History and Culture

In the Cordillera, A Play About Man's Best Four Legged Friend


Choose Philippines
Choose Philippines | Oct 17, 2019

Story by Nathaline Daniel
Photos from the Cordillera Green Network

Dogs are man’s best friend, but not if it is a dark-colored dog – that is according to the Cordilleran folklore, Fugtong. The tale centers around a black dog named Fugtong which was owned by a family in Balbalan, Kalinga. The community, however, believed that dark-colored dogs brought bad luck. The family was demanded to choose between leaving or killing the dog so they can stay in the village. The family chose to leave, settling near the place where Tangob, a mountain ogre that eats children and pregnant women, lived.

[related: Unusual Igorot Rituals For All Souls Day!]

One day, the couple had to leave the children to tend to their farm. The kids were instructed to lock all the doors and windows. As night fell, Tangob came, forcing its way inside the house, threatening to eat the children. Fugtong came and attacked Tangob. When the parents arrived early in the morning, they saw Fugtong sleeping beside Tangob’s decapitated head, they panicked for their children’s safety but saw them peacefully sleeping. The children told them that Fugtong protected them. This incident led to the community’s acceptance of Fugtong.

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This piece of folklore has been passed by elders to Kalinga’s younger generation. Jocelyn Banasan, a native of Pasil Balbalan, Kalinga believes that folklores are important to hone today’s beliefs. “It is important because they are the source of wisdom,” states Jocelyn, “Pag hindi ka nakinig sa folklores, wala kang values, kulang yung cultural values, kasi ito ang originators ng experiences, a story of experiences.” (It is important because they are the source of wisdom, if you don’t listen to folklores you wouldn’t gain values, there will be a lack of cultural values because these are originators of experiences, a story of experiences)

[related: The 'Payao' of Cordillera: Visiting the 2,000 Year-old Beauty]

The story of Fugtong is now being imparted by a group of Cordilleran actors on theater stages in different parts of Cordillera, Manila, and Japan through Anak Di Kabiligan, directed by Angelo Aurelio. “That story is very important because it breaks stereotype na parang regardless of your color, face or what, you are still a beautiful creation of God Kabiligan (That story is very important because it breaks the stereotype that regardless of your color, face or what, you are still a beautiful creation of God),” relates Angelo, adding that he continues to train younger actors that would tell the story of Fugtong for future generations.

ALSO READ: Bedtime Stories? Consider These Igorot Supernatural Creatures

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