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Sunday, May 23, 1999 Published at 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Burial for mummy remains

Return of mummy celebrated with ancient rituals

By John McLean in Manila

Mountain tribes in the northern Philippines are celebrating the recovery of the mummified remains of one of their ancestors.

James McClean reports: "Many believe the disappearance of the mummy led to earthquakes, disease and bad harvests"
The tribespeople believe the theft of the 500-year-old mummy, called Apo Annu, more than 80 years ago, resulted in various kinds of natural calamities.

The return of Apo Annu to the Cordillera Mountains of the northern Philippines is being celebrated with a three-day wake, including all kinds of ancient rituals.

Dozens of cows, pigs, water buffalo and dogs are being sacrificed. To ensure an auspicious reburial, local tribesmen in their colourful traditional dress are prohibited from fighting, breaking glass, sneezing, or even breaking wind.

Half human, half deity

[ image: Laid to rest in mountain cave]
Laid to rest in mountain cave
The tribes believe that Apo Annu was a mighty hunter, half human and half deity.

He was mummified in a crouching position five centuries ago and interned in a cave.

But at the beginning of this century, loggers discovered the caves housing the mummies of Apo Annu and other tribal nobles. Many of the mummies were stolen and sold to collectors.

An antique dealer handed over the mummy of Apo Annu to the National Museum in Manila 15 years ago and the museum decided that it should be returned to its original cave.

This delighted Apo Annu's modern day descendants. They believed his absence resulted in earthquakes, disease and bad harvests.

The practice of mummification died out in the Philippines after the arrival of Christianity in the 16th century. These days, four-fifths of all Filipinos are Roman Catholics.

But many, not just mountain tribes, still cling to ancient animistic beliefs.

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