Friday, 25 May 2012

The Natonin Sas-alliwa

The 5th Natonin Sas-alliwa (2012).

Towards the end of April I attended a 'Na'to' summit, or more precisely a nangato nga summit. This was off the slopes of Mt Amuyao in Mountain Province. This nato (nangato) event is called the Sas-Alliwa, a festival. This has nothing to do with that organization in the north atlantic, but more to do with the hot weather this recent summer in Mainit. There were heat waves for a couple of weeks in the Philippines last April, and I had heard of this ‘Natongnin’ (cold) place. For some days I had been feeling hot and bothered, so I decided to visit this town Natongnin to cool down.

Natonin is a landlocked municipality in Mountain Province located about 90 kilometres east of Bontoc. It is bounded on the north by the province of Kalinga, on the south by the province of Ifugao, on the east by the  Paracelis, and on the west by Barlig. The municipality is typically mountainous with rugged thick woodland forests characterized by steep to moderate slopes. Many of the villages are situated on the southern slopes of the cordillera mountain range, but some are also isolated up in the jungle-clad high mountains.The constructed roads follow the location of most of the bigger villages lining the higher extents of the magnificent terraced ricefieldsThese largely undeveloped road networks are impassable in the rainy seasons. 
The rains were still a few weeks out, so I took the chance to take in some of sights of Natonin, not from some distant na'to summit, but from up close, right in the midst of the nasam-it - the sweet smell of newly planted rice seedlings.
Looking south to Balangao and beyond to the upper Sifu river in the distance, proposed site of a mini-hydro power project. (We might revisit that project later).

The rice terraces in Apatan and Tongalayan are representative of the beauty and grandeur of the fields carved by hand  from the mountain sides by the Natonin Igorots.

The fifth Sas-Alliwa Festival was at its height when I arrived there in the evening of the 24th. On the culmination of festival activities the following day, I had the privilege to watch the locals perform their many native dances in a street dancing spectacle.

The ‘Sas-Alliwa” means homecoming, and municipal officials over recent years have encouraged the I-Natonin to come home on this occasion, and to reunite in celebration. They have also extended open invitaion to visitors to see the beauty of the place, experience the richness of their culture, and meet the friendly locals.

I was quite fortunate to get an invite (as a saling-pusa on this sas-alliwa) to a private dinner with local officials. It was a treat of a feast! They even invited me again for the next morning: Umale a ta man Mattomnin ta, but I declined politely, saying I was warm enough sleeping in. If only I understood the local tongue, I might have been good for a right royal hearty breakfast! 
The street dancing parade on the morning of the25th, the final day of the festival, was a highlight.
This street dancing was the creme de la creme of the Sas-alliwa festival celebrated in Poblacion, Natonin.  Each barrio sent delegates to the festival. 

Unknown dance
Dancers performed to different gong styles such as the ‘hapor’ and the ‘penawangwang’. 



Unknown dance

Here's a 'faulty' video clip of the 2012 Sas-alliwa street dancing in youtube.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The road to Barlig

Sights along the mountain trail in Barlig, Mountain Province, in the Philippine Cordillera, April 2012.
I have been to many parts of my home region of the Cordillera. However there are as many places that I have not seen, nor been to, for many a year. During this past period of a few weeks, I have ventured to visit, or revisit, some of the wonderful and most beautiful spots – the villages and natural features that define this mountainous fastnesses we call home.

First up is Barlig where apparently one can hear the whisper of the wilderness (let me hear it - wow). Barlig in the central east of the province is surrounded by Kalinga on the north, ifugao on the south, on the west by Bontoc, and on the east by Natonin. It is a mere 30 kilometers away from Bontoc but vehicular travel on the narrow and rough mountain roads may take up to two hours.

The warm weather this chakon was at its peak and seems to have intensified during kapidwan chi opok when I caught the 'eastern express' to the green mountains and high rainforests of Barlig. The rains that signal fosfos were not far from coming, but for now the roads are dry and dusty. Perhaps I should have taken the 'pony express'.

The sun was blazing and it was a scorching hot April day this summer, so I opted to simmer in the jeepney's interior, than burn outside as a toploader.
The plan was to return the same way from Barlig, and that I will have another chance to take photos on the way back.

As it turned out, my travel plans were turned upside down, and I did not get to take as many photos as I had hoped, especially between Talubin and Barlig, and Barlig itself.
So there you are. The photos here are just a sighter of Barlig municipality from the top of a jeep from Barlig to Lias to Kadaclan. Next time we will venture to more places: the ricefields, the mossy rainforests, the mountains including Amuyao and a host of others.

This shato (as the Ivadoi may call it) is near Chatol. It is on a high tableland or mountain top or chatar (Imainit) or data (as in Mt Data). Also called chata (in Bontoc), the French spell it chateau to rhyme with plateau :-).

