Issue of September 19, 2021
Mt. Province

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‘Ahi-bakle’ ritual conducted, marks end of Ifugao harvest
by Jude C. Baggo

Traditional rice agricultural rituals persist in Kiangan, Ifugao even during the pandemic. Recently, community members, cultural, and heritage conservation advocates participated in the ahi-bakle that marks the end of the harvest season in the agricultural calendar of the Hapuwan Ifugaos.

The event was organized and hosted by the Save Ifugao Terraces Movement (Sitmo) and the Indigenous Peoples Education Center in Kiangan.

Ahi-bakle commences with the danglot ritual by a mumbaki as thanksgiving to the gods of rice for good harvest.

As a celebration of good harvest, women participated in the pounding of dayakkot (glutinous rice), winnowing, mixing its ingredients such as sugar, coconut, and roasted sesame seeds then wrapping the dough using banana or rattan leaves before being placed in a pot for steaming.

Men prepared and cooked tinawon rice and butchered chickens for lunch. The cooked binakle is shared among the people.

Children also participated in dancing, singing, and observing the different processes of ahi-bakle.

Dr. Eva Marie Codamon-Dugyon, Ifugao State University president, sees these opportunities as a positive engagement of the university and the community.

“The participation of IFSU during this ahi-bakle is in line with our vision to promote the rich cultural heritage of our people. We believe that in these challenging times, it is appropriate to maximize our positive values and practices as pathways for survival while keeping our traditions alive,” Dugyon said.

“One of the challenges during this pandemic is its impacts to community life. It limited mobility and performances of practices due to health protocols. The conduct of ahi-bakle is a testament that even in pandemic, our people can practice their traditions while observing health protocols and standards,” said Eulalie D. Dulnuan, director for IFSU Ifugao Rice Terraces as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System Center.

Ruben  Gumangan, a local indigenous knowledge holder, said, “The essence of bakle is a thanksgiving to Maknongan for abundant harvest and invoking his blessings for another rice cycle. It also means sharing of blessings among the people in the community.”

Marlon M. Martin, Sitmo Chief Operations Officer, believes the performance of bakle is an important aspect in transmitting these indigenous knowledge, systems and practices to the younger generation.

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