¡· 1997 Holding INA's Hand¡Xconsists of songs and dances of the Amis tribe
In the Amis language, tabalong means literally a large area with a long history, or places that abounds in white crabs, an auspicious sign of rich natural resources. But a less known meaning is a place blessed with the sunlight of a mother's love.¡¨ The Amis of Tabalong village still glorify a mother's love, comparing it to the warmth and brightness of the sun. In the village there are also Saksakay (birthplace of their tribe) and kocohi (stele of ancestral remains): which manifests the old culture and long history of the tribe.
According to Amis legends, creator Masera produced generation after generation of descendants over thousands of years, until a brother and a sister among the offspring got married and were blessed by Malataw , a god in heaven, to have their own children. The couple and their children, surnamed cidal (the sun), became the first Tabalongs. The long stories of the Tabalong echo the historical evolution of mankind.
Through its singing, the troupe recites how the ancient Tabalong ancestors struggled against Nature. Our field study of women's songs has discovered two women groups of the tribe singing mothers' songs, the lyrics of which are full of awe and respect for the ancestors, gratitude for one's blessings, and care for and advice to young people. That is, they are full of profound messages passed down the generations in beautiful melodies.
Troupe members were instantly impressed by the essential and vital role of women in the maintenaincel of the Puyuma tribe. This inspired us to develop and produce Songs of Mothers in three segments: Legacy, Family, and Advice. The singing is incorporated with the narration by the dancer Adaw¡EPalaf , a Tabalong aborigine, of his upbringing in the village and his search for his root.
The singing and narration is a new form to portray the power of a mother's love in the matrilineal Amis society; it is a beacon to their youngsters who have ventured to the bigger world. The stove fire in Song of Our Origin , meanwhile, is a symbol of Tabalong family, the center of a house, around which we live, meet and chat. A stove fire is also the origin of life for the Tabalong tribe.
The Tabalong New Year Rite, called ilisin , includes visits to families of the same age group who have lost their beloved ones in the past year. The visits, known as miholol , are an unique ritual to console the mourning families and accept them back into tribal activities¡Xa clear manifestation of Tabalong Amis' sincere respect for the deceased. The songs of miholol describe the weeping tribesmen as wailing deer, or eagles whose nests or fledglings have been burned. Their sorrowful and desolate cries symbolise the grief of losing a fellow tribesman and the helplessness of the widow.
The Tabalongs lay great stress on the authority of and respect for the hierarchical order. Youngsters must heed the admonition from their seniors and accept their punishment; no allowance or disobedience will be tolerated. When young people seek pa'arodo , or advice, from the highest seniors on rituals, songs and dances, hunting and fighting skills, etc., they are often given rigorous training that borders on torture and abuse. Regular training by kakaholol , who are the permanent advisers next in the hierarchy, is also very strict. This hierarchy of ages of Tabalong village is a very unique characteristic among the aboriginal tribes.
The Lovers' Night is an occasion for Amis young women to express, with modesty and demureness, their regard for their lovers.
Of the rituals for blessings, palimo is the most distinctive. Mothers lead their daughters to the middle of the praying ground, and offer the millet wine they have brewed to the men, one by one starting from the chief. This wine offered by women is a prayer for health and fortune for the tribe; it is also a gesture of gratitude for the hard work of the men in the past year to ensure their provisions and happiness. The palimo , with a cup of wine to show one's gratitude and appreciation, is a ritual found only in Tabalong and not in any other Amis communities.