From: Arthur B Butic
Crossing from Mainland?
I'm a native of Lagawe & Kiangan, Ifugao. I read your piece on the
Banaue Rice Terraces. Banaue occupies the northeast of Ifugao, Mayoyao in the northeast, Kiangan in the southwest and Lagawe & Hingyon in the central area. All of these municipalities have rice terraces though Banaue is the best known. The Bontocs on the other side of the Cordillera have Maligcong.
I like the overview and the tone of your piece. However, one
speculation - that the Ifugaos and Bontocs probably came across from
mainland Asia by land bridges may be too speculative. In Kiangan and
Lagawe, we have a huge sturdy outdoor furniture used as a table during feasts or bench at other times, about 15 feet long. It is called a "hagabi" and resembles a boat. As kids, we used to play a simple game in the rivers called "haggabi" simulating the up and down of a boat as it advances over the waves. Only the richest families can afford to have one hewn for them from a single huge tree. It's construction was accompanied by weeks of feasts all at the expense of the rich "kadangyan" couple. I have a picture of it in a 1912 copy of National Geographic. My grandma had one under her native house and there were not that many around.
What it suggests to me is that the "hagabi" evolved from their boat
crossing. Owning a boat in ancient times probably was the ultimate
status symbol as the "hagabi" became to my ancestors up to the late 19th century. Their moving up to the highlands may indeed be for the safety of the interior. However, numerous attempts by Father Villaverde to coax them down to Nueva Vizcaya (Ibung) failed because less "affluent" folks who were convinced to move down quickly died of malaria. Ifugao was the northwestern part of the Commandancia de Nueva Vizcaya at that time.
I therefore submit that the speculation that my ancestors crossed by
land bridges is less credible than them making the crossing by boats and better left unsaid. If you wish, you may replace it with my speculation which has some circumstantial support.
Arthur B Butic,
Picture of Hagabi
attached. I painted out the image of man a man at the right end for clarity.
My guess at why we moved up the mountains is that we came from a similar
environment in the mainland - forests, plenty of running water, malaria
free, cooler temperatures, easily defensible terrain.