At the compound of Teng-Ab Retreat house are several areas that would allow individuals to pray in solitude or a group to have their sharing/dialogue.
Noticeable however, is the abundance of stone chairs in a circle or semi-circle formation. We call it “DAP-AY“ or “ator“. Such structure is not just an ordinary bench because it plays an important role in understanding the culture of honest interaction among the Igorots. It is present in every community as it symbolizes the village ward system with its associated ceremonial and social institutions. Dap-Ay is a permanent fixture, a durable witness to “person to person” dialogue among the Igorots who consider community life as integral to their existence…
Dap-ay is the usual venue for community gatherings, be it informal or ceremonial. But most importantly, it is the place where where peace pact (pechen/peden) between warring tribes is being arranged or settled. From the study of Michael Brett in 1987, “Pechen“ is defined as “ a ritualized oral contract between two villages with the purpose of establishing peaceful relations… a contract held in safekeeping by a particular ator of each village“.
The paranga/palanga, a ritual myth, explains the origin of the pechen as a teaching of Kabunyan or Lumawig to resolve a long-drawn battle between Ejar and Kedyam. Like other ritual myths, the paranga recounts the trouble between two villages, the intervention of supernatural being who provide solutions to the problem and institutionalize ritual to insure fortunate and prevent misfortune befalling those who observe the same. The same ritual when observed assures peaceful relationship between people and villages.
Life in the STONE
The inland scenery of Teng-Ab Retreat House demonstrates or gives highlight to one significant element in the mountain-life of Igorots : STONE.
There is the impressive rip-rapping that dominates the landscape design of the compound. Conveniently connecting the four big buildings in the complex, which is characterized by a sloppy terrain, are several stone structures and pathways.
The stone walls, which was constructed through meticulous filing of rocks, demonstrates the un-schooled skill which the surviving Igorots learned from their forefathers. It is an indigenous stone engineering method that made their terraced agriculture durable and resilient. The stone symbolizes the enduring spirit of the early Igorots. Together with their unique irrigation system, their craft in rip-raping introduced us to their nondestructive practices in dealing with the elements of mountain life…
Building the “FA-NING”
“…The result is that every plat is upheld on its lower side, and usually on one or both ends, by a terrace wall. Much of the mountain land is well supplied with bowlders and there is an endless water-worn supply in the beds of all streams. All terrace walls are built of these undressed stones piled together without cement or earth. These walls are called “fa-nĭng′.” They are from 1 to 20 and 30 feet high and from a foot to 18 inches wide at the top. The upper surface of the top layer of stones is quite flat and becomes the path among the sementeras. The toiler ascends and descends among the terraces on stone steps made by single rocks projecting from the outside of the wall at regular intervals and at an angle easy of ascent and descent.
These stone walls are usually weeded perfectly clean at least once each year, generally at the time the sementera is prepared for transplanting. This work falls to the women, who commonly perform it entirely nude. At times a scanty front-and-back apron of leaves is worn tucked under the girdle.
In the Banawi district, south of the Bontoc area, there are terrace walls certainly 75 feet in height, though many of these are not stoned, since the earth is of such a nature that it does not readily crumble…”
(excerpt from the ethnographic study of the early Bontoc Igorots in 1905 by Albert Ernest Jenks)