The fun and excitement never fade each time I attend the Tumba, a halloween tradition in the town of Paoay in Ilocos Norte. This is my fourth time to see it and my second time to judge the competition and I kept on discovering new things.
Tumba means catafalque. It is made of cogon, bamboo, coconut and banana leaves and other indigenous materials. It usually measures around 4x5x6 m. The people prepare an altar filled with a wide array of food plus antique images of saints, small and big alike, crucifixion, candles and flowers. The old folks clad in their pandiling and kimona with black or white veils recite prayers. They also render songs. Tumba is celebrated every first day of November in time for the All Saint’s Day.
The people from the community help put up the tumba. It used to be an individual barangay showcase but it was a long and tiring job to visit all the villages. So they came up with clusters of barangays or districts to minimize time and expenses. There were ten entries this year. We started past 7pm to go around. We have seen tumba that were dim lighted with only candles and torches. People in the community warmly greeted guests and they were led to the altar. Atang or food offering was shown to us. We were asked to pick whatever we like. The essence of tumba celebration is snatching the food you like from the table or it’s locally called mangararwa.
I had a great time tasting the food they prepare from each tumba. They had the umras consisted of native food delicacies such as suman, tupig, linapet, patopat, baduya, bicho-bicho and many others. Drinks composed of a bottle of softdrink, beer and basi, a local wine made of sugar cane are also offered. Not to forget the important offering, the betel nut, gawed leaves and the lime for mamaen.
I enjoyed eating the grilled fish such as the huge tilapia from Paoay Lake. They also had the mudfish, catfish and the porong. They displayed also roasted native chicken, a farm produce in each barangay. People from the coastal areas showcased seafoods such as big crabs, shrimps, shell fish. I even their exotic roach of the sea which is a family of shrimps.
Fruits adorn the table in the tumba such as bananas, papayas, guaples, pineapples, sugar cane and other fruits. When you look up, some pomelos were hanged for decoration and I was told that that was the main decoration in the old times. It was also decorated with abel cloth and crocheted fabrics including the altar.
We finished it after an hour and a half. We had difficulty of taking home the bunchful food they have given to us. Right after judging the village folk shared the offerings. With Mr. Raquel, Ms Majang, Mrs Carpio and Mr Galano, we concluded our trip to the tumbas at the municipyo. Districts 5, 8 and 2 came out as the winners in this year’s Tumba.
Frolicking did not stop at the tumba but went for a quick trip to the horror house set up at the creepy site of the convent ruins. There was a long queue of young people who want to be frigthened by scary characters inside. Screaming and shouting of young girls is what you can hear and there was even crying of a young boy. What a wonderful way to celebrate halloween.