The Past and Present Names of the Bontoc Day Festivals
by Florence Chaokas (Bontoc and Its Barangays)
The Bontoc Town Fiesta
Beginning from the post war years, the Bontoc people have been celebrating the Bonto Town Fiesta on May 22, to coincide with the Patron Saint of the town which is Sta. Rita Day, May 22. This was set by the Roman Catholic Church in Bontoc.Every year, the fiesta was colored by popularity contest to raise funds for worthwhile projects. Aside from popularity contests,sports and other activities were done as part of the celebration of the Town Fiesta. The affairs were managed by the church leaders of the Roman catholic Church in Bontoc together with the Municipal Officials. This was how the Bontoc people celebrated the Bontoc Town Festivals in the past up to the late 1990s.
The Bontoc Foundation Day
Sometimes in mid 1997, Vice Mayor Hubert T. Facullo Sr., on his own initiative went to Manila to make a research in the National Archives as to when Bontoc was made the Capital of the Old Mountain Province on September 16, 1908 as contained in the Official Gazette Vol. VI 38, pp. 1296-1299. On July 7, 1997, Ordinance No.35 s. 1997, sponsored by Vice Mayor Hubert T. Facullo Sr., was enacted by the Sangguniang Bayan and approved and signed by Mayor E. Yawan; thereby, changing the celebration of Bontoc Town Fiesta on the 3rd week of May (May 22) to September 16 of every year from then on. Beginning that year, the Municipal officials and employees took charge of the activities to celebrate the Bontoc Foundation Day on September 16. The activities held were popularity contests and sports contests. From this year on, the Bontoc festivals was called Bontoc Foundation Day.
The Bontoc Am-among
In 2005, The Municipal Officials thought of an appropriate indigenous term that could be adopted as the name of the celebration of the Bontoc Foundation Day and they came up with the word Am-among; hence the Bontoc Foundation Day was changed to Bontoc Am-among. This is in keeping with one of the indigenous practices of the Bontoc Ili and Samoki people called am-among (reunion by clan) which they do after the planting season of the 1st crop of rice called chinakhon. This am-among is not observed in other barangays of the Bontoc Municipality.
Whether the Sanguniang Bayan in 2005 passed a resolution adopting Bontoc Am-among as the name of the Bontoc Festivals with its barangays, or whether they wanted it to be unwritten, it is not clearly known because there is no resolution regarding the adoption of Bontoc Am-among for the name of Bontoc Festivals found in the files of the Office of the Sangguniang Bayan. What is found in the record files of the Office of the Sangguniang Bayan is the Resolution requesting President Gloria M. Arroyo to declare September 16, 2005 as a special holiday for the Bontoc people. Although it is now a common knowledge that the Bontoc Am-among was adopted and institutionalized, it would still be better if it is put into a Resolution or Ordinance so that there will be a written basis for the celebration of the Bontoc Am-among.
The activities that highlighted the festivals of the Bontoc Am-among were no longer the popularity contests, instead sports competitions that were scheduled some weeks before September 16, were held.Another highlight of the activities was the street dancing done around the town which were shown by the representatives from the different barangays. The street dances that were shown by the representatives of each barangay were usually some of the indigenous practices in their own barangays. One important part of the activities on September 16 which ends the Bontoc Am-among celebration is the lunch that is served by the Municipal employees to all representatives from each barangay and to the invited guests and visitors of the town.