Skip to main content

Philippines: BARLIG

Module 1: Valuing Our Roots (DRAFT) developed by Elena Clariza for the UH Filipino Literature and Language Program




The Ub-Ufok Ad Fiallig: Tales of Enchantment from Barlig, Mountain Province, Philippines Module Development Project is an innovative and artistic online curriculum for instructors of Filipino Language and Literature, Philippine Folklore and indigenous people of the Philippines. Its aim is to teach students to reflect on their personal histories and cultural identities while learning the stories of Barlig. The first half will take students into the world of the Ifiallig in the Mountains of the Cordilleras. The second half will introduce students to the universal themes of the stories of Barlig and discuss these in a broader cultural and historical context through animated videos in Tagalog.


1. Learning about our culture and the role of orature or storytelling in different Philippine ethnic groups increase our understanding of ourselves and our integral relationship with our communities. 

2. Learning about our personal histories and culture is empowering as it helps us overcomee our own stereotypes about ourselves through understanding the depth of our culture and history. 

3. Learning about our culture helps us build a sense of cultural pride. 

4. Learning about our culture guides us towards a deeper understanding of our ancestral roots. 

5. Learning about our culture teaches us to appreciate the diversity of the Philippine culture.   


Keywords: Barlig, ancestral home, concept of home, roots, ancestors


The idea of home is very important in ones well-being. In fact, Jose Rizal, Philippines' national hero, once said, "Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa kanilang pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa kanilang paroroonan." This Filipino proverb translates into "One who does not look back at where he or she came from will not reach his or her destination" This quote emphasizes the importance of "home" to one's success in life. Rizal believes that we should know where we came from or our "home" in order to attain our goals. Do you agree with Rizal? How do you define home? This lesson will encourage students to think about their home by comparing it to Barlig. 

Barlig is a remote town in Mountain Province, Northern Philippines. The written word did not reach the Ifiallig (the people of Barlig) until the early 20th century. Hence, for thousands of years the traditions of the people in the region were handed down orally through generations. Barlig consists of three villages: Barlig Central, Kadaclan and Lias. Before Barlig town was established in 1965 through legislation, the three villages functioned independently of each other and each of the villages considered themselves distinct, separate entities.


1. Students locate Barlig on the world map. 

2. Students locate their hometown on the world map. 

3. Students locate their parents' hometown on the world map or Philippine map. 

4. Discuss how far they are from Barlig. 

5. Students read about Barlig and watch videos of Barlig on Youtube. 

6. Students compare and contrast their hometown to Barlig. 

7. Students discuss Jose Rizal's quote about home. 

8. Ask students why home is important. 


Have students draw a picture of their home and share with each other. The drawings can be a literal meaning of a "home" or a metaphorical "home" for those who are uncomfortable sharing about their home life.  

LESSON 2: STORYTELLING: Stories and Life lessons from home

Every culture values storytelling as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values. It is the telling of events in words and different sounds or images. Storytellers' make these narratives come alive through lively improvisations and embellishments. The Filipino culture is no different from cultures with a rich oral history tradition. For instance, the written word did not reach the Ifiallig (the people of Barlig) until the early 20th century. Hence, for thousands of years the traditions of the people in the region were handed down orally through generations.

Did you grow up with your own stories told by your elders? What were the stories you learned from home? 


  • Students gain knowledge about their cultural traditions. 
  • Students share stories from home and cultural traditions with each other. 
  • Students learn the value of cultural traditions by bringing their culture into the classroom. 
  • The culture of minority students such as Filipinos are rarely represented in schools. Often, this leads to a sense of invisibility and may result in low self-esteem and feelings of shame. In this lesson, "Home" traditions are made visible and given importance in order to empower students. 


1. Students read about storytelling in the Ifiallig culture. Alternately, the instructor discusses storytelling in the Iffialig culture while emphasizing keywords in italics. 

Long ago, the Ifiallig would sit around the fires of the ator (village council-house) to listen to tales of their hero-ancestors like Linmipaw and Amfusnun. When work in the payyiw (ricefields) is done, venerable elders and storytellers (umu-ufok) recount these stories in their own language they call Finallig. These stories (ub-ufok), handed down for many generations, serve as a record of their history, genealogy and cultural traditions.

There used to be a time when Barligís society revolved around the conversations and agreements forged within the walls of the ator. The ator was the seat of government and center of culture. The umu-ufok made sure that a fire was constantly burning, for one vital function of the ator was to provide the source of fire for village households. Today, however, the penetration of external religions, the public school education, the political system imposed by the national government, the introduction of electricity and new technology steadily erode the Ifiallig way of life. More importantly, the passing away of influential village elders, the umu-ufok, with no one to take over their role, will inevitably extinguish Barligís orature, and along with this will vanish the beautiful stories that have given honor and value to the life of a people.

