Friday, May 2, 2014

Traditional upland rice and cultural heritage preservation

Almugan, bird of omen among the Blaan tribe

Blaan women play vital role in upland rice farming

Bot tne ritual during the first Upland Rice Festival of Kihan back in 2005

Lamgi, a re-enactment of the upland rice planting
Traditional upland rice as a common cultural heritage is deeply ingrained in the belief systems and practices of the Blaan in Kihan. Their traditional knowledge is transferred from one individual to another individual (Emery, 2000).Traditional upland rice farming practices and cultural beliefs are distinct in each stage of the agricultural cycle. During the planting season, the farmers invoke the help of Dwata or Meleh through a ritual called mabah. The message is revealed through a wild fruit dove called almugan making a pleasing sound that must be heard through the left ear. This is to determine the suitability of the area for upland rice planting considering the position of the blatik (stars) known by the Blaan as samkyab and tubong. This is an illustration of a world view from an experience-based relationship with family, animals, places, spirits and the land (Emery, 2000). The Blaan have an elaborate ritual of ‘bot tne’ symbolizing the desire to have a good harvest. Planting is a major role done by the women. Their planting is initiated by chanting lamgi of slow to fast tempo while dibbling and placing rice seeds called bne right into the tiny dibbled hole. This is joyous and fun as old folks exchange lamgi chants. The most important variety in any upland rice farm is the mlikat lagfisan strategically planted in the middle of the rice field. This variety is considered to have the power and strength to protect the upland rice farm and give intellect to those who eat from it. During the harvest, an elaborate ritual of tuke fali is done beginning pandoman (thanks giving ceremony), amngawe (exchange of chants), and finally damsu (offering). Rice harvests vary with respect to the size of the farm, number of varieties planted and crop losses due to pest infestation. Their upland rice harvest is allocated for consumption of the household, seed keeping, payment for farm labor, for celebration, gifts and some reserved for special occasions. Those who have big farms and excess harvest sell their upland rice to the local market. The upland rice for consumption is dehulled manually by big mortar and pestle producing different color of rice, some are red, black, yellowish and some are brown .Different varieties produce different rice texture and aroma when cooked.

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