September 25, 2023

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Benguet awarded rice wine making equipment to the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) of Barangay Naguey, an heirloom rice producing community, within the Atok ancestral domain, as instructional materials to be used by the Naguey Rural Improvement Club (NRIC) in teaching and passing on the age-old traditional process in tapey making.
“More than just your typical livelihood program to help ease the financial constraints of the IP communities, these sets of tools for tapey making were seen as NCIP-Benguet’s intervention to the enduring cultural drain of the IP youth brought by modernization and commerce,” according to NCIP Community Affairs Officer Genalyn Badival, also the project implementor
Badival recognizes while the tools may not substantially provide income, she is optimistic the simple gesture will provide an avenue for the IP community for an inter-generational exchange of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) with the IP youth.
Badival, who hails from Naguey and an IP youth herself, said the IKSP or traditional process makes the tapey exceptional. By equipping the IP community with the tools, they are indirectly providing an opportunity and channel for the IPs’ traditional tapey making to be passed on.
“We wish to unlock that repository of knowledge sealed within the minds of our elders by providing these equipment as a reason for them to impart how they are used in the tapey making process to the next generation,” Badival said.
“We also want to revive that distinctive taste which separates tapey from the ordinary wines,” she added.
She added this opportunity also intends to help the IPs’ IKSP be alive and relevant.
“Apart from blood, the IKSP, alongside the recognition and respect of the same, is a vital ingredient that makes us IPs. Absent our recognition and familiarity to our IKSP strips us of our identity. Just like tapey, absent any semblance of the age-old customary processing honed by centuries of experience reduces the quality and taste which distinguishes tapey from the rest of the rice wines,” said Badival.
According to wine aficionados, locally produced tapey, through the years, has lost its distinct taste, one that is identifiable only in a genuine tapey. Such taste can only be experienced in rice wines served in homes of IPs and weddings in the provinces.
This distinctive taste, called the “IP touch”, makes tapey unique. Even with locally produced wines from other provinces sold in the market, consumers can easily single out a genuine tapey by mere whiff of its aroma. This unique distinction of tapey may only be replicated if tapey producers follow the age-old process of traditional fermentation all the way to its storage using clay jars, locally called gusi.
One elder said aside from weddings, tapey serves as one of the key ingredients during ritual ceremonies. Never had the IPs viewed before that tapey will be subject for commerce. The purpose of tapey then was for self-consumption. It is only recently that we witnessed a shift on the purpose of the tapey from a household item for self-consumption and integral to the community’s daily life, towards a product now susceptible to appropriation and commerce.
The distinctive taste of tapey is what invited patrons outside the IPs’ boarders, which in turn, opened the concept of mass production. The IP community then unconsciously abandoned the tedious and conventional tapey making, rseducing its distinctive taste.
“Those who will be benefited from this awarding/turnover, aside from NRIC, are the IP community members, especially the IP youth, who will be extracting knowledge on traditional tapey making from their respective culture bearers,” Badival said.
The project was also made possible by the collective effort of NCIP Atok Community Service Center and all of its staffs.
The awarding of the tapey making tools is part of the NCIP-Benguet’s celebration of the International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples on Aug. 9.