Love Song of the Igorots

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Related: ‘Layad Nen Sikhafan’: Cordillera’s Most Popular Song



by Augustus Ulat Saboy, ca. 1960s

TABUK, Kalinga-Apayao. Jan 23 (PNS) – A song inspired by a true-to-life story of two Bontoc Igorot sweethearts has become the most popular hit in the Mountain Provinces.

Entitled “Layad Nan Likhatan,” the song literally means, “The Love We Have Suffered.”

Almost every owner of a portable radio-phonograph has a record of the song – young and old women, school children and students have learned the song by heart. Even the unlettered highlander riding on a bus or singing a lullaby to a child who is carried piggy-back at home hums or sings the song.

Singer and Composer

The song has been popularized by Pedro L. Chinalpan, its singer and composer. [Note: Recent research attributes the authorship of the song to Timothy D. Chaokas, also a Bontoc Igorot. – sms]

Chinalpan is a 35-year old Bontoc balladeer, and a Dangwa truck driver.

Actually, Chinalpan has been singing the song long before he recorded it on wax.

Chinalpan, who is well-loved by passengers riding in his Dangwa Tranco bus along the mountain highways, said he used to sing love songs while driving “to keep himself awake.”

The truck driver’s good singing voice earned him the distinction of being the “land-pilot-singing Igorot,” a name still given him today.

His fame spread shortly after a talent scout from a movie company in Manila who was aboard his bus discovered him.

At the Recording Studio

In June 1963, he was invited to Manila for a recording of his voice.

After some difficulty adjusting to the demands of the recording studio artists, Chinalpan finally got “Layad Nan Likatan” into the platters.

Sang in the Bontoc dialect, “Layad Nan Likatan” tells the story of a man who won the love of a girl after he had bested his rivals, and later married her. During their early years together, the wife became unfaithful, and was estranged from her husband. They were later reunited through their daughter who, too, became a singer.

Chinalpan hopes to record more Igorot songs which he had composed during the past years.

Philanthropist needed

He also hopes that some philanthropist would help him underwrite his recording expenses. Chinalpan is optimistic that he would be able to put out better records with his other songs.

Chinalpan, who is blessed with a beautiful baritone, is a teetotaler. He neither smokes nor drinks.

When with his charming wife, the former Cecilia Sumeg-ang, and their six children, he sings his unrecorded Igorot songs.

Chinalpan now drives a Dangwa bus on the Kalinga-Apayao road.

The Igorot driver-song artist says that since his song, “Layad Nan Likatan” became popular, he has had difficulty keeping away from young boys and girls who ask him to sing songs before them, especially on bus stops along his route.

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