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Ifugao tourist destinations

Ifugao dads enact ordinance to support tourism industry

by Vency D. Bulayungan

kayangan ifugaoKIANGAN, Ifugao — With the vision of transforming the oldest and most historic town here into a heritage town and an eco-cultural tourism haven, the municipal dads here enacted an ordinance providing and mandating the protection and management of all God-given natural and man-made tourist spots and providing funds thereof.

Annie Dumangeng, Municipal Tourism Officer here said that the municipal government here supports the tourism industry not only as an economic undertaking but also as a way of promoting its rich historic cultural legacy. (more…)

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Eco-tourism development still priority program of Kiangan Ifugao

igugao woman in KianganKIANGAN, Ifugao — Eco- tourism is still cited by this municipality as its pet project for the coming years as it did not yet fully realize the benefits that can be obtained from this industry.

According to Engr. Jos Aguana, municipal planning and development coordinator of this town, they are still harmonizing all efforts to maximize the development of this industry so that all the potential benefits that can be derived to help the people enjoy economic progress will come to fruition in the years to come.

Aguana identified the activities they have undertaken in 2006 relative to this program but admits that these are not enough and many things more has to be done. (more…)

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Ifugao rice harvest festival

At the end of the rice production cycle, the Ifugaos celebrate the Bakle festival. It’s time to feed the bulul (rice god)!

Gongs are sounded and the villagers dressed in traditional g-strings and colorful woven cloth gaily make binakle (traditional rice cakes) and baya (rice wine). Through the help of the non-government organization Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo), participants were able to witness one of the fourteen rice festivals celebrated throughout the year.

Last August 26-27, the Bakle’d Kiangan was held at Julongan village in the Ifugao province. Visitors, mostly photographers and members of the press, were given a firsthand look into the way of life of the Ifugaos.

When the palay becomes golden brown in color, the Ifugaos harvest the rice from the famous rice terraces and hold a festival to give thanks for their harvest. The villagers pound diket or glutinous rice to be made into binakle (a sticky rice cake wrapped in leaves). They also offer two kinds of baya: the red rice wine and white rice wine.

Division of labor can be seen during the making of the binakle. The men pound the rice by using a heavy pestle while the women are in charge of winnowing the rice.

The highlight of the Bakle festival is the ritual of sacrifice. In it, the elders pray to the gods and sacrifice a hen and rooster’s blood as an offering to the bulul. When the rooster was being offered, it put up a fight, causing it to upturn the container with the collected blood. The elder commented that the spirit was struggling and that we needed to pray to appease it.

Even though others might brand these rituals as being paganistic, most Ifugaos are already Catholics and they conduct these rituals in order to preserve them for future generations. They also do these in the hopes of receiving more blessings in the future. It is their belief that the entrails of the sacrificed chickens hold the key to having a blessed year. After the blood letting, the two chickens are cut open and the elders check to see if their gallbladders are in good condition. If the chicken’s gallbladder is intact, this signifies a good year ahead for all the participants. If not, the Ifugaos will keep on sacrificing chickens until the gods are appeased. Luckily for us, the gods were in our favor so they only had to sacrifice two chickens.

The culminating activity was a cultural night that featured young children and adults dancing the traditional dances of their forefathers.

The Ifugaos take pride in their rich culture and heritage but economic factors are compelling them to abandon rice farming and seek greener pastures elsewhere. But SITMo staff and volunteers are dedicated to preserving the culture that nurtures the Ifugao rice terraces – the 8th wonder of the world and part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.

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Ifugao: Continuing the 2,000 year old tradition

bangaan rice terracesThe origin of the Ifugao’s is derived from the term Ipugo which refers to the rice grain given to them by their god Matungulan. Until the present day, this kind of rice grain is cultivated by the Ifugaos. Over two thousand years old of cultural herigate, the ifugao’s are continuing the tradition of planting the world renowned banaue rice.

The Ifugao inhabit the most rugged and mountainous part of the country, high in the Central Cordillera in northern Luzon, with peaks rising from 1,000-1,500 m., and drained by the waters of the Magat River, a tributary of Cagayan River. The area covers about 1942.5 sq. km. of the territory. Their neighbors to the north are the Bontoc; to the west Kankanay and Ibaloy; to the east the Gaddang; and to the south the Ikalahan and Iwak. There are 10 municipalities in the province: Banaue, Hungduan, Kiangan, Lagawe, Lamut, Mayoyao, Potia, Hingyan and Tinoc. There are 154 barangay, with Lagawe as the town center of the province.

Ifugao religious beliefs are expressed in the numerous rites and prayers (baki) that comprise the main body of Ifugao myths. The myths and folktales tell of their gods and goddesses, related supernatural beings, their ancestors and the forces of nature. The Ifugaos, aside from being deity worshipers, are nature worshipers and ancestor worshipers.

Before harvest, the ifugao’s are having a ritual called Munbulul, where they offer animals to the bulul – it is a wooden statue; female or male. An expert performer in the invocation of the gods, is needed. The family can invite the neighbors to join in, also with the ritual meals. It is performed when the family finds it necessary. It is sacred to the family who owns it.

ifugaoThe “hudhud” is recited and chanted among the Ifugao people during the sowing and harvesting of rice, funeral wakes and other rituals. Estimated to have originated before the 7th century, the “hudhud” – comprised of some 40 episodes – often take three or four days to recite. The language of the chants, almost impossible to transcribe, is full of repetitions, synonyms, figurative terms and metaphors. Performed in a leader/chorus style, the reciter – often an elderly woman – occupies a key position in society. There is only one tune, common to the entire region, for all of the verses. Very few written examples of “hudhud” exist.

The conversion of the Ifugao to Catholicism weakened their traditional culture. The “hudhud” was linked to the manual harvesting of rice which is now mechanized. It has been replaced at funeral wakes by television and radio. Although the rice terraces are inscribed on the World Heritage List, the number of cultivators continues to decrease. The few people who know all the poems are very old, and young people are not interested in this tradition.



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