Chicken Sacrafices & the Love of My Life

One of many amazing views in the highlands...

I didn’t know that, before I could travel to see Pat, I’d have to partake in a chicken sacrifice. Pinikpikan is written about in the Lonely Planet guide and I’d given my local friends the Jema-style inquisition about it. From those sources, I gather that: 1) on the purely factual side — a chicken is beaten while alive so that it’s blood coagulates.   Cook and serve. 2) On the “why” side — it is an offer made to God in hopes of protection in an endeavor (a long drive home for us). Beating the chicken somehow appeases the heavenly father and the bad spirits.

How it worked for me: We all went back to Cyril’s place. Andrew (Bunny) held the chicken by it’s wing tips and firmly tapped its wings and all around the chicken with a stick. (I think “beating” is a bit extreme to describe this process.) Then he gave it a firm whack on the head. He says it’s important that the chicken’s last earthly vision isn’t a person, or it will bring that person bad karma/luck/spirits. So after the chicken is knocked silly but still alive, it’s placed in the feather-burning fire (prepared during the “beating”). So I guess the last thing the chicken sees is flames. After the feathers are burned and plucked, the bird goes in the house, gets chopped up, and gets cooked. We roasted and fried.

Pinikpikan preparation at Cyril's place

All this was at the end of a long day full of hurry-up-and-wait. Most of us were hungover from the night before (against the Charlie-Sheen-look-alike’s advice I drank Red Horse — a beer that apparently guarantees a painful morning-after). After “Charlie” and Jun fetched me from Sagada (the guidebook is wrong about the last bus of the day), we had a good time eating and drinking. Until 10 p.m. rolled around. Some fun-killers in Bontoc have pushed through a heart-breaking rule. No music after 10 p.m. In attempt to kill debauchery, this means no live music, no karaoke, no stereo music, no radio… nothing. No music. Period. I wonder if the impromptu acapella I talked the group into would be an arrestable offense? (Can I just say that I loved Andrew/Bunny’s rendition of the Tagalog and regional national anthems?!).

Out in Bontoc with the crew

You know what isn’t an arrestable offense? Driving Under the Influence! At the end of the night — I volunteered for least-drunk-driver after they guaranteed me it’s not a crime. I know, I know… but I really was the least intoxicated. Lesser of two evils. Would you rather have me riding in this situation?   I think my punishment was worst lady-cramps EVER the next day. Sweet “Charlie” tried over and over to give me antacid, and I tried over and over to explain that wasn’t the problem. A few hours and five or six alka-seltzer refusals later, I finally said, “It’s not my stomach, it’s my uterus.” And pointed. Andrew/Bunny with an English vocabulary miles long was the first to understand. “Oh! You have special monthly visitor!” And of course being typical guys, they begged and pleaded (to an already silent Jema) to hear no more. And they added that I should go back to my boyfriend instead of marrying all of them and having Filipino/American children (which they had proposed on a pretty regular basis throughout the day).

The morning after at the "office" in our Bontoc Hotel

Speaking of “my boyfriend…” It’s no surprise to anyone who knows us. Pat and I missed each other like crazy. (Click for the blog that explains why we were apart in the first place).   It killed us to discover we had been passing like ships in the night. When I got to Sagada, I was so sure he was probably there. I tried asking him indirectly, (“Have you joined the Spanish Armada?”). At the end of an hour-long facebook chat, we resorted to straight-talk. No. He wasn’t. Not only were my hopes smashed, but the salt-in-the-open-wound was that for a THIRD time we would arrive in/depart the same town on the same day. NOOOOOO!!!!

We agreed to align our travel plans for a few days. I’d give up Vigan and he’d burn an extra few days in Baguio. So the prize at the end of my hungover, crampy, hurry-up-and-wait, chicken-sacrificing day was jumping into the arms of the love of my life. Yay! ♣

You can check out party photos, chicken shots, vistas, and a puppy in this album.


  • April 7, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Nobody expects the Jema style inquisition!
    A parody on Monty Python’s famous line: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

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