Residing in the north has given me great opportunities to travel further up and get close encounters with the locals and understand a lot about their thriving cultures. I went to the province of Ifugao in Hapao last November ,and in Kiangan on January of this year. Yes, my entry for Hapao is very late, as this is included in my ten destinations for 2010. Both of them were work opportunities, one is voluntary. It was just amazing to see the part of Ifugao that's not that commercialized, the culture is much more unadulterated, not much tourists, not much houses and establishments on the rice terraces. Like what some of the locals jokingly said to me, quote unquote, "Banawe House Terraces", here, you could appreciate the view better. I think it's even a good place for your honeymoon or something. Aside from the view, I also got the chance to immerse myself in the place, in Kiangan. I got to eat what the locals in the farm eat, do what the farmers do. They explained to me their rice cycle, taught to me tips on how to make rice paddies, how to transplant, and why it's like that. It was really humbling. I greatly appreciate the efforts that these locals are putting to save their identities, their culture. We know that we couldn't stop modernity from expanding, and we know that a lot has been born and lost because of it. I'm not against change, but this experience has really taught me that there are some things which should be left as it is.
Artwork by Midori Hirota, installed on the soil of Ifugao’s rice terraces. These were created using hand-made paper out of rice stalks. It was the artist’s symbolism of peace and reconciliation for the Filipino victims during WWII under the Japanese soldiers. Organized by the Cordillera Green Network (CGN).
Here in Kiangan, there's a group called the Save the Ifugao Movement (SITMo). In order to revive their disappearing culture, they coordinate tours where the guests experience the traditions through cultural dance performances and the transmission of indigenous agricultural knowledge especially to the younger generation. All stakeholders, even the ethnic communities, is well benefited.
Their terraces, as compared to Hapao, don't need stone walls because of the rich and very compact soil characteristic.Trying it out
When I visited, a group of Korean students were there also for the immersion. The line 'magtanim ay di biro' is so true.
This boy is perfecting the technique on how to make rice paddies, as part of their soil preparation.
Transplanting or 'ahitunod'
Kiangan was chosen by UNESCO as one of their list of world heritage site. To be on this list means that the location is considered to be endangered. One of Ifugao's huge problem is that the locals migrate in the city for a greener pasture, thus leaving their land futile.
We met a blind man named Andres playing the mouth flute. Our guide said that he's there on this place every afternoon. We went back on the same spot a few hours later, and he's still there, proudly playing the same song over and over to some Korean visitors. It's awesome.