Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rediscovering the North - Part 4 BANAWE- Then and Now

I have always loved this place although it was very inaccessible in the late 90's. I still braved the bad roads and the long hours on the road ( it took us almost 10 hours just to get here ) to Banawe.... but the trip was really worth it!!!!! This is my third time visiting Banawe and I never got tired of the place. I keep on looking forward in going to Banawe all the time. This time I was with my son, Iggy on a photo shoot assignment.

Banawe has changed since my last visit...... I can remember that during those times--- once you are in Banawe-- you are cut off from the world.... there were no cell sites. The only means of communication that time was calling long distance. Unlike today, I saw at least 2 humongous cell site towers towering behind the inn where I stayed. They are the GLOBE and SMART towers.

When you walk in the plaza a long time ago-- there were a few stalls in the market place with a few jeepneys plying the route of Banawe to other places like Sagada, Bontoc, Baguio, Mt. Data ( the highest mountain in the Philippines ) and Ambuklao Dam. Now-- with the influx of foreigners mostly backpackers the jeepneys now fill the once- empty plaza.

There were more genuine antique artifacts being sold at the market then----- now---- you can find a lot of generic artifacts that are being sold. It is very hard to find a true antique artifact these days in Banawe.

this is what I got for myself... PANG - AO Beads --14th Century.  They are chinese peking beads ( the red and amber beads ) and the antique glass beads ( with gold foil inside ). These pang-aos are used by the Kadangyans. It is a symbol of the rich tribal lords.

and the Ifugao amulet....

According to Lily Beyer Luglug, owner of the Banawe Museum and grand daughter of Henry Otley Beyer ( the world renown anthropoligist ), ---- These artifacts were sold then by the Ifugaos out of necessity -- the old folks were selling them in order to send their kids to school or they would sell them for their daily living expenses. But now since all their kids have finished schooling and they have been helping out their parents--- they do not find the need to let go of their antiques. It is very hard now to even entice these old folks to sell their priced possessions from their ancestors which were handed down to them thru generations. Most of the genuine antique artifacts can be seen in the Banawe Museum owned by Gerry and Lily Beyer- Luglug.  I heard from other people --- a lot of the antiques in the museum has been bought ( they still have good ones left ) ---and transported all over the world. The biggest collection of the Beyers can be seen at the Chicago Museum.

There was only one hotel then--- Banawe Hotel ( it is still there ), and during that time I discovered BANAWE VIEW INN ( owned and operated by Gerry and Lily Beyer Luglug ). The inn is a small family hotel set on a promotory overlooking the town. The accommodations are cozy and reasonably priced. The staff are very friendly. The last time I was here in the late 90's, this inn was already operating. I was glad to be back at this inn again. What I love about this Banawe View Inn is the view of the mountains and the sky, and the town center below. At my left is the view of the rice terraces, in front of me is the distant view of the waterfalls ( there was no waterfall this time due to the lack of rain ) and at the right is the view of the mountains and a beautiful sunrise.

But there are cheaper hotels in Banawe ( SANAFE and Greenview Inn ) which are sometimes called budget hotels in Banawe. But all types of hotels are geared to provide the amenities to its guests within their budget. There are no constraints on budget as one can find different styled and budgeted accommodation in Banawe. From 4 Star Hotels to cheap hotels.

Weaving is the exclusive task of the Ifugao women. Weaving entails a long process beginning with the preparation of the raw materials to be used. spinning known as INWALANGAN; dyeing; warping the cotton threads; and finally the actual weaving. This involves at least 2 womean who operate the weaving loom. Most of the time these women weave blankets, g-strings or upper garments. Today, according to Lily, they are trying to revive this tradition.

That evening I asked Jovita Luglug if she could prepare for us an Ifugao dish. I wanted to taste something uniquely Ifugao !!! Since it was market day in Banawe she had no problem looking for some indigenous products that are only found in Banawe.

Here is what we had:

These are  called KULDI ( green beans ) that are grown organically in the hillsides and slopes of Banawe. This is a very common meal of the Ifugao people.

these are little AGUDONG ( clams ) which the Ifugaos get from their rice paddies .

The most exotic of them all was this .... FRIED  TIKKAM ( RED ANTS ) DISH we had.... those little white things that you see in the photo which looks like beans are the eggs of the ants. It looked scary to eat at first but after taking the first bite of this dish.... it was YUMMMY !!! the eggs of the ants tasted a bit sour . I asked Jovita how she cooked it... she said she just cooked it --- by sauteing the ants with little oil and added salt to the dish. She did not use vinegar.. this is my first time having RED ANTS for dinner!!!! Salt in the olden days was a rare commodity so the Ifugaos use it to enhance the taste of their food.

Iggy and I tasted their Ifugao Rice Wine too... I was able to ask Lily how this rice wine is made. She gave the step by step procedure on how to make rice wine the Ifugao way.. let me share it with you.


* You need to have glutinous rice ( you can use either red or white glutinous rice ).
* You will roast the rice then cool it off. 
* Cook rice with less water  than the normal way of cooking rice. When the rice is cooked. 
* You get a winnowing tray ( see photo ). Put the cooked rice in the winnowing tray to dry. 


* When the rice is cooled apply powdered yeast. Ifugao yeast comes in balls so you have to pound it first then sprinkle it on top of the cooked rice. Mix both yeast and rice. If you want to have a stronger tasting rice wine... more yeast is added to the cooled rice. 
* Put the mixture in a container ( see photo below ).


This container must be lined with banana leaves. Once lined --- put the rice/yeast mixture. Cover the rice mixture with a layer of banana leaves. To have a sweet tasting rice wine.. you can keep it for 2 days. If you want a stronger brew... you have to keep it around 3 to 5 days. 
* On the second day - prick the banana leaf to make the nectar flow. Put a container ( it has to be porcelain ) at the lower edge of the container in order to  catch the nectar coming out.


According to Lily--- they always use porcelain jars to catch the nectars because it gives a distinctive taste to the rice wine.  If you cooked 2 gantas of rice --- you will get 4 cups of nectar. 
* On the third day - clean the porcelain jar and get the rice mixture ( from the other container ) and put it inside the  porcelain jar together with the nectar. Put again banana leaf on top of the rice and cover the mouth of the jar with banana leaves too. 


If it is done properly-- you will not get a headache. Usually the first juice that comes out of the nectar is sold immediately. The second juice that comes out of the nectar is then mixed with a mixture of boiled sugar and water. These are the ones that is sold in the markets. 


From Manila there are airconditioned buses that go straight to Banawe. The trip takes about 9 hours. The DANGWA TRANSIT or FLORIDA BUS LINES travel this route daily.

Terminals are located at : Dimasalang St., Sampaloc , Manila   or
                                         Aurora Boulevard, Cubao, Quezon City
tel. nos. 731 2879
              410 1991

Terminal located at: 810 Lacson Avenue, Manila
tel. nos.  731 4473


Barangay Poblacion, Bontoc Road
tel. nos.   (  074 ) 386 4078
cellphone nos.  ( 0920 ) 305 1403
                         ( 0916 ) 545 9449
                         ( 0906 ) 719 7645

Bontoc Road, Banawe

1 comment:

  1. same here,.. i really love mt. province , esp. sagada, never tired of that place