Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ifugao: Rice harvest experience in Mayoyao, Ifugao

As soon as we finished breakfast, we hopped on our rickety bus and proceeded to Barangay Chaya where the rice harvest or Pfoto' Ad Majawjaw was going to be held. It was a short hike up from the main road to the house of our host. It was nice to see everyone in traditional Mayoyao attire.

First order of business, after the introductions of course, was the ceremonial slaughter of a pig. If you're not prepared to see blood or listen to a screeching pig, make sure to stay at the back. But being an inherent part of the Ifugao culture, it's very important to respect the ritual as it proceeds. After the slaughter, the participants partake of local rice wine. Once this is done, the harvest begins and the harvesters proceed to the first terrace to cut the rice stalks.

Here is some information from Pochon: "Rice harvesting is a community activity where each member is given a defined role. The women have a special role in the activity being the munbfoto' (the one who actually reaps the rice stalks). They are the ones who cut the rice stalks and hands over to the mun-akun (collectors). After collecting the rice stalks from the munbfoto', the mun-akun will then give to the munbfa-ud who will tie the rice stalks in bundles making sure that all bundles are proportionate. After tying in bundles, the munbfa-ud will give the bundles to the munkhongah whose job is to trim the stalks making them look neat. The munkhongah will then give the bundle to the munkhu-ud who will properly arrange the bundles at the rice granary. The munkhu-ud is the person responsible in making sure that the bundles are properly arranged in the rice granary. One important character in the rice harvest activity is the munhang, who does the cooking of food which the community members will partake for lunch."

Participants of the tour are free to join the harvest if they wish. But be ready to wade in the mud. Well, we settled for second best by harvesting the rice right by the paddy so as not to get ourselves muddied. Indeed, it's an arduous task especially under the hot sun. I was expecting it to be a bit cold but I guess global warming was at work. And I got a bad case of sunburn after today.

In Mayoyao, even people you don't know help out with the harvest. By tradition, each person who helps for a day is entitled to one bundle of rice. Harvests of each household are scheduled so as not to coincide with one another, or else there might not be enough hands to complete the task. So even if you don't have land, if you're resourceful and industrious enough, you can stock up on rice just by helping harvest. There is even a vantage point to find out who is harvesting rice that day.

There are also traditions when bringing bundled rice up to the house. You have to wait until at least ten bundles have been made before you bring it to the house. The host or his wife leads the bundles up to the house. It is first placed in an offering basket before the bundles are stored under the house. We also got a chance to pound the rice and watch an old lady winnow it to take out the pounded husks.

By tradition also, eating cannot commence until the harvest is over. But since it looked like the harvest was far from over, our hosts let us partake of the pig that was slaughtered this morning. The pig was boiled in broth and placed in skewers (barbecue sticks). In Mayoyao, the tradition is to count the people using skewers. Once everyone is counted, the pork is proportioned to each skewer to make sure everyone gets a share of the food.

Another aspect of this communal meal are the woven bamboo plates where the rice is placed. Each plate is shared by about five people and you just dig in using your hands. This is feasting the Mayoyao way and it was definitely fun! They also served us the broth in cups.

After lunch, we were treated to some Ifugao chants and dances before proceeding down for our trek along the rice terraces of Mayoyao.



Part 1: Trip to Mayoyao, Ifugao
Part 2: Mayoyao Rice Terraces in Ifugao
Part 4: Trekking along the rice terraces of Mayoyao
Part 5: Journey across the Ifugao heartland

How to get to Banaue, Ifugao
Florida Bus has a regular trip from Manila direct to Banaue. It leaves Sampaloc, Manila (Lacson St. cor. S. H. Loyola St.) at 10:45 p.m. Or you can take any bus that goes to Cagayan Valley and get off at Solano, Nueva Vizcaya where you can catch regular trips to Banaue and other towns in Ifugao. From Baguio, KMS Bus Lines and Ohayami Trans leave for Banaue at least twice daily.

