When the rest of Ifugao celebrates Uya-ay Festival

By Anthony A. Araos

“The Uya-ay Festival is also a way for the municipal government to build a stronger agritourism industry in the years ahead,” added Cuyahon.”

For mountain rice lovers, rice terraces enthusiasts and for the entire agriculture sector, celebrating the annual Uya-ay Festival in Hungduan- have become an important activity for young and old folks alike, as significant as Kulpi festivities of various towns in Ifugao.
But for many Ifugao folks even outside of the province, the Uya-ay Festival presented itself with all the charm of a crowd-drawer each year with or without an accompanying election on the side.
This year, many are hoping that politicians and candidates will step aside and allow residents and guests to truly understand and appreciate the essence and uniqueness of the popular Uya-ay Festival.
From April 14 to 16, residents make the case not only that Uya-ay Festival is gaining adherents in Ifugao but that the festivity is attracting as well the attention of many in the Cordillera Administration Region (CAR), many other parts of the Philippines and throughout the world.
For three days, this festival is indeed getting a refresh in style and substance.
Works that look like a well-meaning Uya-ay Festival take a strongly different form in different times in different places of Hungduan.
“Uya-ay Festival is one way of attracting local and foreign tourists to make Hungduan their choice destinations for the summer vacation,” says Councilor Pablo Cuyahon, who served as mayor of this scenic town and is now seeking a return to the Office of the Mayor in the May 13, 2019 midterm elections.
“The Uya-ay Festival is also a way for the municipal government to build a stronger agritourism industry in the years ahead,” added Cuyahon.
The town’s top tourist draws are its rice terraces.
Other major attractions of Hungduan are Mt. Napulauan and a number of nature trails. The late General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Japanese Imperial Army sought refuge in the slopes of the said mountain. Folks christened the mountain as “Napulawan” or “whitened.” This is associated with the cloud-and-fog cover that makes everything white on the mountain. A good number of hikers and trekkers have visited the town in recent years.
The town’s famed rice terraces are centuries old. Unfortunately, landslides have occurred. Farmers repaired some terraces using native stone-walling techniques. Like other Ifugao towns, there are other terraces here damaged by giant earthworms. Another problem is that several terraces are idle because young farmers opt to engage in other gainful jobs instead of cultivating their upland farms.
For three memorable days, politicians and candidates alike need to forego of their “vote for me” slogans and instead focus on promoting the tourism aspect of this town.
Uya-ay Festival is a great time to bring home bundle of joys and treats not tarpaulins and streamers. I’m encouraging tourists to visit Hungduan’s nine villages, savor the food immerse in its culture and befriend the residents. Hungduan folks are friendly and hospitable.
To my mind, the Uya-ay Festival is truly a must-see event because it imparts joy and happiness and a spirit of sharing, caring and helping one another. Above all, celebrations are simple and yet meaningful.
The conduct of the Uya-ay Festival is a milestone for the CAR and the nation. It should be that way. This is the time to look into the growing market of European, North American and Asian tourists who are visiting the Philippines. It is high time to bring them to Hungduan.
Outside of the tourists from the United States, United Kingdom (or Britain) and the European Union, I see the potential for increase in with arrivals from the Southeast Asian region given Hungduan’s proximity to Banaue.
What is needed is to refurbish the main sections of the town proper and improving the tourism infrastructure surrounding the major destinations of Hungduan. Of course, there are still many other great destinations waiting to be discovered out there.
It is for this reason that incoming officials of the town should implement activities by next year to promote Hungduan to domestic and foreign visitors through social media, familiarization tours and roadshows, among others. It should tap the private sector to achieve this noteworthy objective.
The Philippines has 81 provinces. Ifugao is one of them. The province has 11 municipalities. Hungduan is one of them. The Uya-ay Festival puts the spotlight on a key aspect of Hungduan’s distinct way of life.
I warmly greet the people and the municipal government of Hungduan on the occasion of its Uya-ay Festival.
I’ve heard it all in just two days into the campaign of local candidates in Ifugao. I’m referring no less to the so-called campaign “jingles” of those who are running for congressman and other positions. There are five of them who are seeking to be the rightful successor of Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., who is serving his third and last term. Baguilat is running for governor under the Liberal Party (LP).
These loud and blaring “jingles” are surely contributing to noise pollution.
