Peace Corps Philippines: Ceremonial Killing

**Warning** This post may not be suitable for all readers (ie: Vegetarians, those with weak stomachs)

Sundays have always been my hair wash day and nothing interesting occurs, except this rest day was out of the ordinary. I prepared my hair to wash like normal, however, something derailed me from this plan. I passed by the window and saw Rustom holding a chicken by the neck. My hair was clipped up in four sections looking like I had small chia pets growing from my scalp. Despite my strange appearance, I banged on the window and in my broken Kinaray-a asked if he was going to kill that chicken. He shook his head, smiled and pulled his hand across his neck motioning that he was indeed going to kill the chicken. “Dali Lang” is all I could get out. Telling him to wait while I went around to the back of the house to view this act.

I watched as one person held the chicken held the legs while the other cut the throat of the chicken. While it bled out I realized that it turned out to be more humane than I had imagined. In my mind, I pictured a chaotic cartoon scene of a chicken literally running around with his head cut off. Just when I thought the deed was done. The chicken had post-mortem spasms which sent me running and jumping on the nearest bench in case the chicken did decide to stumble around in my direction. 

As the boys proceed with the process of preparing the chicken, I wondered if this was how they prepared my meals on the days I was served fried chicken. Nanay Lau told me it was not and provided more commentary pointing out the body parts they were cleaning. Without my request she made a point of informing me which parts would be cooked and what would be discarded. I was not exactly thrilled about the anatomy lesson but I did appreciate the background information on this occasion. It turned out to be a special occasion that required a ceremonial killing, the Panidlak.

The Panidlak is conducted when there is a new building constructed and finished. They kill a chicken and with the blood put a cross sign on each wall for blessings. It is to invite good luck, bring good fortune, and respect to the spirits or entities that may have dwelled there previously. In this case the building was the dirty kitchen, a separate kitchen area used to prepare the food before the actual cooking. The men that worked on the dirty kitchen relaxed eating chicken and drinking brandy to celebrate their hard work. It some way it felt as if I attend a house warming party.


*Disclaimer* The contents presented on this website is of my own opinion and does not represent the views, opinions or policies of the Peace Corps, United States Government or any other organization in anyway.