Rituals seek to appease souls of SAF commandos

/ 11:18 PM January 17, 2016

BAGUIO CITY—Julie Danao had been suffering from depression since the death of her son, PO2 Walner Danao, one of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos killed in the bloodbath in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, last year.

Edna Tabdi, mother of slain SAF member Senior Insp. Gednat Tabdi, has complained about unending nightmares.


Believing that their ailments were caused by the restless souls of the slain policemen, the Ibaloy community decided to send a mambunong (ritual priest) to Maguindanao to appease them, Vicky Macay, an Ibaloy elder, said here on Saturday.

Macay attended a gathering of about 100 family members and the widows of the 44 SAF commandos.


They commemorated the tragedy at Burnham Park here nine days ahead of Jan. 25, the day last year when 44 SAF men were killed during an operation to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan.”   

No one has moved on since that incident, said Danao. The memorial was staged on the same day her son would have celebrated his 35th birthday.

Losing her son left Danao listless, which led to medication.

“I lose moments of my day and the elders decided we needed to call my son’s spirit home from Maguindanao,” she said.

“For us Ibaloy, when sickness, death or other unfortunate events happen to the family of a dead individual and they constantly appear in visions and dreams, we are required to hold a ritual called ‘dawit’ to fetch the soul of the dead from where they were killed and to bring their souls home,” said Macay, one of the mambunong recognized by the Department of Education (DepEd) here.

Macay and a council of Ibaloy elders are scheduled to stage the ritual in Mamasapano on Jan. 24.

The mothers of Walner Danao and Gednat Tabdi are Ibaloy, but the ritual would also appease the spirits of other SAF members from the Cordillera who were killed in Mamasapano, Macay said.


Thirteen of the 44 slain policemen were from the Cordillera. Another slain policeman, a resident of Nueva Vizcaya province, has Ifugao roots, records show.

Once the Maguindanao ceremony is completed, the elders are required to perform another dawit at the DepEd compound in La Trinidad town in Benguet province, to complete the ritual. Jessica Tabilin and   Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Maguindanao, Mamasapano, Ritual, SAF, SAF 44, saf44, slain, Special Action Force
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