Ang lunas ng unas is the balm of Lunas, found only in Kadaclan - in Barlig.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Workingman's Blues #12 & 4. The first quarter - for bread and butter

The first quarter of this year has been and gone. Just like that. And winter's here. Yes indeed, just like that.
I have not been sticking to timetables and schedules and whatnot. I’ve never been a stickler to the very structured, the well-organised up-to-the-minute kind of plan. Sometimes we should bend with the wind or go with the flow. That said, I have planned for my workstyle not to be all about gasfields or pipelines or the bush.  Likewise I prefer not to be working in an office while I still have legs able to carry me around. It’s all about balance. The Chinese have this worked out long ago. The concept of "yin and yang" to achieve harmony. Life’s like that.
In this life we need freedom, not a bill of rights. And flexibility allows for a bit of freedom. Freedom’s just another word for when things don’t go to plan. Processes that are too rigid or regimented do not allow for choice. I cannot have that. And so it is with blogging, sometimes I’ve got nothing to say. So I choose to ‘show and tell’ without the tell J.
Anyway while I’m not traipsing out bush in the coalface of development in southern Queensland, I’m involved somewhere else doing what I can to put food on the table.

In early 2012 through to March, I spent a few weeks working in the areas between Kogan and Wandoan.
In Miles, I avoided the hangman,
and made a wish upon a star of a wishing-well.

It was the height of summer,
and I watched the locals play their silly game - 
under lights in the bright afternoon sun. 
Must be the global dimming.

It was more exciting watching the grass grow, at the feet of camels in the wild.

During the off stints, work brought me to other places in and around Brisbane in the southeast of Queensland.
Caboolture in January had some very wet grounds from above average rainfall. This did not prevent us from working the bushlands around the aerodrome. I'd rather have gone gliding, but watching the paint dry on the light planes is more thrilling :-).

Crawling through the thick eucalypts, water was up to our necks in the swamps and tall grasses. We were told of the presence of snakes in them lakes. I did not meet even one.
Not far off Caboolture and Moreton bay is Griffin on the northern banks of the North Pine river. We did some more walking around the open forest stands there. Then southwards past Bald Hills and Carseldine, I once tracked Chinaman creek road in the Little cabbage tree district of Aspley.

Come February I took flight again - off to the Western Downs and Columboola, and beyond to Miles, then Bundi and Clifford northeast of Roma.
The colours of the landscape under the flight path kept changing hue.
From grey to green, from gold to blue.

I took to the roads, the trees and bushes. 
I hid behind the bottle... tree.

Off Tribes Road, I heard the tribes a-moaning.
Mines are careful not to disturb indigenous Aboriginal artefacts,
or the spirits won't be happy.

In March the bright city lights enticed this wanderer from puklis, back to the metropolis. Southbank in South Brisbane is a bustling commercial hub, a beehive of metropolitan activity. 
There are cafes, parks, apartments, offices, museums, art galleries, transport centres, etc and just recently a radio station (ABC) has relocated there.
 I looked in on some shops and parkland features. 
My shoes are made for striding, 
but her boots are made for walking.

In Southbank, you can safely go under a ship's hull or propeller.
You can even get shipwrecked. The island's just at hand.

Next to the heritage-protected South Brisbane railway station is a newly constructed extension of the Brisbane convention and exhibition centre. A mix of old and new. Australia’s like that.

From Southbank I also ventured out to the north banks of the Brisbane river in Hamilton. Hamilton is home to wharves and expensive apartments. It is also the site of an international cruise terminal.
I was going on a cruise... no not on that thing.
My mate's got a dinghy hidden in the mangroves.
Up in the sky...It's a bird...It's a plane...It's super-
 It's a boat?

Eagle Farm and Pinkenba are industry centres outside the adjacent Brisbane airport. 
But lurking in the mangroves, sometimes the locals pop out for a chat. 

Northshore 'beach' is at least 12km from the Brisbane river mouth on Moreton Bay.

And then back on the north of Brisbane in Deception bay and Rothwell. 
Deception bay is a deceptive shallow bay mistaken for a river by the explorer John Oxley, hence the name. 

In from the bay is a cockatoo shopping centre.
Or maybe they're waiting for the bus.
Cockatoos perform in twos,
but in the afternoon they come in fives, at five.

Rothwell is home to the Redcliffe airport. Fitzgibbon a greenfield site suburb in northern Brisbane, is undergoing a facelift to upgrade its service infrastructure, community and street and transport facilities.

The cool breezes of April blew me south to Salisbury and then to the landscaped townhouse community of Norfolk village in Ormeau.
Salisbury, home to Toohey mountain and forest, has lots of walking tracks. 
Sounds like a place to be. The mountains are calling me home...
 First I have to get my job done. Do the tests, and pass the tests.
 And then I can be free to fly - like an eagle.