Monday, January 21, 2013

Ifugao Immersion Part 1

One of the many experiences of my cultural immersion in the Ifugao culture is how they process their rice.
Who knew I would explore something that has to do with rice and that I'd be blogging about it.
Believe me . . . it was very interesting . . .

This is inside the Ifugao traditional house that I stayed at.
The last level is the rice granary or the Palan (in their dialect) 
Harvesting season is between June to July which is also the start of the rainy season in the Philippines. The fireplace is strategically built just below the granary . . . so around this season, the heat or warmth of the fire helps dry the rice.

This is called Pa-ge (rice which is not pounded yet) on a winnowing tray or liga-u.

Step 1
Uluton, taking the grains from the stem.
The easiest step. 
Just look how focused I am.

I had an audience when I was doing this. One of the local women  was nice enough to teach and help us.

The finish product of first step

They don't throw the stems and instead it is used to make a broom.

It is then transferred to a huge mortar or Luhung.

No wonder Ifugao women have back/bone problems . . . seriously.

If there's a huge mortar, it should be partnered with a huge pestle
or Bayu (a heavy one I may add)
Step 2
Munbayu, the pounding of rice.
The goal is to have pestle hit the center of the mortar or else it will just pop out and could really get messy.
Photo 1: You see me really focused here. Holding my breath and biting my lip, praying I hit the middle.
Guess what??? Unsuccessful. ha ha ha
Photo 2: Can I just put the pestle right at the center without having to put a lot of effort of lifting it then pound it down? Of course, the answer is no he he he

Photo 1: an 8-year old girl showed me how to do it.
Photo 2: Seriously . . . she was good! Really good!

This video clip says how great she is!

The product of the first munbayu.

Then it goes back to the tray.
See? another back issue!

Step 3
Mun-to-op, taking out the shells using the winnowing tray.
We need to remove the shells of the rice or chugi.
They showed me how it should be done . . . of course the proper way.
You shake the tray to make sure the rice are at the center of the tray.
You toss it and instantly the shells would separate . . . maybe because of its weight.

Then you'll have chickens beneath you just waiting for a meal.

The way it should be . . .

Now it's my turn . . . and I must say . . . I did it MY WAY!!!
First try: FAILURE
Me: "I'm so scared I might throw everything so let's not try to move much"

Second try: 
Dandy: "Madam, you're tossing it right at your face"

Third try:
Me: "Oh no! it just goes back.I'm just tossing it up and down. It's not going anywhere"

Fourth try:
Chickens: "Are you kidding us? We're not getting anything. We're going to get hungry with you"

The product of Mun-tu-op

Step 4
We repeat Step 2.
This was a hard process. I did not bother to do it again as I don't want to waste any rice.
Here you'll see the nice woman who did half of the job. She was the mother of the 8-year old girl.
Dandy shared the labor.

They even did at the same time. It was amazing. You need strength, endurance, timing and training.

Here's the result.
Since the shells are a lot finer from the second pound, they call this upo which sometimes is collected to feed to the pigs.

Step 5
We repeat Step 3
So we go back to removing those shells one more time.
She made it look a lot easier as if she was just combing her hair.

The product. Bo-gah (pounded rice)
It's so nice to look at but it ain't over yet.
(a bundle is estimated to a  kilo to one and a half  kilo)

Step 6
We have to look for the grains that did not open.

Ota is what it's called. But they're just a few of them.

Step 7

It took us 1 hour and 40 minutes to finish the whole process but I bet the locals don't take this long. 
They plant and harvest this and use it for their consumption. That's why I have high regards for farmers and I did not want to waste the grains because I couldn't do the task right. 
They pound grains only on what they can consume for that day. 

I am most thankful to the Ifugao locals, Dandy, the mother and daughter who educated me on this and to the Lapawon family who provided the things I needed during my stay. 
I just wore their Ifugao traditional clothes he he he

We were hungry after this. Good thing, we did not have to cook it and we got breakfast waiting for us. I ate every piece of rice. Knowing they do this manually in this village. 
They made me bring the red rice back home *=)



Hahaha it was an adventure to go there. Trek trek trek trek. Night trek. Trek while raining. at kung anu ano pa! But all worth it! Try doing! Did I answer your question? or iba ang tanong mo?

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