Saturday, May 8, 2010

Doing it the Igorot Way

Igorots in Hong Kong haven't forgotten their culture.  In the picture, you can see them dancing their own Igorot dance.

Hong Kong is a home to more than one hundred thousand Filipinos. They have formed a friendly community in this small territory and while many people do not approve of their strong bonding and activities in different public places such as parks, malls and other public places; Filipinos have their own way of making the most of their time in a place far away from home.

Filipinos are often considered as nuisance in other countries but they don’t heed the words of other people for as long as they know that what they are doing is right. Besides, they help a lot in the families they are serving.

During holidays and day-offs in Hong Kong, Filipinos flock together doing their own thing while the locals shrug their shoulders as they pass by them having picnics in parks and having a program in public places.

The Igorots do not forget their own culture even while they are working away from home. Igorots love exposing their own culture to other people. In Hong Kong, it is not an exemption, whenever they can; the igorot workers in the territory get together and bond among themselves.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Payew, Will the New Generation Continue To Build Them?

Demang Rice Terraces in Tadian, Mt. Province.

The “payew”- rice terraces, have been built by the Igorots long before the modern tools have been invented.  With only the crude tools, the Igorots have managed to build the rice terraces that have supplied them with rice and other crops for hundreds of years.

What make the rice terraces so amazingly beautiful is the fact that they have been built so perfectly hugged around the mountains, plus the fact that they have been built with the sweat and blood of the Igorot ancestors adds to its significance.
Some of the rice terraces are left to regenerate lost fertility.
In summer when the rice turn golden brown, the rice terraces look like a gold mine with the rice grains as the gold nuggets.  Rice is the staple food of all Filipinos and Igorots are not excluded. Igorots are heavy rice eaters because of the nature of their work.   Men especially are committed to their manual work in the fields from dawn to sunset and it is not with naps and breaks.  As soon as they start working, their only rest is the lunch break.  Igorots are known as hard working people.

Today, the modern lifestyle has taught the younger generations to shy away from farm work. Each child wants an executive position when college days are over. Nobody wants to go back to the field and farm. Farming is considered hard work with the least ROI. Nobody wants to work in the mud anymore and remain poor.  The young generation has invaded the modern world and they are out hurdling with the other people all over the world in order to achieve more and taste what life could offer.
Amidst the drastic change of technology lies the rice terraces awaiting hands to toil the soil.   But is there anyone from the new generations who is interested to go back to the mountain and build another terrace to add to the stairways to heaven?  .

Monday, May 3, 2010

Binangi, the Igorot Traditional House, now only a Story in the Past

For many years, the igorots had lived in small houses called binangi

But in the 1960’s big houses sprouted in my home town which made many people aware of the more comfortable houses. People started building two storey houses with rooms .  In the late 70’s there were only a few binangi left around.  These few houses were only used as storage for rice crops in the 80’s.

The traditional house of the Igorots called binangi is a four posted house with a pyramid-shape, thatched roof, with only the entrance as the opening.  It is a one room- 10 by 10 feet dwelling without furniture, save for a very low table called dulang which resembles the Japanese table and low stools called bangkito.  The floor is at least 2 meters high which makes the lower portion of the house a convenient place to stack all the family’s tools.   A portable bamboo ladder called tetey serves as stairs in going up the house.  This is portable and easily removed and raised in a corner when everybody is out for the day.  Houses in the Igorot villages didn’t have locks before but there was no robbery of any kind in those olden days.

The binangi of the Igorots had faded with time and what was left in my community is an abandoned binangi.  It is sad, but the people haven’t preserved the binangi for the young generations to see.  Today, Tadian is already a modernized town with lots of big houses copied from different countries.