How to get to Mayoyao, Ifugao
Take a bus from Manila to Santiago, Isabela (any bus to Cagayan or Isabela passes by Santiago). There are mini-buses from Santiago to Mayoyao which leave thrice daily at 6 a.m., 11a.m. and 3 p.m. From Banaue, there is one daily trip to Mayoyao from Solano which passes Banaue between 12 to 1 p.m.

17 comments:

  1. I heychu. Bakit hindi mo ako sinama? Kahit may aversions na ako sa bundok, sama mo ako next time.

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  2. Yes, next tour is January for rice planting. This is highly-recommended. Aside from the fact that it's organized by the local community, it's definitely worth it!

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  3. ang ganda! i was wondering about the harvest nga, i mean, i've never seen pics nung terraces with ready to harvest rice. thanks for sharing :)

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  4. This tour organized by the Pochon Youth Group of Mayoyao is worth it. You should try it out. Next one is in January.

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  5. Ako din sama! Hehe galing ng shots!

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  6. Pochon and Maanichar Centennial batch Assoc., Inc. or Pochon Group; a non-profit organization composed of young people from Mayoyao once again invites you to join the Pfoto' Ad Majawjaw festival (Rice Harvest in Mayoyao) which is scheduled from July 18-20, 2008 in the municipality of Mayoyao, province of Ifugao.

    It is the advocacy of the Pochon Group to help maintain and preserve the richness of the cultural heritage of this town, to allow the generations to appreciate the cultural practices of the ancestors who tried their best to hand the rich culture to the present generation for the next to learn about it.

    The Pfoto' Ad Majawjaw tour is an eco-cultural activity that the Pochon Group is organizing as its contribution to preserve the Mayoyao Rice Terraces and the culture that goes with the terraces. Portion of the proceeds of the tour will go to the heritage trust fund that will be used to help promote the indigenous culture of the Mayoyao People to its young generation and the people who wishes to have an extra ordinary experience in this beautiful town where unexplored nature still abound.

    Rice harvesting is a community activity where each member is given a defined role. The women have a special role in the activity being the Munbfoto' (the one who actually reaps the rice stalks). They are the ones who cut the rice stalks and hands over to the Mun-akun (collectors). After collecting the rice stalks from the Munbfoto', the Mun-akun will then give to the Munbfa-ud who will tie the rice stalks in bundles making sure that all bundles are proportionate. After tying in bundles, the Munbfa-ud will give the bundles to the Munkhongah whose job is to trim the stalks making them look neat. The Munkhongah will then give the bundle to the Munkhu-ud who will properly arrange the bundles at the rice granary. The Munkhu-ud is the person responsible in making sure that the bundles are properly arranged in the rice granary. One important character in the rice harvest activity is the Munhang, who does the cooking of food which the community members will partake for lunch.

    See you all for rice planting in January!

    For reservations, please contact:
    JOAN SHEELAH (Josh) O. NALLIW
    E-mail: josh21020@gmail.com
    Mobile: +639064826300

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  7. Maraming salamat for promoting our activity, you are always welcome to come back to Mayoyao..for those who were not able to, you are also invited. Thanx again! :-)

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  8. No problem. I enjoyed it. See you again in January!

