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The Negritos Of Visayan Commnunity

Before the coming of the Spaniards, the Negritos occupied the Visayan community.

According to the Maragtas Code, Panay was inhabited by Negritos, called Ati. They were black and kinky-haired. They lived a peaceful life, hunting wild animals and planting rice and camote in the hills.

With the coming of the Borneans, bloody clashes between the Negritos and the Maraynon (Borneans) took place. The Atis then were forced to settle in the highlands because Marikudo, the Ati chief, gave up and allowed the Maraynon to settle in the lowlands.

The Negritos stay near river banks. They live simply; to have fire, they rub two pieces of bamboo. Their bed is the soft ground and to keep themselves warm, a big log is kept burning.

The Negritos hint for food in the forest. The Younger Negritos fish in the streams and search around for fruits and vegetables.

A Negrito's only possession is his bow and arrow. He is content with a 20-centimeter wide belt hanging from his waist as his only clothing piece.

Negrito elders in the society are obeyed and respected. Their words are law.

Negritos perform many rituals and ceremonies. Before building a house, he performs a ceremony to appease the spirits living in the site. The owner slaughters, clean and cooks 9without salt) a small pig and there chickens as offerings. The cooked food and tuba are then taken to a table in the middle of the proposed site, to be decorated. The owner signals the babaylan (native priest) and his companions to perform the ceremony. Homemade guitar and an agong are then played as the babaylan shouts to the spirits in all around the table stamping his feet, calling all spirits from distant barrios.

The babaylan then chants for a third time, making sure that all spirits are presents. He fills a bamboo tube with tuba and spills some around. He proceeds to throw bits of food around the site to appease all spirits including the lame and crippled. The group present then partakes of the rest of the food. Only then will the construction of the house commence.

In case of sickness, the Negritos also perform a ceremony to make amends with aggrieved spirits for acts committed by the patients.

As thanksgiving, the Negritos traditionally celebrate Ati-Atihan. History recounts that the Atis went to the Maraynon of lowlands Panay soliciting food to prevent famine, The Maraynon who then had a good harvest, gave them their share. The Atis sang and danced to express their gratitude. The Maraynon, acknowledging the friendship, painted their faces with soot and danced with them. This started the Ati-Atihan. Can you relate how the Ati-Atihan is celebrated?

 

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