Ifugao celebrates Imbayah festival

BANAUE, Ifugao -- Locals paraded the streets as the province celebrates Imbayah festival.

Four contingents grouped together comprised of merged villages here participated in a short parade in celebration of the Imbayah Festival.

Contingents were composed of barangays Poblacion and Bocos in the first cluster, Cluster 2 saw the merging of Bangan, Banao, Anaba and Dukligan villages, Cluster 3 comprised of Cambulo, Batad and Kinakin areas while Cluster 4 had San Fernando, Viewpoint, Uhaj and Gohang villages with a theme “An Institution of greatness, a festival of life.”

The three–day celebration was highlighted by the parade of contingents, with each depicting local scenes, rituals in harvest, planting giving the audience a glimpse of the Ifugao way of life.

The festival which started in the 70’s was initially celebrated every three years, but under the leadership of Mayor Jerry Dalipog, the festival has become an annual event.

Department of Tourism-Cordillera Regional Director Marie Venus Tan said the move is both to promote the province as a tourism and cultural destination and encourage local farmers to tend the rice fields, giving them a steady buyer in the aim to keep the local industry as well as the culture of farming alive.

Tourism has become one of the leading sources of income for the people of Ifugao, the area being one of the top destinations in the country today with the Batad, Bangaan, Nagadacan, Mayoyao, and Hapao Rice Terraces pulling in local and international visitors all year round.

The Banaue Rice Terraces is estimated to be a 2,000-year-old structure carved into the mountains of Ifugao by ancestors of the indigenous people.

But the areas are now plagued with various issues which lead to the degradation of the terraces with issues on pest control, a revival of interest for the terraces for locals as well as balance of tourism and culture.

50-year-old Texas native Barry Taylor has been visiting the province for over five years, coming back to document and interview locals on age old tradition.

“We have to document this before it disappears, in a few years, all this will be gone,” Taylor noted.

Taylor said the outmigration of locals is an obvious problem the province faces, leaving terraces unattended and the town lacking locals to continue traditional practices.  

The rice terraces use an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps were put end to end, it would encircle half the globe. (MEC)


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