Imbayah festival: A renewal of tradition
During the chapoy on the 7th and 8th days, people harvest sugarcane for use in the bayah, and the sugarcane is processed for the community. The 9th day is called ila, when two folks are sent out to call the relatives of the couple. On the 10th day, the gotad is celebrated and the community comes out with all their rice wine in earthenware and heirloom jars.
Ten pigs and a pair of carabaos are butchered and blessed by the mumbaki, or Ifugao high priests, and shared among the community as a symbol of their offering to the gods. The head of the pigs and carabaos are separated and cooked to the bare bones by the mumbaki on the 12th and 13th days, respectively. The head bones become decoration in the couple’s house, symbolizing their stature in the village.
Bayah is the center of the socialization among the Ifugaos, according to Carmelita Mondiguing, chairman of the Cordillera Tourism Council. It was her brother, the late Banaue Mayor Adriano Apilis Jr, who initiated the first Imbayah Festival in 1979.
“We realized that due to booming tourism, the Ifugaos were beginning to forget their culture and traditions. The festival aims to remind them of the importance of preserving them,” Mondiguing said.
The Imbayah Festival, which was held in late April, was highlighted by a vibrant parade and street dancing participated in by 19 barangays. Participants donned their ethnic attire, showcasing the evolution of the Ifugao costume from the use of tree barks to the present use of the cotton woven clothes.
A cultural renewal was actually started early February, with 9 towns of Ifugao promising they would encourage a rebirth of a dying cultural heritage, especially among the Ifugao youth who now would rather go to urban centers for greener pastures.
Various Ifugao traditions are being celebrated until August.