In an effort to preserve Barlig oral folklore, Pia Arboleda, Professor at the University of Hawaii, conducted a retrieval and translation project of Ifiallig tales in 2001. With the invaluable assistance of Abigail Matib and Jef Cawaon Cablog, the stories were recorded in the original Finallig language in its natural setting from the mouths of the umu-ufok themselves. Venerable storytellers such as Pedro Padyangan, Arfonso Nacleo, Jerzon Ayongchi and Mateo Fiangaan narrated these ancient tales of enchantment. The stories were transcribed, translated and re-narrated into Filipino and English. In recounting the tales, the original structure of the narrative was preserved. From the first village, Barlig Central, 12 stories have been retrieved, 8 of which have been published as storybooks, Siblaw Taraw: Tales of Enchantment from Fiallig (2008) and Siblaw Taraw: Mga Hiwaga ng Fiallig (2008). In keeping with the times, Pia Arboleda and Jorge Andrada turned these stories into digital comic books narrated in Filipino with English subtitles. The stories came alive with powerful illustrations by Wrachelle Calderon Cablog, an artist from Baguio City. These digital comic books are the basis for the teaching modules designed here.

2. Discuss the meaning of storytelling with students.  Did you grow up with your own stories told by your elders? What were the stories you learned from home? Why are these stories important.

3. Students read Tilag and watch the story on Tilag



Tilag is a mysterious woman who suddenly appeared to a young hunter at the end of a rainbow. Beguiled by her beauty, the young hunter couldn't help buy ask her hand in marriage. Surprisingly, she immediately consented. It was not long after when they had children of their own. However, mysterious things began to happen. 

TILAG: Tagalog Version


hango sa salaysay ni Jerson Ayongchi

Para sa mga sinaunang Ifiallig, mahiwaga ang tilag (bahaghari) dahil hindi nila ito naiintindihan. Isa sa kanilang mga paniniwala na ang pagpapakita ng tilag ay tanda na mayroong mamamatay.

Noong unang panahon sa Makaranna, isang lugar sa Fiallig, may isang binatang mangangaso. Isang araw, pumunta siya sa gubat upang mangaso. Dahil umaambon noon bagama't maliwanag ang sikat ng araw, nakakita siya ng isang tilag. Napakaganda ng tilag na nakita niya. Iba't ibang kulay. Nais niyang matuklasan ang hiwaga ng tilag.

Nagpasiya ang binatang sundan ang tilag at hanapin ang pinagmumulan nito. Ngunit kahit malayo na ang kanyang nalalakad, hindi pa rin niya matunton ang pinagmulan. Tumigil ang ambon at naglaho na rin ang tilag. Sa ibang araw na lamang niya itutuloy ang paghahanap. Umuwi siya at nag-ichiw upang humingi ng payo, at maganda naman ang naging pangitain. Nagluto siya at kumain habang pinagmamasdan ang koleksyon niya ng mga bungo ng hayop na kanyang napangaso.

Dumating muli ang panahon ng pagpunta niya sa gubat. Sa kabutihang palad, muli na namang umambon at nagpakita ang tilag. Agad niyang hinanap ang pinagmumulan nito hanggang makarating siya sa isang sapa. Nagulat siya nang makakita siya ng isang dalagang nanghuhuli ng talangka at palaka.

"Ano ang ginagawa mo?" tanong niya sa babae.

Lumingon ang babae sa kanya. "Nanghuhuli ako ng talangkang kakainin ko," sagot ng dalaga.

"Ano ang pangalan mo?" tanong ng binata.

"Tilag ang pangalan ko."

"Gusto mo bang umuwi tayo sa bahay ko para lutuin natin ang mga talangkang nahuli mo?" paanyaya ng binata. Sumang-ayon ang dalaga.

Nang makarating sila sa bahay ng binata, tinanong ng binata si Tilag kung papayag itong maging mag-asawa sila. Hindi agad sumagot si Tilag. Saglit siyang nag-isip at sinabing, "Bakit hindi, wala rin naman akong inuuwian."

Simula noon, namuhay sila bilang mag-asawa. Makalipas ang ilang taon, nagkaroon sila ng mga anak.Sa paglipas ng panahon, napansin ng lalaki na tuwing umuuwi siya mula sa pangangaso sa gubat, unti-unting nababawasan ang naipon niyang mga panga at bungo ng hayop. Hindi niya maisip kung bakit nangyayad ito. Napagpasiyahan niyang manmanan kung sino ang kumukuha ng mga ito.

Isang araw, nagpanggap ang lalaki na maghapon siyang magtatrabaho sa payyiw. Nagdala pa siya ng baon at nagtungo sa payyiw. Nguni't sa tanghali, dahan-dahan siyang bumalik sa kanyang bahay. Pakubli-kubli pa niyang minanmanan ang mangyayari. Laking pagkagimbal niya nang makita ang asawang ngumangasab ng panga. Hindi siya maniwala sa kanyang nakita.

