Over breakfast Jerome Tuppyak told me about Lubo’s war with their neighbours from Mangali.
The last one started in 1984. The B’dong (peace pact) had only been in place for about five years. There had been another long war in the 1970’s, though these dates are rough. No-one around here is very bothered about dates. Ask and old man how old he is and he’s liable to reply ‘My son was this tall when the Japanese came’. I’m not sure that I trust the headhunting ‘scores’ very much either.
So, ‘according to Jerome’, 38 people from Mangali died, which, given that there are probably only a couple of thousand of them, is a lot.
The conflict started when a Mangali hunter, out in the dense forest, shot at what he thought was a pig. It was a hunter from Lubo, who died. The Lubo people took their revenge, killing three people from Mangali.
Jerome acted as Sacuwsak, the ‘go-between’ tasked with finding a settlement. After a couple of tense months, the Mangali people demanded 60,000 pesos to restore the peace pact. The Lubo folks raised 40,000, so Jerome had to take it upon his own good self to make up the shortfall, in the form of four carabaos.
He gave three reasons for his generosity: to prevent killing; to do good in the eyes of God; and to increase his progress towards becoming a Pangat (a respected statesman). Indeed, so pangat-like was his behaviour in resolving the conflict, he ‘won’ the election for councillor had his victory not been denied by xxxxxx’s ‘watchers’ who fiddled the results.
Jerome was chosen as Sacuwsak because his wife was from Mangali, which meant he was both exempt from being killed in revenge and honour bound to play no part in the conflict.