Find us on Google+ Love Mindanao: The Road to Favarey, Bontoc, Mountain Province | Life on Grains

The Road to Favarey, Bontoc, Mountain Province | Life on Grains

LM having a conversation with the IP carrying a 75 kilo of Fatawil

The discovery of the view of whole Maligcong Rice Terraces at Mt. Kofafey at the top of Ang Tong Faw gave us an overwhelming excitement that we've decided to go further and explore more of the vicinity of the not so famous community of Maligcong.

We asked our guide Ezra to bring us to the root community of Favarey located just below the towering rice terraces of Fang-arao. After taking a rest at Sitio Favuyan and one heavy veggie lunch, we strode the narrow paddies of Fuvun, Lay-yug and Magutok until we reached Fang-arao, the gateway to Favarey.

The Soul's Journey to Heaven

Crossing the small village of Fang-arao, we heard that an Igorot on her 30’s died the night before and a tribal wake was being held or should I say celebration of “death” of one of the members of the Igorot community.

Lolo Foanta, the last of the IP in Maligcong to practice
deep tradition of the Igorot

I have never seen the deceased but she was described to us that her body was placed inside the house, sitting on a chair, dressed on their traditional Igorot costume.

Outside of the house were the men of the village aggregating and chatting while the elder women were inside the house chanting their mourning songs like an ode for their departed family member.

I am not too familiar with Igorot culture but what stuck in my head was the strong scent of some kind of herbal plants that did not leave my senses and felt like it has crawled into my skin. I could feel my hairs standing every time the chants have gone louder and louder, then bang, a screeching cry from a boar echoed after an elder slit its neck and juicing out the blood out into the ground. It was morbid to see for an outsider like us but I could personally feel the solemnity of the ritual performed by the elders. Then there was silence.

Watch your step as sometimes the soil get loose (photo credit: Wind Trekker)

As we respect the unity of the community for their departed and wished not to disturb the rituals, we did not cross over the original path and diverted to another route to Favarey.

To Drink or Not to Drink is Not a Question!

The trail got narrower and narrower taking much of our energy and making us dehydrated with sun’s heat punishing us on a high noon. Thirsty as hell, we wondered on the potability of the  water dripping from a terrace wall which was an excess from one of the paddies of the rice terraces, .

If you have a weak stomach, bring your own water.
Longing to quench my thirst, I asked our guide where the water was coming from and told us that much of the water irrigating the whole rice terraces are from the springs of the mountain.Upon hearing it, I did not contemplate to fetch on directly using my palm then to my mouth. 

Wow the water was damn freezing cold and taste like… like… mmmm rice hays with combination of clay soil,  but tolerable. Stupid huh?  But at least our dehydration problem got solved.

Grumbling stomach? Nope, not a bit! Maybe I have a high tolerance over soil microorganisms to affect my body defense mechanism or maybe I am already immune to dirt as I live on it (?). 

Possible risks I could have think of were the pesticides and fertilizers applied on the rice field that could poison (?) me or at least make me sick instantly.

But what made me decide immediately to drink? It was already the harvest season and if ever there are pesticides applied, it have already worn out and carried downward to the foot of the mountain. Surprisingly, in Maligcong, NOBODY is using commercialized pesticides and fertilizers on their rice fields. The farmers apply the natural method to maintain the fertility of the soil using rotten weeds taken also from the same fields.

And since we were in a higher elevation, the least you could have worried is the fecal matter by which terraces here are free from settlements which are only concentrated  in sitios or villages at the foot of the mountain. What you can find at the terraces are the Arang or the granary to where the farmers store their harvested rice. This query is solved and so let’s drinks to that!

The view at the hilltop of the boundary between Favarey and Fang-arao

There's More Than Else Than The Great Green Grass of Favarey

Moving forward, we strolled on a rolling hill until the great green fields of Favarey revealed itself. Touching the unripe grains with my bare hands somehow connected a flash back of a thousand year old story that was unheard before.

Etag or salted preserved boar's meat
But that was just a feeling that I couldn't explain and the scent of sweet grass on air simply tells an incomprehensible holiness of the place.

We felt like the surrounding mountains of Favarey have keen eyes, watching our moves and a strike of single mistake felt like we will be thrown out of the village.

We were completely strangers stepping into an old village and we were wandering around on what seem like a ghost town. 

The community was obviously penetrated with modern type of living as very seldom you could find the traditional tribal wooden houses. 

Their deceased were traditionally buried in concrete tomb next to their houses or in the middle of the street. Some boars were in cages near to the community water source but some were freely moving around the village.
Shak-khod or carabao' horn displayed outside the house
We have seen also carabaos’ horns known as Shak-Khod, displayed in front of the houses. The number of horns indicates the number of weddings that were celebrated in that particular clan.

Khamo, the berry like fruit used in
fermenting Fayash or Basi.
Etag or preserved salted boar’s meat hangs around in some houses drying them out and ready for the family’s consumption.

It was also my first time to encounter Khamo, the berry like fruit used in fermenting the traditional and authentic Basi or known in the place as Fayash.

Tattooed old women are also seen in Favarey. Their tattoos were symbol of beauty and bravery. The designs were unique and intricate just like what I have seen from Lola Corazon Gamsawen or better known as Lola Chuma.

We stopped by on a “sari-sari” store and bought some instant “pancit canton” and requested the master of the house to cook it for us for extra payment but they refused to accept more than the price we were bound to pay. 

Lola Chuma, one of the remaining tattooed women of Maligcong
They have welcomed us and directed us to the top a hill where a solo century old pine tree stands majestically. It was another viewing deck where we had a bird’s eye view of the nearby rice terraces of Favarey. The site was just perfect to see the locals’ daily activity, planting, cleaning and weeding out the most treasured source of livelihood.

Stalks of palay sun dried to be soon transported
through Fatawil
Let That Old Folk Tales Live

We felt privileged in this short visit to the root of Maligcong’s civilization. How we wish we could have stayed longer to meet the indigenous people and immerse ourselves in the community. But that will be reserved on our next visit.

We traced back our trail to Favuyan wondering how the little Favarey became so isolated and yet branched out with so many sitios in Maligcong.

But thinking backwards, their isolation worked on their advantage to preserve the remaining authentic traditions compared to some residents of the new sitios that have been influenced by the so-called social development, where some got strayed looking for a different kind of progress.

My hope is that the people of Favarey continue to practice and preserve their forefathers culture and tradition and pass on to the next generations so their identity won’t be lost into thin air, just like what happened to other communities of IPs.
Organically treated rice field of Favarey, pounded by hands.

Too much modern life penetration and conversion to contemporary living may  result to lost of their identity and just like any folk tales it could now only be found on text books or worst untold and buried in secrets into the graves of their ancestors.

We returned to our accommodation in Favuyan with smiles on our faces and a feeling of triumph after learning so much from the under rated community of our country.

It always feels good to know our history and witnessing the old ways was a priceless experience.

We even treated ourselves with a little afternoon celebration, using the traditionally fermented wine Fayash or Basi courtesy of the master of the house.

If you wish to know how to get there, visit our previous post about Maligcong by clicking here.

Salasalamat Unay Favarey!
(Thank very much Favarey)

No comments :

Post a Comment