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  9. Anonymous21.8.08

    hay!!!!! thanks so much for posting those Mayoyao photos!!! plus the huge Magat dam......been in those spots during the late 90s, one Lenten season, where 3 friends joined me in an unplanned trip. lahat kami nasa abroad na ngayon.....i remember staying in the house of the town's postal office officer(?), who also runs a kind of a hostel sa centro ng bayan ng Mayoyao....malayo, as in malayo talaga from Banaue, rough roads, pero MUCH WORTH the trip.....they speak a unique language, actually, that sounds chinese to me.....they have a different style of rice terraces na mas flat, pero mas malawak...i remember the rice fields were green with stalks that will be ready for the next step of the whole rice planting/growing/harvesting process.....it's purely hardwork, NOTHING ELSE, though we tend to romanticize the whole thing, not noticing the hardships, & we get angry when rice prices go superhigh as what happened lately....looking back, talaga naman dapat mag-taas ang presyo ng bigas, at KAHIRAP HIRAP magtanim, at magdistribute nito sa consumer, ang dami daming layers bago makarating sa end consumer...
    anyway, thanks again for posting something about Mayoyao. I have photos as well, but have kept them back in the Philippines; maybe someday will write something about that trip.
    God bless - Jerome

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  10. Hi Sir Jerome! Im glad you also visited our place. I hope you liked your stay there, though when you went there, I know the condition of the roads before in the late 90's is different from the condition of the roads now, especially the road to Santiago via Aguinaldo and Alfonso Lista. now, the road to Santiago is gradually improving, unlike the one via Banaue, still rugged and so rough. also, before in the late 90's, brownouts usually last 'till two weeks to one month before the electric current can be restored. thanks to the generator of the hospital. we still watched the ending of the teleserye "Mara Clara" and the other one by ABS-CBN (that is the only network we could watch in Mayoyao). so you could imagine the people who are "mahilig" in watching teleserye's flocking to the hospital just to watch the said show... :-)

    Back in the late 90's, we were still high school students, dreaming to be one day successful career people, idealistic regarding work, even dreaming to migrate abroad. so we pursued our respective college educations after our graduation in 1998. but somewhere along the way, while we were assessing our own situations and the situation of our dearly beloved Mayoyao, something changed our perspectives and which led to the organization of the POCHON/MAANICHAR. now we find ourselves young advocates for the preservation of our cultural heritage and doing something about the impending problem on the vanishment of our cultures that go along with our prided rice terraces...we hope to influence other youths from Mayoyao to help us in this endeavor...

    We hope you could visit again Mayoyao sometime when you come back to the Philippines!

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  11. Mayoyao is a really beautiful place. It's great the Pochon Group organizes these cultural experiences for tourists. I think I saw that hostel since that's where we buy our snacks and water.

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  12. odie5.5.09

    when is the next schedule for rice planting? can kids ages 13-15 years old join this rice planting?

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  13. Hello Ivan. I came across your blog and find it really informative. I particularly like the Rice Terraces in Ifugao entries because I am hosting someone from Paris and he wants to go there. It's been a year since my visit there and was weighing the options of bringing my car or just taking the bus.Great to know where to take the bus. Bet. Sept. 13 to 24, which would be a good time to visit the Rice Terraces? I understand the harvest is in January. Thank you so much and keep on writing sensible informative articles. I too have a blog which talks about my travels but because I am busy I don't write much. You have inspired me to write more.. Thanks

    Mhe-anne

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  14. For as long as it's not raining, it's okay to visit.

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  15. Anonymous23.4.10

    i didnt find mayoyao interesting. you can find nice terraces in Hunguan not in mayoyao besides pochon group is not accommodating at all. pochon is expecting too much money and they didnt give the other proceeds to mayoyao. aside from me ive been getting some bad comments from people who went there and they were not satisfied at all. thats why few people come to mayoyao

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  16. Negative posts that are anonymously posted are not really that credible.

    First, Pochon only organizes two trips a year due to the logistical difficulties. Other than that, they have their own day jobs. They are not a tour agency which can accommodate you anytime you want to go.

    Second, you talk about money. I know for a fact that many of their early tours didn't earn. So they had to raise funds from their own pockets to pay their suppliers.

    Finally, if you didn't find Mayoyao interesting, you can ask UNESCO to delist it from the UNESCO World Heritage List. A few people go to Mayoyao because it's far and really out of the way.

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  17. Hey ivan! We're doing a project on Pochon Youth Group I was just wondering howd you learn aboutt his group and the experience?

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