Chapter 5 Tourism
With not only the rice terraces but also the history and the indigenous culture, Ifugao attracts researchers and tourists from countries all over Europe, Asia, and Americas, as well as domestically.
The development of tourism and research activities was witnessed by the interviewees. One of them told me “in the past there were very few [tourists] but now there are many” (BW10). A weaver of native attire told me “the first time I sold this one [Ifugao woman’s attire] was 10 pesos, then 15 pesos, and when the price became 50, there came the first tourist” (BW7). And today the attire costs around 2,000 pesos (U.S $40). One interviewee from Hungduan told me “last year we had around 12,000 [tourists], and the other year we had around 9,000. So it is increasing a little” (GW7). And in terms of researchers, one interviewee told me that “Ifugao is the most researched place until now” (VI1).

1.1        Tourism and the local community

With an increasing number of tourists arriving in Ifugao, people’s lives is experiencing various changes. It may be necessary to note here before getting into the details of the advantages and disadvantages of tourism for local Ifugao communities that, generally, Ifugaos find tourism of benefit to their life.

1.1.1        Value of tourism for the local community

Ifugaos generally welcome tourists. They see value in tourism, including increasing the income of local people. A farmer interviewee said, “many tourists come here so we have more income” (RF1), and another interviewee told me “they live in hotel, eat in a restaurant and some need a massage. Store owners have business. If someone buys something, it is helping us” (BW7). In Batad[1], a sign at a small souvenir store reads “Helping poor families” and “buying local products.” Ifugaos also enjoy learning new things from the tourists. One farmer told me “sometimes they [the tourists] tell us stories about their countries. And we learned that their countries are different from ours and they dress differently from us. That is why I know a little bit of English” (RF09). Another interviewee told me “the hotel owners’ life changed. In the past they were all in native huts and now they are all in hotels. They can make money and their children can study” (BW7). Because of these practical benefits, Ifugaos are happy to see more tourists. I was told by interviewees that “I will earn money and I hope that foreigners will come to our country and we will have our jobs” (BW13) and “We like them so much. We are praying. We always pray for tourists to come” (BW10).
The other value of tourism for Ifugaos is to promote their culture. An interviewee who works in the tourism business told me that “we explain to them about our culture, let them ask some questions and make them satisfied” (BW17). Another interviewee said, “I think the reason why tourists come to Ifugao is not just for aesthetics, they come to Ifugao because they also want to experience the culture, especially the cultural values we have here” (KE 14). Some of the interviewees also mention that tourism can promote the Ifugao culture among local communities. One interviewee told me that tourists “come here to see the culture which I think would encourage them [other Ifugaos] to continue in their traditional ways” (VI9).

1.1.2        Tourism business

Tourism created new livelihoods in Ifugao. Tourism-related businesses like tour guiding, souvenir stores, hotels, and native dance performances emerged. As a tourist gets off a jeepney or tour bus at Banaue, the tourist center of Ifugao, it is very likely that he or she would first be greeted by some young tour guides asking where they are going. The tour guides, usually wearing a polo T-shirt, would then unfold a worn-out flier of the tour packages with their color- faded laminated certificate, and start introducing the places of interest around Banaue and adjacent municipalities. Other than these freelance tour guides, there are those who work under an organization. The price varies depending on the tour, starting from about 500 pesos (U.S. $10) for an hour.
Interviewees told me that the tour guides “did not have jobs. They did not earn much from farming. Usually they are basically farmers. They have farms and after planting, they don’t have anything to do so they engage in tour guiding[2]” (GW7), said an interviewee. Interviewees who worked as tour guides told me how much their job had helped them. “[It] is a good mark of the business of local people also, especially for us for tour guiding because it is [a] big help that gives us work and provides us our everyday life, especially for younger generations like us” (BW17). The business of tour guides depends greatly on the flow of tourists, and thus the tour guides have to look for alternative jobs such as drivers or construction workers. “There are a lot of guides and you know the guides don’t work everyday. Especially now low season, I think at this moment no one went on tour, [there is] only one driver [doing tours] because it is very low season and we are like 80 members and we take turns everyday so we must also think about any jobs, so sometimes we drive” (BW17).
After dealing with some tour guides, the tourist may be attracted by the many souvenir stores. A typical souvenir store would have native attires and hand woven bags hanging on the walls or from the ceiling, rattan products like baskets or bags on shelves together with wood carvings and bags of tinawon rice[3].
Some interviewees in this business told me that most of their products were bought from people in the villages. An interviewee explained that the farmers “have free time, especially after working. I just order from them and they will bring it here” (BW11). Among these products, woodcarving is the most popular. An interviewee who was selling woodcarvings said, “I buy from my relatives who are carvers. I give them the sample and they carve it” (BW10). I then asked about the process of making woodcarvings and the interviewee replied that, “they plant, from the forests. And they get the wood from the forests. Some buy from other people especially if they need a big log.” And after carving, still by traditional hand tools, the products are brought to the store where they will be painted black, “but the antique is naturally black because of the smoke” (BW10).
Among the woodcarvings, the most popular one is the Ifugao rice granary guardian, the bulul. When asked if the commercialization of the rice guardian would make the statue less sacred, interviewees expressed no worry, replying, “no I think not. Most of the tourists know what the bulul is” (BW10). Apart from traditional Ifugao carvings, newer styles that originated from other places are made in Ifugao as well. Interviewees explained to me that “actually some tourists came here and we did not have elephant, and they asked if we have elephant. And they asked us to make elephant. I said ok” (BW8). Such wood carving styles with external origins can display a totally different image, such as a Buddha wood statue and a wood ashtray with a penis carving.
Again, like the tour guides, the life of the owners of such souvenir stores depends greatly on the flow of tourists. Unlike the part-time craft makers who are also farmers, full-time storekeepers shared one difficult time with me, saying “maybe I didn’t have sales for three days to five days. Yes, during the global crisis especially when the World Trade Center was bombed, that was the time, and then the global crisis…It was really hard time for me. I have my two kids. I didn’t know [what] other business to divert [to]. It was so hard to decide” (BW10).

