivity and for coining the name. But equally I commend the present administration for continuing and innovating it i.e. making its relevance today. Relevance to mean, preserving the culture at the same time finding links in this millennium way of life and way of thinking. If people cannot see the significance of it, it will eventually be disregarded whether we like it or not.
The incorporation of the cultural festivity in thelocal government as an official celebration of the town must be taken with much care as not to deviate its goal over pure entertainment and showcasing of adulterated indigenous songs and dances. Since it is integrated in the municipal feast it should not only insinuate the cultural gratefulness of the people but will bring the people to an aperture of addressing a common advocacy. If I am not mistaken each Sadanga heart is longing for real peace. That means, Fegnash should fulfill that social longing. If it does, Fegnash will lasts in this sophisticated world. It will have its far-reaching consequences not only to the old but also to the younger generation who will become the society in the future.
I was quite disturbed when I heard a remark, “Fegnash is an activity to attract tourist and in time strengthen the tourism stuff.” This is not Fegnash if that is the case. It is without doubt that Sadanga is blessed with beautiful panoramas and rich culture. This entails a promotion to protect it from abuses and regression and not primarily for tourism’s sake.    The Fegnash should never be dissociated from its original essence. It should be devoid from the dangers of commercialism otherwise it is no longer a cultural festivity. This is the temptation, when it fails to address its pure meaning of thanksgiving and its relevance in this millennium over the tourism thing of entertainment and fund raising. I am more comfortable to hear that the motivation behind the festivity is to help preserve the good aspects of our culture.
The customs and traditions of some villages are dying because the old folks reserved it for themselves. They did not foresee the future. They did not realize that they will perish and their children will in due course take their place. It makes me sad that many cordilleran youth don’t even know how to beat the gong. It is a good thing that public leaders realized it. Such traditions are being carried today in the communities where people young or old alike are encouraged to dance the tradition, to sing the old way, to beat the gong or simply to be a part of the festivity and not merely spectators. By these, the Fegnash essence will live and will foster a better understanding of the culture in the face of a very complex society.
 Fegnash should not draw people into an idea that it is a festivity of competition otherwise they will prepare not for the culture’s sake but to outdo the other communities. It is not good. Or to give a delegate an impression that Fegnash is a time to brag one’s dress, one’s gong or one’s dance and chants.
Equally important, the festivity should lead the villagers into unity as well as their desire to real peace. This is a good place to advocate peace and progress. Fegnash must bring into the open that its very purpose is to bring reconciliation and peace to all the Sadanga people. I happen to celebrate the Holy Mass in Saclit before the Fegnash in Sadanga. I overheard from Barangay Captain Alex Chorping that his people started to prepare for the activity but later on are backing out. In my homily I tried to inspire them not to give up amidst the unsettled conflict existing between them. “Remember you are not there to compete but to be present. Your presence may mean you are willing to advocate peace. Your presence may mean you have trust to the local government. Sadanga municipality means not only Poblacion and Demang. It means Saclit, Belwang, Bekigan, Sacasacan, Betwagan, Anabel, Demang and Poblcacion. “ I am elated when I saw them participate in the festivity.
Moreover, the creation of the “Ninth Barangay” is a good innovation of this Fegnash. The Sadanga people who migrated to other places and now are successful. They carried their identity as Isadanga and continue rerooting their success in their native land Sadanga. Their recognition made them feel their belongingness, importance and their role i.e. an inspiration for the younger generation as Vice Mayor Francis Dangiwan put it. That even away from their native land they still are welcome and they still belong. Fr. Joseph Requino who presided the Holy Mass, Fr. Vicente Bongabong whose presence made the old folk happy and myself had in common the Diaspora in the Old Testament, to mean those Isadanga in other places doing great and uplifting the identity of Sadanga.
 I also valued the citation of people who were exemplary in their lives as one of the highlights of the festivity. It was not because I was one of them that I say this but because it is in itself an innovation worth commending. This can motivate people to do their best. It can serve as an encouragement to the municipality itself. It will encourage people towards prosperity. Truly Fegnash is a place of thanksgiving. But it becomes more if it will continue to address the pressing issues of the Sadanga people.
Fegnash will truly mean Fegnash if it will become a means to forgiveness, peace and prosperity. We can never speak of progress without talking about peace. But we can never talk about peace without talking about reconciliation rooted in justice. Now it make sense when we altogether sing, “Rise up O people of Sadanga, rise up with pride we lift our voices, Hail O hail Sadanga, Long live our Sadanga.” (For Comments text me at 09197850528 or email me at marc_songs@yahoo.com)




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