July 19, 2024

Celebrating Baguio’s Charter Day on Sept. 1 and the Unesco Creative City declaration for folk arts and the crafts is always an opportune time for Cordillera inspired photo exhibits.

Baguio City as the melting pot of the diversity of the six provinces that make up this mountainous region entices visitors to venture into the other parts that are rich in customs and traditions.

Photojournalist Dave Leprozo Jr.’s, “A Glimpse of the Cordillera”, is one evidence to this vast and beautiful array of lifeways via 30 photographs at the SM Sunset Terraces area until the end of the month.

This piece takes time to browse the games that the young and old play in these parts during festivals.  

Ewik describes the excitement during the Bendiyan Festival of Kabayan, Benguet when the menfolk of the different villages catch the pig that would be offered to the ancestors to feed their barangays to celebrate the bountiful harvest of the municipality. This is unique to the area that invites tourists to join this annual tradition that showcases dances and games in the Poblacion. This game is an exciting part of the day long festivities that provide food for the residents and guests.

The Gagayam Festival of Sabangan, Mt. Province displayed many games the locals play but the handmade tops made for the youth are unique. This skill at spinning their handcraftedtop for the longest time is thrilling because these toys are not machine made with standard precision but with varied weights and sizes.

The strings that propel the wooden discs must be perfectly wrapped around the body to make it stand on its tip in perfect revolution. This is achieved with the familiarity and ability to employ some scientific dynamics on the object.

Tug-of-war is commonly played on lawns or beach fronts but during the Imbayah Festival in Banaue, Ifugao, the children play the game along the river. These children express the fun of engaging the other group by pulling a rope in opposite directions with the stronger hands and anchored legs able to outbalance the other. These games are not unique to the ethnic group but not played along the water system for many.

The “war dance” is some kind of skill that simulates a face-to-face battle with spears and shields. The children are caught suspended in air as they fake an encounter during the dramatization of the wars in the past. These express the native defense of the village’s sovereignty and independence of old. These dances are part of the stories told during the festival.

Only in the Ifugao Imbayah Festival can one see a group of men ride the wooden carts, each uniquely designed by their owner, that conveniently move down the slope driven by gravity and the weight of the rider. The race that rewards the fastest driver and cart is part of the festival. This shows the amateur engineering feat of the locals who have been constructing these carts for decades.

Many photographs of the beautiful destinations and faces of people in these parts of the country are in the narratives of Leprozo in the exhibit. These invite the wanderers to join the festivals that are scheduled in the summers hereabouts.

But most important are the traditional games that have been lost in many communities because of technology but remain part and parcel of the living traditions in the indigenous communities. — Nonnette C. Bennett