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Traveling through foods and finding a head hunter

Traveling through foods and finding a head hunter

December 2019 · 8 min read · Ifugao

One of my teachers in elementary taught about traveling through books when we learn a lot about different places and cultures without leaving our seats. I remember about the phrase "travel through books" when we stopped by for lunch from our outreach in Batad and on our way back to Metro Manila. "Travel through foods," I thought.

The establishment is called People's Lodge and Restaurant. The entrance seem nothing fancy and just your ordinary eatery in the neighborhood. However, the interior offers more to explore than foods. I wrote a Tasteem review of the restaurant but there are more to discover in this hidden place. It is like travelling to a space with old times on the left side and modern times on the right. It is also like a museum with nothing in particular for a subject. Join me and let us explore further.

Before reaching the dining area, diners will have to pass by souvenir shops on both sides of the hallway. To the left is this wooden chair.

At the back of the wooden chair are shelves of more souvenir items which some are made of either wood or rattan.

Since the place is in a mountainous area, one of the common products they have are wooden and rattan crafts like these.

Mother and child

Assorted wooden carving; The man carrying a deer on his shoulders depict a hunter figure.

Rattan basket

To the right of the hallway to the dining area is another display of souvernir items but more on modern apparell this time.

Directly facing the entrance is this wooden bench that is fully polished.

At the back of the wooden bench are more wooden crafts with a foreign touch because of the Buddha sculpture. Certainly, the Buddha is not a Filipino icon.

Beside the Buddha is this tree trunk of branches which I thought was candle holder. I asked one of the crew if it is indeed candle holder and she said no. It is egg holder. What? Egg!?!

To the right while facing the Buddha and the egg holder is a table with this postcard stand. You need not go far or find a bookstore to find a postcard for sending back home if you are a tourist, specially a foreigner.

Right pass by the Buddha and postcard tables is the dining area. The restaurant is in the mountain so I was not expecting
decorations or ornaments. To my surprise, I was wrong.

The tables were fully decorated with center pieces. These were artificial flowers but did not immediately reveal themselves until I touched and checked on them.

To the left overhead and is directly hovering the dining area is this wooden sculpture of The Last Supper. It is common to see The Last Supper, either sculpture or poster, in a Catholic family's kitchen.

Across The Last Supper on the other end is the mirrored wall with two panels. At first, I thought the wall looked cluttered with curtains for nothing but mirror and too much paintings on the mirror. On a second thought, why cluttered? The wall is just fully adorned. Look at it that way.

Here is one panel. Try to find and catch the fishes. Or at least count and let me know how many are there.

According to the Bible, fish represents Jesus. According to Feng Shui, a fish represents wealth and prosperity.

And here is the other panel. I love the seven horses. While I am noy conscious about astrology, I was told that seven galloping horses symbolize success. And now that I am reminded of it that I searched the internet.

A painting of seven horses means financial stability. If you keep it in an office it can also lead to quick promotion to higher levels.
If you place the painting of seven horses in the living or near the entrance it can bring in wealth and good luck.

Below The Last Supper to the right are old photos and clippings from a book Ten Southeast Asian Tribes From Five Countries quoted to be written by a certain David Howard. This corner is the most intriguing of all. It has excerpts from the book regarding ways of living of people in the region from long time ago which really seem amusing. I captured three of them.

The Living

In a tropical environment where walls and doors are quite unnecessary, the indigenous architectural style of dwellings, temples and outdoor spaces is open and free-flowing. Each house is constructed with materials gathered locally by the inhabitants; living area within the huts are separated by nothing more than small partitions. But where Westerners might feel a loss of their privacy and individual rights, these people feel only the absence of fear and selfishness.

Photo caption: Six Ifugao females; Tam-an village, Banaue

Between Life and Death

In a land where nature and culture combined to create a benevolent, nurturing reality, even the basic means of sustenance have been elevated to a high art. Foremost among these art forms are the rice terraces, the product of over four thousand years of continual and loving labor. Painstakingly dug out of the nearby hillsides and constantly reinforced with thousands of stones, the rice paddies of the headhunters are suspended above the landscape like rivers in the sky.

The tribes people have little awareness or appreciation of the aesthetic value of these structures, and regard them as a utilitarian means of subsistence. However, the conceptual and aesthetic genesis of these giant earthen forms is really more akin to that of the Egyptian pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and contemporary Western Environmental Art Forms.

Stone by stone, season by season, generation after generation, the rice terraces have been excavated, filled and shored up once again for continual reuse by future generations.

The rice terraces today

The Head Hunters

The headhunter people of the Philippines have never experienced material affluence in the Western sense of the word. Their social and political economy operates completely without typical Western mechanisms of cultural change, such as use of paper currency, the displays of conspicuous consumption and the universal coveting of other people's goods. Instead, the focus of tribal values is entirely on social and moral relations. Generosity and openness to strangers, compassion for all the people of the community, and a fierce sense of honor and personal integrity are universally-held traits among these people. The sharp contrast between the high moral integrity of the headhunter tribes of the mountains and the westernized corruption of the people of the modern regions of the islands is both paradoxical and ironic.

Photo caption: Kalinga head hunter with head hunting tattoo; Tulgao Village, Kalinga
Note: Kalinga and Ifugao are two separate provinces thus different tribes.

There is a website mentioned on the clippings so I checked and knew more about David Howard. I am not sure when he did his research in Ifugao but the book was published in 2008.

Pass the historic and trivial corner is the door to the terrace. The dining area is fairly spacious but the terrace gave more to what seemed doubling the interior dining. Some of our fellow volunteers actually occupied two tables in the terrace as they prefer the open air.

I went out to the terrace to see how it was and noted a map on the wall behind one of the tables that our fellows occupied. I positioned the camera towards the map and all the volunteers turned and smiled at me. I laughed amd they followed. Okay, I took a shot of them.

Even if this was really my target.

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Overlooking out of the terrace is another sight to behold which I did not expect. I was expecting small rice terraces but this big structure came into view. Most villages have small school and other facilities. To see this very big school behind the common establishments was a total surprise. "The modernized mountain," I thought.

To the left of the view is a glimpse of rice terraces behind the houses. The terraces still look majestic in spite of the little blocks in front.

The view from the terrace is amazing and really cool. No wonder why people would want to dine outside with the relaxing view.

That was one unique tour of a restaurant that I ever had. Seeing local products and learning more about the locals were big bonuses of just stopping by to have lunch and be gone.

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