A Humble Culture

The culture of the Igorots is very different from the modern society nowadays. If compared to the technological and innovative enhancements throughout history, one may consider their culture as strange or bizarre.  I wouldn’t say that their culture is a backwards culture or a society with no major influential contributions in the world because their culture is indeed rich in tradition and history that is passed on from each generation of the Ifugaos.  There are several rituals they follow and different livelihoods like planting, weaving, and carving enabling them to sustain their families that are both played by both men and women.

One of the most notable contributions of the Igorots are their skills in planting, particularly ensuring the rice fields or “payos” are rich and fertile. Though it seems like a simple livelihood it actually entails a great amount of patience, endurance and genuine care for the environment. Many women in Ifuagao know how to plant and help their husbands take care of the land that was given to them by their “ninunos” or “ancestors.” They live by overseeing that the plants have proper growth by consistently tilling the soil, removing weeds and ensuring no pests destroy their crops. It is a communal effort among all the Igorots to take care and sustain the land that was given to them. It is who they are and it is their identity as a small community. Both women and men play a great role in sustaining their rice fields mainly because they both have the same goal to feed their families. However aside from planting and cultivating the rice fields, women do not usually help the men in the creation of the barriers od the Banawe Rice Terraces because of physical constraints. They do not have the capacity to carry rocks and dig the heavy soil to build the terraces given the simple tools. At the same time, control the great force and pressure of the water to control its flow to the rice terraces. However, they still do continue to help in the smallest way they can especially in crafting and helping in the household.

 

Their creation of handmade crafts like weaven cloth and carved ornaments is also a common livelihood among the Igorots. Many women use these skills to allow them to contribute to the earnings of the family most especially during the sunny season. During this season, their husbands usually travel allowing them to be left in the households to take care of the children, oversee the cultivation of the rice fields and also help earn through their hand crafted ornaments. One of the common uses of weaven cloth is for it be used as blankets, skirts and decorations for the tourists. Also commonly carved ornaments is the “bulol” which is used during the rituals to be offered to the gods and spirits for better harvest, health and other needs.

Women were also prominent during rituals and celebrations because they are considered part of the community. Celebrations to give honor and gratitude to their gods include dances and performances by both men and women.  They also are present during rituals in which they chant songs for a successful harvest season or for a death of a loved one.

Though they may not have the same physical capacity as men, they actually play an essential role in the Ifugao community and culture. Women take care of the households and support their husbands that allow them to use their willingness to serve and sacrifice out of love for the family. They also are not just merely helpers tasked to do chores, but they also try to increase the income of the family through handmade woven cloth and carved ornaments. Women are indeed part of the Ifugao culture as they are also included during rituals, performances and celebrations. Their culture is just not regarding the division of tasks between man and woman but it is indeed a communal effort among everyone in the community as each and everyone tries to sustain the camaraderie and simplicity of their culture.

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