Museo Kordilyera opens new exhibit

THE Museo Kordilyera will open its doors to the public anew on February 2 with another themed exhibit called “Feasts of Merit.”

Located at the University of the Philippines Baguio, the museum will formally open at 2:30 p.m. after less than six weeks of transition from the inaugural exhibit to this new presentation which explores the connection between wealth, status, and feasting in the Luzon Cordillera.

The new exhibit will showcase artifacts, material culture, as well as photographs that relate to and depict rituals in the Cordillera described as “prestige feasts” because these are often performed by the upper class of Cordillera society called the “kadangyan.”

Professor Emeritus Delfin Tolentino Jr., one of the exhibit curators explains feasting has always been an integral part of human society from ancient times to the present. He adds prestige feasts are often held to commemorate an event, which could be political, religious, or ceremonial in nature or intent.

A centerpiece object in the exhibit is an Ifugao house (baleh) which is a place where most rituals are held by the Ifugao. The house is a full-scale artifact originally from Asipulo, Ifugao, dismantled, then assembled at the museum. One of the prestige feasts featured is the Ifugao “Hongan di Page” or rice rituals.

Museum director and exhibit co-curator Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores said the Ifugao kadangyan perform the ritual to mark their upper class status in the community. She said families considered kadangyan are those with expansive rice fields and possessed with surplus goods such as rice and domestic animals.

She explains however, that while they are considered upper class, their wealth is attributed to the fact that they do not shun hard labor “oftentimes working harder than the common people.”

A ritual of Benguet province is also explored particularly the Ibaloy “Peshit” curated by professorial lecturer Bienvenido Tapang Jr. He said a new aristocratic class was established among the Ibaloy of Benguet in the 19th century as a result of the cattle industry. He said the “baknang” had emerged when previously there was no marked class distinction.

Performing the ritual “peshit” is a way to secure membership in the “exclusive fraternity” of the “baknang,” Prof. Tapang said. He added that a “peshit” is performed as it “also served as a form of distribution mechanism by which the affluent families were able to share their wealth with the rest of the community.”

The Museo Kordilyera serves as a venue for the UP faculty to present their research outputs. (PR)
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