Frankly, I heard nothing about their plans if elected in May. Candidates are appartently skirting from issues. Thus, I’d be inclined to ask them on pertinent matters like “original proponent status” (a grant from the Department of Public Works and Highways on road projects) or “entitlements” given to members of the House of Representatives.
Aspirants for the seat at the House of Representatives need to be quizzed on the issue of proportional allocation of funds in Congress.
So what the hell is “proportional allocation” all about in the first place? What is “zero budget allocation”? What is a congressional oversight committee?
Henceforth, who among the five congressional hopefuls in Ifugao is best qualified for the job of tackling the General Appropriations Act (GAA) or the national budget? He should be competent and highly-qualified for the job of scrutinizing the people’s budget for a fiscal year. Invariably, he is a solid asset to the next Congress and not a mere decoration.
Here is one way of really stamping out vote-buying schemes of moneyed politicians in Ifugao and elsewhere. Well-meaning efforts should be exerted to encourage young students to cast their votes in the May 13, 2019 polls.
According to Commission on Elections (Comelec) data, about 1.5 million Filipino youth would be eligible to vote for the first time in the forthcoming local and national elections. Many of them are bright, idealistic and less susceptible of selling their votes.
These young voters constitute a significant portion of the country’s population thus, should be given a say in choosing their leaders. In tightly-fought elections, such as in the senatorial race involving the 11th, 12th and 13th positions, they will provide the so-called “swing” votes. Most candidates are tapping the youth sector in their campaign operations and even sorties. A week or so before May 13, candidates are likely to harness young volunteers in their “text brigades” with the consummate message of “go out and vote for me.”
Against the collective voice of Filipinos for senatorial candidates to engage themselves in a debate, administration aspirants belonging to the ruling PDP-Laban and Hugpong ng Pagbabago refused to accept the challenge made by those identified with the “Otso Diretso” slate of the opposition LP. It is indeed a great disservice to the electorate. Instead, they are resorting to “sing and dance” antics during their rallies. It’s a weird entertainment presentation to the delight of lowly –educated and uneducated voters- an aberration.
What are they afraid of stating their positions on key issues of the day? Your guess is as good as anybody’s else. Ironically, re-electionist Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III sponsored recently a bill mandating the conduct of debates during electoral exercises. Pimentel is a candidate of the administration PDP-Laban. And if Senator Pimentel decides to accept the challenge of the LP bets, what are his other party mates going to do? Watch him in the sidelines and be his cheerleaders! Hehehe!
The PDP-Laban is fielding a complete slate for board members in Ifugao’s first district. They are former Tinoc Vice Mayor Agustin Calya-en, former Vice Governor Nora Dinamling, former Lamut Mayor Francis Tenenen and Engineer Julio Tindungan of Hingyon. Yet, when I went to the headquarters of Vice Governor Jose Jordan Gullitiw (who is running for Governor) in Lagawe, I was told that the party has two guest candidates for the said position. It defies simple logic and good wisdom to have guest candidates when all seats are filled up. I am now sensing a plot to junk one or two of the candidates of the party and they be replaced by some other guys.
Undoubtedly, the four aspiring candidates have outstanding track records. Isn’t this then mind-boggling and insulting?
The PDP-Laban senatorial slate has only five candidates. Thus, it adopted some guest candidates to complete its roster of 12 aspirants. Again, the PDP-Laban slate for board members is utterly complete. It is fully loaded. Pardon me, there is no vacancy!
Well, I agree that in Ifugao, they do not shoot each other. They just junk each other. Hihihi!
Blooper in Ifugao: This is one for the books in Ifugao. A candidate for board member and another one for vice mayor exceeded the required tarpaulin size. Their tarpaulins are obviously oversized. On the other hand, a board member candidate (also in the first district) posted a tarpaulin which is undersized. A candidate reacted that they should remove the oversized tarpaulins. Another one reacted, “why not also the undersized ones”? The owner of the undersized tarpaulin replied: “okay, I’ll remove mine and put them all together to meet the standard size of one big tarpaulin” hehehe!
For our food delights corner: Let’s have lechon paksiw for lunch, best served with steamed rice with egg omelet. For veggies, bring out the best chopseuy at the table. Who could ask for more? For appetizers and dessert, chilled buko juice or one can have ice cream. Again, don’t forget to say your prayers.
Finally, some thoughts for our readers: “I will teach your children My ways and give them great peace.” Is 54:13
“Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.” Humor columnist Emma Bornbech.**

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