Part Three of the Ayuweng Series to celebrate the International Decade of Indigenous Languages

by Estella Wanden and Genevieve Balance Kupang

On Celebrating the UN Decade of Indigenous Languages and Healing from the Virulent Covid-19 Virus

Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

Greetings of a meaningful Celebration of the UN Decade of Indigenous Languages. The Cherokee Nations and the Global Indigenous Languages Caucus sponsored the launching of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL 2022-2032) held in Tahlequah, Oklahoma last January 5-7, 2022. This was participated by many indigenous peoples worldwide (both in-person and virtual) including the translator here upon the invitation of Cultural Survival ( The goal of the IDIL is to draw worldwide attention to the critical situation of many indigenous languages and to mobilize stakeholders and resources for their preservation, revitalization, and promotion (

Incidentally, this January 15, 2022, Rappler Inc. reports that the Philippines shatters the daily record for covid-19 with 39, 004 new cases , producing the overall coronavirus cases to more than 3.1 million. The Department of Health reported a positivity rate of 47.3%, signifying that almost one in two persons tested positive. Of the total caseloads in the country, 265,509 or 8.5% are presently sick.

Amid the spike in covid-19 cases and new areas under alert level three in many parts of the country, people living on the mountainous terrain of Bagneng, Bauko, Mountain Province are grateful to Kabunian (God) for the current zero covid-19 case in their barangay. They are thankful, too, that no one died because of the virus. Thus, their chant, “Palalo nan iyaman, ken Apo ay Kabunian egay tako napadasan, laton ay kasiyana, maid natamaan…” As of January 15, 2022, the record shows that the people of Bagnen had forty-eight people who were tested positive but are fully recovered. Knowing their interconnectedness with the rest of humanity, here is an expression of solidarity with all those who had been infected, thus the offering of this indigenous chant for complete healing from covid-19.

The indigenous chant is also a plea to God that He gives the front liners the strength and power they need to carry out the demands of this global health crisis. It is also a prayer chant to seek the mercy of God to grant those who died “rest in peace.” Kahiyana na met, maiwed kaso tako hina. Kahiyana is an expression that signifies “All is well,”(things will get better for the rest), we do not have any covid-19 case here.

The following chant was recorded many months after the lockdown in the Philippines which is an offering of thanksgiving to Kabunian (God) and a plea for healing from the virulent Covid-19 virus. Here is the A—hey: An Indigenous Prayer Chant for thanksgiving to Kabunian and healing from the Virulent Covid-19 Virus composed by Estella Wanden and translated into English by Genevieve Balance Kupang.

Video credit: Paul Bill Mapangdol

Intako men-iyaman (…iyamaan)
ken Apo ay Kabunian
tay enna binantayan
danapay ina’aywa-aywanan
datako’y lilitagwan
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Ahoeeey!

Ahey, sapay koma ta ituloy na
Bendisyon ay dadama
Et nay ay kasiyana
baken met ten dadama
Covid ed Montañosa.
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

Ahey,datako ay ima-Udan
Palalo nan iyaman
ken Apo ay Kabunian
egay tako napadasan
Laton ay kasiyana
Maid natamaan
Covid ay kadadawelan
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

Ahey, ipugay ay menkapa
Dadama nan asog da
San natey ay litagwa
Maagtan da si inana
Rest in peace ya wayawaya.
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

Ahey, O Apo ay Namarsuwa
Mendawat kami koma
Bendisyonam da tona
Frontliners di menkapa
Maagtan da si pigsa
Ublada et piga piga
Gumawis nan batawa
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

Ahey, O, Apo ay Kabunian
Enka kad approbaran
am-in ay lilitagwan
covid et maagasan
amed kad ken dakami ay seniores ed wani
tay na-ay maiyadi han bumala hinan ili
Nay maiwed ik-kan mi
Ay mang-ila ed said-sadi.
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

English Translation:
Let us thank our dear,
Revered Creator
For safeguarding
and caring for us,
inhabitants of the world
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

Ahey, we wish that He continues
To bless us immensely
Thanks, that we are safe and well
The covid cases in Mountain Province
Is not that alarming
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

Ahey, those of us from this rainy place
Lavishly give thanks
our Revered God
we have not experienced
the virulent covid-19 has not infected us
(Laton ay Kasiyana-an expression of being well and safe)
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

Ahey, people who roam the earth
grieve deeply for those
who perished (due to the virus)
may they be granted
rest in peace and ease/comfort.
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

Ahey, O Lord, our Creator
May we seek
your blessings
for all the Frontliners
Grant them strength
in their manifold works
praying for healing in the land
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

Ahey, O, our Revered God
Grant that we,
(all) your people
be healed from the covid-19 virus
especially for us, senior citizens now
who are prohibited to go out from the community
prevented to see the different places around
Ahey, Ahoooy, Ahoooy, Aho-eeey!

This global pandemic has brought many realizations: it has humbled us to realize that we are not indispensable; that we do not own our life; we have learned to humbly and sincerely get down on our knees to pray to Kabunian (God) to bring us the complete healing we need.

To conclude, these chanters wish to express to everybody “kappia, urnos, gasing, ya salun-at” during this New Year. The words in italics are Kankanaey terms for peace, harmony, joy, and wellbeing. They are happy too, to take part in the preservation, revitalization, and promotion of the indigenous language (Kankanaey) which Kabunian (God) has lovingly bequeathed to their ancestors, the present generation and for their children’s children.

About the Authors:

Estella “Pacita” Wanden. An indigenous wisdom keeper, a known composer, and chanter, an Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) Program implementer of the Department of Education in Bagnen Elementary School, Bauko, Mountain Province. She is blessed with seven children. She shares her gift by teaching the children, youth, and elders in her community. She has the talent of instantaneously composing songs and chants that rhyme which the community and visitors appreciate and enjoy.

Genevieve Balance Kupang. President of Iyaman Interdisciplinary Research and Development, the vice-chair of Sandiwa, a lay associate of the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue of the CBCP; the chair of the Special Interest Groups of the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction; and an incorporator of the Asian Social Institute.