September 10, 2012

Ifugao's after-harvest tradition worthy of preservation

"Ponnok festival"
credit to Inquirer News
Expressing gratitude for a good harvest has been one of Ifugao's way of giving thanks through series of get-together local games and festivities. One after-harvest highlight for this year is the August 'ponnok festival' in Hungduan, Ifugao where residents wear traditional costumes and parade into a nearby river. The setting is unique since locals do the festival in the river, the sole supplier of irrigation in the rice terraces. Such festival should be preserved by the residents in Ifugao as it is one way of showcasing rich traditions. Its originality can lure tourist arrivals that could help spur economic growth in the province bringing additional income for the villagers.
The two-day festival is participated by villagers of barangays Hapao, Baang, and Nungulunan. It opens with a 'huwa' (community prayer) then followed by an invitation from a 'kadangyan' (usually the wealthiest or most influential person) ordering the villagers to stop working and join the thanksgiving ritual. After that, the 'mombagol' or sometimes called 'mumbaki' (ritual priest) invites the spirits of ancestors and local gods to join the feast with the belief that the rice terraces could produce the same bounty for the next harvest. The priest will then read a good sign from the bile of a sacrificial chicken which signals the drinking of the 'bayah' (rice wine) by the villagers for the rest of the day.
The next day marks the formal opening of the 'guyyudan' (tug-of-war) competition and other local games with a parade spotlighting the 'kinaag' (scarecrow) and 'pakid' (wooden pole with a hook) which would be used in the tug-of-war game. Reaching the river, the villagers of each barangay cheer their players as they perform the competition with their bodies half-soaked in the flowing river current. This year's overall winner is barangay Baang. According to the locals, the 'ponnok festival' is last recorded in 1986 but revived in 1997.#jbnii
Reference: Ifugao native games for good harvest, 9/5/2012

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