The Philippine pride Banaue Rice Terraces was bedecked with much merriment and excitement as Ifugaos celebrated the 10th Imbayah festival. The Imbayah is celebrated once every three years to give thanks to the bounty and blessings the Ifugao receives through the years from the divine Providence.
The festival hosted plenty of tribal and native sports to show their deep respect for their rich culture and tradition. The festival started their major events last April 26 and commenced brightly on the 29th. The festival is a nine-day-affair which kick starts last April 17 with a merry making, dancing and chanting all night long. Imbayah festival is traditionally a celebration of rice which is the main produce of the people in the Cordillera Region in their dubbed stairway-to-heaven Rice Terraces. The famed extraordinary rice paddies had been hailed worldwide as one of the Eight Wonders of the World earning global respect and recognition on the Ifugao‚Äôs ingenuous craftsmanship, resourcefulness and hard work. Despite their lack of flat lands to cultivate their staple food rice, they invented a means of carving on the mountainside rice paddies which resembles a stairway that seems to reach out to the heavens.
Visiting local and foreign tourists were delighted to witness and be a part of various events including an ethnic parade with street dancing, a rice wine tasting contest, ‚Äúhicha‚Äù (public lunch), backstrap weaving, and ethnic games competition. There were also street dancing, wood carving presentations, and musical performances, which will also feature indigenous instruments. Games of indigenous Ifugao origin enthralled the crowd including ‚Äúbuttuan‚Äù which is a marathon wherein racers wear the traditional Ifugao ‚Äúbahag‚Äù or colourful g-string styled loincloth. Amateur boxing and taekwondo tournaments, an exhibition game of volleyball in loincloth, catching of greased pig and another cultural dance, music, instrument presentation were also featured events. The highlight of the festivity was the wooden scooter race, which is uniquely founded only in Banaue.
Imbayah reflects the rich and colorful history of the Ifugao people. By celebrating it, old natives hope that they could preserve the culture and pass it down to the younger generation in order to continue the culture that had been uniquely theirs. Imbayah is a celebration that calls for Ifugao unity, pride and respect for their roots that despite that advent of ensnaring acculturation, they are still able to preserve the culture that had nurtured them through the years. To the Ifugaos, our salute and a cheery Mabuhay to your Imbayah!