Baguio City. Its six o’clock in the morning, I go straight to the window… opened it, took a long deep breathe and let the misty cool air run through my nostrils… then I exhaled. In an instant it rejuvenates this sleepy tired body from yesterday activities. I glance the surrounding, my eyes captured a distant picturesque view of a pine forest sleeping under the blanket of a thin layer of white fog…AWSOME! Truly, how wonderful your handwriting is, my Lord. Amen.
I closed the window, headed to take a twenty minutes hot shower. Elevator – pressed the G button. Rush to the cafeteria for a cup of aromatic dark-brewed Benguet coffee.
Now, we are ready for a whole day learning process.
Deadpan. Bul’ol – rice god of highland people greeted us. Ifugaos are deity worshipper people; they expressed their beliefs in the numerous rites and prayers. Believe it or not they have as many as 1,500 deities in various ranks – gods to demons, monster to imps. They have various rituals to invoke their deities’ favor and to dispel the malady or misfortune. Sacrificial animals are common and meant to ‘bribe’ the gods. (the Mumbaki – ifugao priest study the carcass for omen to know if their prayers are answered).
This observation reminds me of my childhood ambition – to be a famous Anthropologist but most of all the Church teaching:
Indigenous religion – the Mythical gods
Man created his god
By focusing on Human behavior during a period where knowledge was not fully developed, wherein answers to every problem are not on the tip of a finger, Man has to rely on his illusionary / imaginative section of his brain. He creates Myth or story.
For instance, in an early stage man cannot explain the nature of SUN, why I cannot stare to it directly? Why this thing is so hot? Because he cannot find any answer that could address to all his ‘Why’, this SUN which has unexplained qualities became so mysterious to him and deep enough to be more powerful, this mysterious powerful now became a Being, then he called this Being as his god! [an instinct to respect that there is something greater than themselves] and since this god is powerful, he has to please him. Now the ritual begins, he has to offer something to gain the favor of his sun god. He has to do everything because this god is sacred - beyond his human capacity.
Same way with the rice god; the Ifugaos like all their Malay ancestry, rice is staple food, they cannot consider meal a meal without rice - they cannot live without rice. By associating rice to life, this rice became powerful that could strike-down someone’s life without it… this powerful again became being and they call this being Bul’ol or the rice god.
Myths attempt to explain the origins of things, but this explanation does not survive rational questioning.
With the explanation of science these gods became rare and in the blink of extinction.
In the end, it allows me to contemplate the pristine teaching of our Church; The Catechism of the Catholic Church succinctly explains the Human longing for his Creator – his desire for God.
I. THE DESIRE FOR GOD
27 The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:
The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.1
28 In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being:
From one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him - though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For "in him we live and move and have our being."2