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Friday, August 28, 2020

Apo Anno: The Mummified Demigod of the Philippines

The most popular and well known mummies of world history were found in Egypt. But little did we know that there are also mummies with historical significance in the Philippines. The most famous would be Apo Anno, a figure hailed as a demigod in Kankanaey mythology.

Appo Anno, Mummified Demigod

During the last years of the 19th century, there was a gold rush in archeological discoveries around the world, archeology became a lucrative profession in the academe, and western intellectuals began trotting the globe to acquire these valuable Veblen goods that they can sell to the aristocracy or store in the museums. Like the Egyptian pharaohs who were revered as a demigod, Apo Anno is also considered as a demigod among the Kankanaey tribe.

One of the most overlooked of these discoveries is the mummified remains of Appo Anno, a demigod figure and a former tribal leader of the Kankanaey Tribe in Benguet, Philippines. According to ageless tales passed from one generation to another among Kankanaey kinsmen, he was a son of an enchantress that took a human form named Kuyapon. There is no definite date of his life and death but historians believe Appo Anno lived around the 1100's and according to tales he lived up to 250 years of age. He lived his life as an honorable warrior and given a warrior's burial on an etched tree at Nabalicong, Benguet. Apo Anno is famous for his intricate tattoo that spread across his body.

Appo Anno, Mummified Demigod
Image: News Summed Up

Apo Anno's mummy is also a victim of the widespread archeological looting and plunders during the early years of the 20th Century. A thief stole Anno's remains from 1918 to 1920, it coincided with the development of mining in the Benguet province by the Americans. After four years his mummified body was seen in an exhibit in Manila. And after decades, Appo Anno's body was not seen in public again. Locals believed that the several misfortunes that they experienced during the disappearance of Appo Anno such as landslides, earthquakes, flooding, and other disasters are judgments of the elementals for not taking care of his remains.

Appo Anno Cave
Image: Flickr

His mummified body remained hidden until 1984 when an antique shop carried Appo Anno as one of its products was inspected by the employees of the National Museum. It was kept in closed doors until it was returned to its home village in May 1999. The event was well publicized and even international media such as Associated Press documented the festivities during the return of Appo Anno. Tribesmen also observed that upon the return of Appo Anno, the harvest of the year flourished and natural calamities mysteriously did not befall their home village.

More than 20 years after the return of Appo Anno to their home village, tribesmen observed that years of exposure caused the mummy to deteriorate. Since 2016, public viewing of Appo Annon. There was a plan to erect or construct the area where Appo Anno's coffin was located and turn it into a park for tourists to see and experience the rich culture of the Kankanaey. Apo Anno's remains is considered as a National Treasure and should remain in the collective knowledge of the Filipinos for years to come. 


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