Lumabas siya sa pagkakatago at nagpakita sa asawa. "Tilag, mayroon namang karne a? Bakit yung mga panga pa ang inuulam mo? Ikaw pala ang umuubos sa mga inipon kong panga at bungo."

Hindi makapagsalita si Tilag. Maya-maya'y sinabi na lamang ni Tilag, "Nahihiya ako. Maghiwalay na lang tayo."

"Huwag naman," sabi ng lalaki. "Ipinagbabawal ko lang naman na kainin mo itong mga panga. Kung bakit iyan pa kasi ang kinakain mo, nandito naman ang mga karneng napangaso ko."

"Nguni't nakakahiya, pag-uusap-usapan ito dito sa atin. Hindi na ako maaaring manatili dito," sabi ni Tilag. "Nandito naman ang mga anak natin, sila na lang ang pagtuunan mo ng pansin. Aalis na lamang ako." Kinabukasan, lumisan si Tilag at hindi na nagbalik.

Kahit wala na si Tilag, dumami ang kanilang lahi dahil nakapag-asawa't nagkaanak ang mga anak nila sa paglipas ng panahon. Sa katunayan, ayon sa matatanda, ang mga apo ni Tilag gaya nina Fongngor ay nabubuhay pa hanggang ngayon.


derived from the narrative of Jerzon Ayongchi

For the Ifiallig of old, the tilag (rainbow) was mysterious for they little understood it. It was believed that a tilag revealing itself augurs death.

Long, long ago, in Makarana, a place in Fiallig, there lived a young hunter. One day he went to the forest to hunt. Although it was drizzling then, the sun was shining, and he saw a rainbow. The rainbow was so beautiful with its different colors that he wanted to uncover its mystery.

The young lad decided to follow the rainbow to its source. But though he walked many miles, he could not find its origin. The rain shower stopped and the rainbow faded. He headed home and consulted the ichiw, an oracle, for guidance. The ichiw gave a favorable omen. He cooked his food and while eating he admired his collection of animal skulls on the walls. The skulls were trophies from his hunting trips.

Then it was time again for him to go to the forest. By some dint of good fortune, it drizzled and the rainbow revealed itself once more. He quickly followed the rainbow’s path to its root and soon he reached a stream. There, he was surprised to find a woman busy catching crablets and frogs.

“What are you doing?” he asked the woman.

She turned to him and said, “Catching crablets for my dinner.”

“What is your name?” asked the lad.

“I am Tilag.”

“Would you like to come with me so we can cook the crablets that you have caught?” he asked. The woman consented.

Upon reaching his home, the young man asked Tilag if she would agree to become his spouse. Hesitant, Tilag kept silent for a moment. She thought a while and said, “Why not? I am bound to no one.”

From them on, they lived as husband and wife. After a few years, Tilag bore children. As time passed, the man noticed that each time he came home from the hunt, some of the animal skulls from his collection were missing. He could think of no reason why this was so. He decided to wait in stealth for whoever was stealing them.

One day, the man pretended that he would be working in the payyiw all afternoon. He even brought his provisions along with him as he headed out for the rice terraces. At noon, he slowly sneaked into his home, hid himself and lay in wait for what would happen. The sight of his wife voraciously gnawing at an animal’s jaw filled him with shock. He looked on, with mouth agape. He leaped out from where he lay hidden and confronted his wife. “Tilag, why do you eat those bones when we have meat? It was you all along who had been taking the skulls from my collection!”

Tilag, caught unaware, was speechless. Much later, all she could say was, “My heart is so full of shame. It is perhaps best that we part ways.”

“No,’’ said the man. “All I meant was to forbid you from eating the skulls. Oh, why did you have to eat those skulls when we have meat that I bring home from hunting.”

“This is too embarasssing. There will be talk. I can no longer stay here,” said Tilag. “Anyway, our children will remain here for you to shower with your affection. I feel I must go.”

She left the next day and never returned. The Tilag clan grew for her children begot more children. In fact, the elders say, Tilag’s descendants, like the man Fongnor, still live among them to this day.


1. Describe Tilag and her coutrship with the young hunter. 

2. Discuss the division of labor in the Mountain Province (Women farm while men hunt). 

3. Describe Tilag on a typical day. What does she do while her husband is out hunting? 

4. If you were to rewrite the ending of the story, how would you write it and explain why? 

5. What type of moral values do you think the story of Tilag is trying to impart? (Discuss the idea of shame, forgiveness, sense of community, love, parenting and preserving the honor of the family.) 

6. How do you think the story reflects our modern values? 

7. The Tilag Clan actually exists in Barlig. Possible homework: Look for the Tilag Clan online. Conduct research on the Tilag Clan. 

8. Do you have a similar story from your own cultural tradition. 





Module 2.Defining identity in Hawaii