By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
BUGUIAS, Benguet — The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) representative during the graduation of two schools of living traditions (SLT) here challenged the students to pursue their passion to learn and preserve their cultural crafts because in the future students will be the masters of their craft.Two SLTs namely Balili, Sebang Buguias, Benguet SLT on Kankana-ey tapuey making implemented by Balili, Sebang Community Association Inc. (BSCAI); and Dontog, Poblacion, Buguias SLT on kaka-iw binubudan implemented by Dontog Neighborhood Association (DNA) graduated 60 students on their 1st phases.
According to Maria Crisedna Magsumbol, project development officer of NCCA who was monitoring the graduation, she was very happy to see that the purpose of SLT is really implemented in the two specific projects.
She appreciated the fact that most of the students are children. She added that if you are to preserve the tangible and non-tangible aspects of culture, you should teach it to the children.
It was also shared by Cony C. Dangpa Subagan, project consultant of the two SLTs that the students at first did not realize the importance of protecting and preserving their culture until they joined the SLT preparatory phase.
Then during phase 1 of the SLT, the reason of most students to join was their interest to learn more about their culture. Magsumbol then challenged the students to apply their newly earned skill not only in the community but also as livelihood. This according to her will help them introduce in the market that they in Buguias are also producing tapuey.
During the graduation, the students demonstrated the process in making tapuey while the cultural masters were explaining. It was a general observation that although the students were not yet experts, they had produced good tapuey which was served after the demonstration.
Kankanaey Tapuey (rice wine)
Tapuey to the kankanaeys in Buguias is very important. According to Cecilia Ket-eng, one of the cultural masters who is already more than 70 years old, in every celebration or ritual in the community, tapuey is served. She recounted that when she was young, rice is scarce because their land is not suitable for planting rice. Thus, she said when they were lucky enough to harvest rice, it was stored for the purpose of tapuey alone. Unlike other communities in the Cordillera wherein rice is the staple food, theirs is kamote (sweet potato).
On the other hand, it was jokingly told by Bryan Camhit, the Ibaloi, Kankana-ey representative to NCCA after the demonstration that in every community in the Cordillera, nobody has displayed the usual drunken violence with tapuey as compared to gin. He added that a person who is drunk with tapuey will only get drowsy until eventually falls asleep.
Moreover, tapuey is organic. All the ingredients are found in the environment. It does not have any preservatives or chemical content thus according to the cultural masters, it doesn’t have a bad effect on the health. It’s main ingredient is sticky rice which will be half cooked then put in a rattan container called the biga-o to cool down before sprinkling the fermenting agent called bubod.
The bubod is also processed in the community. It’s main ingredient is also sticky rice, pulverized and mixed with inwad, a kind of herb abundant here. The rice with inwad now will be mixed with enough water for it to be molded into a cookie. Then it will be dried for four to five days.
After sprinkling the bubod on top of the half cooked rice, the biga-o will be sealed with banana leaves and left for one and a half day before putting all of it in a jar they call kuli and let it fermented there for three days or more depending on the temperature. The warmer, the faster fermentation.
However, the rice fermented in the biga-o for one and a half day can be eaten by children in the community.
Furthermore Paterno Ata, one of the cultural masters said, as much as they want their students to produce good tapuey, the problem is they do not have enough kuli. “In fact the kuli we are using were borrowed from the community,” he said adding that they cannot afford to buy the said kind of jar because it’s very expensive.
He said tapuey is better when it is fermented in the kuli compared to that fermented in plastic containers. “Gapu siguro ta awan ti chemical content na jay kuli,” Ata added.
Problems of sustainability
One of the indicators of an SLT’s success according to Magsumbol is how the community sustains the project even without NCCA’s funding. She revealed that NCCA can only fund in the maximum an SLT until it’s 3rd phase. She added that there are only few SLT’s that were sustained. “We notice that without the fund coming from the commission, the SLT dies naturally,” she said.
She, however gave recommendations on how these SLT’s can be sustained.
She first mentioned close ties with local government units (LGU), non government organizations (NGO) who are interested in said project, and others who can help in the continuity of activities. However, there were comments from the community that the LGU is not putting cultural programs in their priority.
Second, she mentioned of the community’s plan of how to replenish the resources needed for the craft. She said this as she observed that this is a major problem in tapuey making because rice cannot grow here.
Third is for the community to develop a product development and marketing program. She told them that there is no doubt that the tapuey produced by the students is good but how to make the product marketable should be planned.
She stressed the importance of packaging or how to make the product attractive in the eyes of the consumers. She added that there should also be a continuing enhancement of the product.
Finally, she said SLT cannot be sustained without the support of the whole community. # nordis.net