In a display of color and tradition, residents from barangays Hapao, Baang, and Nungulunan in Hungduan, Ifugao traversed the rice terraces, forming a line, towards the Hapao River while reciting local chants for the bountiful harvest.
On Aug. 1, which marked the end of the harvest season, the Punnuk festival was celebrated to highlight a season of thanksgiving and cleansing rites after a bountiful harvest.
During the festival, traditional games were played amidst the strong current of the river where the youth in the community enjoyed the bultong (wrestling), ginuyod (tug-of-war) and upuhan (underwater breathing competition), after the munggopah of each group recites a verse imploring the gods for blessing for a successful cultural rite.
As the games closed, the kina-ag, a hand-crafted human figure made of bundled goyami or rice stalks and embellished with leaves of the dong-a plant, is tossed to the river as a sign that a successful punnuk was just held from upstream towards downstream communities.
A dupag is performed by a mumbaki (high priest) with chants and prayers seeking divine blessings after a bountiful harvest while rice wine (bayah) is blessed and shared among the community and guests, an event that marks the official celebration of the punnuk. Food is prepared and shared for the community and visitors.
The local government unit of Hungduan has proposed the institutionalization of the punnuk as an annual festival for thanksgiving and cleansing after a bountiful harvest in Hapao, Baang and Nungulunan. – Dave Leprozo