KAMBABAS

(Maguindanao)
The Maguindanaons are traditionally superstitious. Once it was told that a powerful Sultan prohibited his people from taking a bath in the Rio Grande de Mindanao in order to uphold the morality of his clan. But his daughter “Bai Sa Sagay” disobeyed his order, and thus her father Sultan banished her to the mountain called “Mt. Kabalukan” and there she became a spirit called “tonong.” She resented her father’s extreme punishment and she expressed her anger by causing great pains on people who came to the forest of Mt. Kabalukan. Bai Sa Sagay or the tonong is so powerful that she can turn into a tree with rough and scratchy leaves called “sagay”. Anybody who comes in contact with its leaves suddenly develops red and itchy sores all over the body. At times, Bai Sa Sagay or the tonong would literally possess the body and torture the person. The only hope for the unfortunate man to be cured is the “Kambabas”, an intricate ritual of driving out the spirit, which is performed by the “patotonong” or the medicine man. It aims to cleanse the body from the tonong. During the Kambabas, a chicken is set free, a fire called “Tudtugan” is lit, coconut water, oil and thread of different colors are used. These are all means to appease the anger of Bai Sa Sagay. The kambabas can also be performed on the sea shore. The sick person sits on the lap of another while the patotonong performs the ritual. Different kinds of sweets and delicacies called “lalag” are held around a structure made of bamboo and grasses. After the ritual, the sick person is made to take a bath in the water. During the ritual, the patotonong and his companions move around in fluid movements while the ones representing the bad spirit move freely and roughly. The good spirits called the “Bidadari” move around in happy movements to show beauty instead of ugliness. After the ritual is held, the sick person regains his health, the evil spirits of the tonong are defeated and run away.

The patotonong and his companions perform the kambabas near the river. there are also good ones and they also abound everywhere and come to the aid of those who are in need. . The bad spirits spread and now. It aims to cleanse the body from the tonong. an intricate ritual of driving out the spirits. With the help of the good spirits called the Bidadari. the community gathers for a ritual in invoking the gods and goddesses of bounty to be generous and to provide for a very good harvest. After a dark and desolate situation. coconut water. During the Kambabas. a fire called “Tudtugan” is lit. a thanksgiving ritual which ends in a festival of merriment. But his daughter “Bai Sa Sagay” disobeyed his order. the patotonong successfully drives out the evil spirits and the villagers regain their health. rejoicing and jubilation. they engulf the whole community. which is performed by the “patotonong” or the medicine man. grasses and thread of different colors are used. they proceed to harvest with joy and optimism. is intricately interwoven into the tapestry of the Maguindanaon traditional community life. oil. Secure in the belief that the supernatural powers are pleased in their invocation. Different kinds of sweets and delicacies called “lalag” are offered. such as in good and evil spirits. She took a bath in the river. for as the legend has it.KAMBABAS (Maguindanao) Belief in unseen powers. The only hope for the unfortunate villagers to be cured is the “Kambabas”.” She resented her father’s extreme punishment and her wrath gave birth into a multitude of bad spirits. The people became possessed and tortured. Enraged. These are all means to appease the anger of Bai Sa Sagay. the people in gratitude and exuberance proceed with the Kanduli. a chicken is set free. If there are evil spirits. Before a harvest. her father Sultan banished her to the mountain and there she transformed into a spirit called “tonong. there once was a powerful Sultan who prohibited his people from taking a bath in the Rio Grande de Mindanao in order to uphold the morality of his clan for it was believed that whoever takes a bath in the river would be possessed by an evil spirit as the river was cursed. But the bad spirits are lurking near.

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