By KIMBERLIE NGABIT QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — In the launching of the book: The Heirloom Recipes of the Cordillera, Judy Fangloy, of the Partners for Indigenous Knowledge-Philippines (PIKP) said that food is gift that people should be thankful for and should share with family and community.
She explained that in the indigenous culture the milestones in a person’s lifetime are marked with ritual feasts shared with all.
“Prayers are said to give thanks for the bounty of the land which continuously provides nourishment for the generations. The food nourishes not only the body, but the spirit, the community, the race,” Fangloy said.
The said book, launched in Baguio City on March 26, is a compilation of 100 indigenous Cordillera recipes documented from the six provinces of the region. It has seven chapters: Rice, Roots, Vegetables, Fish Crabs And Snails, Meat, Preserves, and Drinks. It is a project of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples (TFIP) and PIKP.
The book was earlier launched in Sagada, Mountain Province on March 22.
The book featured age old recipes passed on from generation to generation and tell stories of how these were made in olden days.
The making of binakle (rice and/or camote cakes) of the Ifugaos for example is a family activity which is usually prepared at night after the evening meal. It will serve as breakfast the following day and leftovers will be packed as snacks for the day while working the fields.
On reflecting of the Cordillera IP culture, Fangloy said the recipes have undergone changes from generation to generation but has essentially remained the same. She said that the ingredients come from the land and waters of the indigenous territories in the region. “They are fresh, natural, packaging free and simply delicious,” she said.
The ingredients include grains, root crops, plants (stem, shoots and fruits), fish, crabs and snails, domestic animals and those from the wild including insects.
Fangloy said the variety of ingredients show the IPs deep connection with the land. She said they know when to plant and when to harvest and when to hunt and forage for the various ingredients in tune with mother earth’s seasons and cycles.
“From careful observation and experience, the people learned when is the best time to plant seeds and when to harvets. They know when and how to catch the fish; gather the snails, crabs, frogs and tadpoles from the waters; and collect the edible mushrooms,” Fangloy said.
Fangloy said people today can learn valuable lessons from the Cordillera heirloom recipes. She said that today people are getting disconnected from the land, the source of their food and food is getting farther away from nature, it is getting more processed.
She said that the heirloom recipes value natural food mindfully gathered and prepared so that nothing is wasted and that others can have their share. She added that the book also features the IPs “creativity and resourcefulness in working with simple ingredients and cooking implements, and working within the limits of what is available”.
Rita Papey, a nutrition program coordinator of the National Nuntrition Council Cordillera, in her book review said the book is a “valuable piece of work”. She said that the book has not only documented heirloom recipes but has given a glimpse of Cordillera community life in earlier generations. “It shows appreciation of the creativity of our ancestors and gives information to the modern day Cordillerans of the kind of diet and community life our ancestors had,” she said.
Papey said the recipes in the book can also be used as reference for the present efforts of promoting healthier food options in the region. “The changing dietary patterns of the Cordillerans brought about by the increasing availability and accessibility of processed calorie dense foods through the food grocery chains plus the technological advancements resulting to sedentary lifestyles contributed to the increasing problem of overweight and obesity among all age groups,” she said.
Papey said many of recipes included in the book can be included in the list of healthier food options the nutrition council is promoting to combat over-nutrition.
Papey further said that the book may have not elucidated the fact that the Cordillera community life revolves largely in the rice cycle, the book included more than 20 heirloom recipes made from rice already highlighted the importance of rice among Cordillerans. She mentioned that in Ifugao, seasons are named based on the rice cycle: ahi gaud (pre-planting season); ahi tunod (planting season); ahi kaogoko (weeding of rice plant); ahi ani (harvest time). “The terms are of the Tuwali (particularly Kiangan) but I am sure there are equivalents in all Cordilleran ethnic groups,”she said.
The book will again be launched at the Mount Cloud bookstore here in Baguio City on April 20, Saturday. # nordis.net