One evident feature in most inaugural ceremonies at Foundation University is the traditional “Palihi” or offering that traces its roots back to the pre-Hispanic era, anchored in the belief of the Filipino ancestors in the spirits, in the worship of nature led by the Babaylan – the tribal religious leader and healer of the community.
The symbolic ritual calls on the spirits of the gods to bless a new beginning and a new endeavor.
Tracking back to Buglasan Festival’s inception in May 1980 within the premises of Foundation University, Siation town’s “Palihi” was chosen among those who performed the ritual due to its characteristic which fits the theme of thanksgiving. At present, the same ritual is performed by the Buglas Sayaw Dance Troupe of Foundation University and during the opening rites of Buglasan Festival of Festival.
Originally, the offering are placed in a bamboo “papag” or table namely: “kamanyang” (burning resin); chicken with white feathers cooked without salt; “tuba” (fermented coconut wine); “tableya”/“tsokolate” (native hot chocolate made of cacao fruit); “puso” (rice wrapped in coconut leaves) or tobacco made from “lumboy” leaves and the “sag-ob” filled with water (a two meter long bamboo contained used for fetching water).
The smoke from the “kamanyang,” produced from trees, is purposed at driving away the evil spirits while the native “tuba,” the very essence of tropical palms, stimulates the gatherings of friendship and merrymaking among local folks.
Also included in the “Palihi” is the native chicken with white feathers, cooked without salt as it symbolizes the purity of intentions and comes as an invitation to the spirits of earth and air to partake of the offerings during an occasion. The native hot chocolate (tsokolate) made from cacao fruit is offered as well to represent the bitter essence of our labors rendered sweet by endeavors and its sticky nature depict the bond among the locals.
The offering of “puso” (cooked inside the heart‐shaped weave of coconut fronds) stands for the staple food of the provincial life is coupled with the “tinustos,” tobacco rolled in “duhat” leaves, invokes the spirit of companionship and leisure.
Lastly, the bamboo sag-ob, used to fetch and store drinking water from a distant spring or river, symbolizes the hard‐won gains of daily living. The breaking of the “sag-ob” is meant to divine, by the burst and flow of water, the harmony of intentions and unity will govern the proceedings that are about to follow.
Over the years, the “Palihi” ritual remains as the lasting connection between the Province of Negros Oriental’s Buglasan Festival of Festivals and Foundation University, the institution that gave birth to the festivity celebrated every October.
The rite, though animist in nature, conveys the gesture of honoring the source of gifts and blessings and comes as an expression of a strong and resilient faith in the Supreme Being. This faith has transcended up to the present times as it continues to unite every Oriental Negrense, in thanksgiving and in celebration of God’s bounty through the Buglasan Festival of Festivals.
The Palihi at FU by Jacqueline Veloso-Antonio, MetroPost, Stopover, Sept. 28 to October 4, 2003
Script for the Palihi Ritual, Foundation University, Buglas Sayaw Dance Troupe
Published last October 2017