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Why AFI?

(Condensed from “Why Afi” written by George B. Andal and Rosario P. Yap)

Research on cultural heritage and history of Tuguegarao City shares glimpses of how the Ibanag

people and culture wove a tapestry of influence on the lives and on the celebration of life to every

Tuguegaraoeῇo. Fire or afi has not only played a pivotal role in their rituals and traditions but also in

their local folklores and unique unoni.

Afi figures prominently in rituals among the Ibanags. Majority, if not all, rituals use fire. This is

manifested in healing rituals with terms like mappassup, maunawa, mawiwi, maddalagan, mattandu,

mabbendosa, mamaruha and manirung. Added to these are customs observed by elders in the olden

times. A suitor would plead “iyubbom ngana y nawag” to the lady. When the “nawag or afi” was given,

it figuratively meant that the lady had finally accepted or at the least, given the suitor a chance at the

courtship. Other activities unique to the Ibanag such as manilag: durun, asimmawa, manango, or tuka

cannot be done without afi.

As people of Tuguegarao, one cannot deny the significant role of fire in his life. The Catholics

cannot do away with fire- the Sacraments and Sacramentals all use fire, lighted candles, during these

rituals. Even prayer for the deceased hints at the use of fire when they pray “ tape lumawan ta zibbo.”

There is a need for light to guide the poor soul out of the darkness. It reiterates the strong belief of the

Ibanag that light is sacred for it preceded the creation of man.

History, local culture and even the arts of the Ibanag have one common ground - the afi.

Looking at the other side of the coin, afi is like the ember of hope that pushes every Tuguegaraoeῇo to

rise with resilience from every disaster that strikes him. It is that burning fire that makes the land

progress from a municipality to a premiere city with numerous malls, business outsourcings, landmark

learning institutions, regional centers and quality health care services.

Although fire could be all these, it must be noted that whoever is given the stewardship of the

fire must bear in mind that he holds a huge responsibility and accountability. One must realize that fire

can be double sided. On one hand, it makes men maggarenu (draw near for warmth.) However, men

must be memugud (cautious of the fire). Otherwise, it can be destructive (makalussian, makatuggi).

So why Afi? Tuguegarao City proclaims: “Nu egga y afi, egga y nawag. Nu egga y nawag, egga y

funsyon. Nu egga y funsyon, egga y pagayaya!”

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