“Batang Batad” Turns 3!

12 07 2015

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-A Birthday Community Outreach-

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Batad, Banaue, Ifugao, Cordillera

Luzon, Philippines

It all started with one volunteer, my two friends – J for the 1st year and C for the 2nd year.

Then got tripled three times this year! Yes, nine of us went to Cordillera for the birthday community outreach dubbed as “Batang Batad 2015”. Wasn’t it the best gift ever? They spent their weekend with the kids of Batad!!

BEFORE THE OUTREACH. While waiting for Lilian with the sorbetes ordered direct from Lagawe to Batad, we decided to do the Banaue tour. First stop was the trial of the local wooden scooter, then to Banaue Viewpoint where I met the local women who loves saying “Wacky! Wacky!” Then we went shopping and had some cultural awareness at Banaue Museum. Then more shopping at Tam-an Village where the local Ifugao house is showcased. Tam-an Village is just beside Banaue Hotel.

ON OUR WAY TO BATAD. While I was busy coordinating with some more logistics like picking up the spaghetti ordered from Las Vegas Restaurant, the other volunteers excitingly went on top of the chartered jeepney for their ‘topload’ experience. Grateful moment was the time we started walking on foot for more than 1 hour with the goodies loaded by each one of us from the saddle.

OUTREACH PROPER. Without having eaten our lunch, we started setting up at 12n since kids were mushrooming around. We handed the spaghetti and drinks then the much awaited sorbetes. It was their first time to see and tasted a real local ice cream in the country. For the locals, their “ice cream” is solely the “ice candy” inside a square-shape styropor. The experience didn’t stop there. They too had movie time with a projector set-up by the Tostados boys – B1, B3 and B4. We were supposed to play “Rio” but movie didn’t work out. Good thing that B4 was ready with his “Avengers”.

While the kids were watching the movie, we indulged ourselves for lunch. It was almost 3pm. Then we started repacking the goodies inside a classroom. The whole area became like a “repacking assembly line”. It was a smooth process spearheaded by the ladies – Cath, Emerald, Jonine, Lianne, Migs.  Kids who rendered a song, a poem or who even won the “Bring Me” game got a bag or two. Of course, Lianne didn’t get any bag although she has shown us her dance moves right in front of the kids!

I was in awe when the teacher mentioned “Bring me a kuto!”.  It helped me gain a better perspective for the next Batang Batad in 2016 since lice infestation seemingly was common.

AFTER THE OUTREACH. As part of my Thanksgiving to the volunteers, I decided to invite the two remaining mumbakis in the village. The mumbakis are the Ifugao religious specialist who says prayers and does rituals to various deities specially after a rice harvest. They offer chicken. They chant memorized lines, oral traditions, stories and lineages that are passed on from generations to generations in a rhythmic tone. They only pause when they share tapuy, the local rice wine and when they refill chewing betel nut and leaves called “nga nga” or “moma”.

Uncle Simon’s Viewpoint Inn wrapped up our day.

MORE SIDETRIPS. B1, B3 and B4 game me “fried pusit” (squid) for breakfast. I then became brave enough to take everyone at the Viewpoint, the highest point where one could both see the whole rice terraces and the saddle. I may say that Ifugao Rice Terraces was a phenomenal trekking on the rice paddy coupled by the descent to Tappiya Waterfalls.

Lilian, the local contact hosted our lunch with her tinolang manok. Thanks to the mumbaki who gave us one of the two chickens used for their ritual. After walking around 600meters for our backpacks at Uncle Simon’s Viewpoint Inn, we all decided to go back to the saddle. Since we were one hour early than the agreed time for the chartered jeepney, all of us consumed the tapuy from the locals. It was an afternoon “tagayan” or alcohol drinking session.

BACK TO BANAUE. Maybe because of the alcohol spirit and not the deities of the mumbakis, we decided to go “topload” on our way back to Banaue.

I may say that this year marked the birth of a new friendship – the “Mumbeki gang” – no one else but – Cath, Emerald, Jonine, Lianne, Migs, B1, B3 and B4.

*1) To some countries, “Bata” is a brand of shoes or a city in Equatorial Guinea. But “bata” in Filipino language means “kid” or children. Hence, Batang Batad means Batad child. Batad is a village in Banaue, Ifugao, Cordillera region. This is known to be the UNESCO Heritage Site location of the amphitheatre rice terraces at 1,100m elevation. 2) sorbetes is a local ice cream in the country made from coconut milk and peddled by street hawkers. 3) kuto is a louse or wingless insect. h

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