1.1.3        Competition

With tourism came competition among various businesses (Figure 42). An interviewee said “some people here, they sell the rice God, the bulul. And if I sell it and the others also sell it, and my price is not the same with their price and that is a bad competition. They will talk to the tourist. Don’t buy others’ rice God because it is not good and mine is good. The wood is good” (BW14). Another interviewee said, the owners of some hotels would “give some money to the guides”[4] (BW10) and “some will tell the staff at the information center to convince the tourists to go to their hotel, even though the tourists decide which [hotel] to go [to]” (BW14).
Figure 42: Billboards of hotel advertisements at the first sight of Bata rice terraces
Perhaps the fiercest competition is among tour guides. An interviewee shared an experience where tour guides “fought, in front of the tourists” (BW14) because “when there were four tourists, [they] talked to [some] other [tour guide] to lower the payment so that he would be the one to guide. And when he guided them, the others were angry because he lowered the price” (BW14). Competition is also seen between tour guide organizations, as one interviewee explained that “we have our organization and I work for this kind of organization and we don’t lower the price. We have our standard rates. And next, there are freelancers outside. And if you see [the other organization] there, it is crazy here I tell you. They lowered the price. It is crazy. It is a big competition. It is funny. They are the ones who made the price and after they made it, they lowered the price. We are following the price because we are following the government price” (BW17). This competition extended even to the tour guides from different places. An interviewee complained “the tourists come from [the other place] so they usually have tour guides from there accompanying them, unless the tour guides turn their guests over to us then we have an opportunity to earn. It is really a big fight because we have to argue” (GW7). Yet an interviewee from the place mentioned explained that “I think how they explain their own hometown is not satisfying, because from my own experiences, the tour guides just keep on going. So I advise them to go on training then we can hand [the tourists] over” (BW17).
When I asked what the interviewees thought of the competition, many told me that they were sad. One of them said, “It is part of the generation. It is part of the job. It exists only when tourists are here because competition is not a part of traditional Ifugao” (BW17).

1.1.4        Tourism and agriculture

Previous research suggested a positive relationship between tourism and Ifugao agriculture as tourists were willing to pay to restore terraces (Calderon et al., 2009). And by that, tourists are helping local communities appreciate their culture as well. An interviewee said “when they [the tourists] come here [and say] ‘Oh, your rice field is damaged, so I will give you something to fix your rice field’…they are coming to help the farmers” (BW3). An interviewee told me that farmers “are the ones being picture-taken. They are introduced to other countries. I hear that they are happy because their pictures will go to other countries” (BW10) and “maybe here it is a shame if you see the picture and you see your own rice field is not planted” (KE6), said another interviewee. However, bad feelings can occur when tourists complain. One interviewee shared his experience, telling me that “some [tourists] said ‘Oh, I came here to see grasses.’ Sometimes I feel sad because I am from here so why do you come here to say things like that” (BW17).
Moreover, although these interviewees emphasized the positive effects of tourism on local community, others told me about their different experiences. When farmers saw that the people engaged in tourism were making a profit but they were not, they suggested a plan for the restaurant managers to help them by buying their rice. However, according to an interviewee, the reply from the restaurant managers was that “we won’t buy because [it’s] too expensive” (BW3). The interviewee continued explaining to the manager that “without us, you have no business also. Please buy our rice so that you can direct the money to the farmers,” but the managers were not convinced. The interviewee told me that he thought the managers were “not aware of the hardship of the farmers” and therefore he was “thinking maybe farmers have resources in the town, and we will also put up an [business] establishment.”
Another example is that although there were tour guides who were also farmers, some young people were only engaged in tour guiding and had given up farming. “Now the young generation, they just wait for guiding and they don’t know how to help their own parents in the rice field” (BW10), complained one interviewee. The reason for this, according to another interviewee, is that “if you go to the rice field and work for one day, you will just receive a pay of 200 pesos (U.S. $4), but if you guide a tourist even just for one hour or even less, you get about 500. That is why one time previously, they were asking for funds to restore the terraces since they were damaged by a landslide. [One] million [pesos] was [given to] resolve the terraces. But they are not working in restoring. They said you work [on the restoration] from six to six and [are] paid 200 or 300, while if you guide a tour, in one hour you can make 500” (GW3).
Seeing the dual effects, both positive and negative, of tourism on agriculture, the interviewees summarized that “our values, our attitude sometimes changed [also] because of the visitors. There are many businesses and [business] establishments…when they learn something more profitable, other activities will not be sustainable. Look at the farmers at [a tourist destination]; when there are lots of tourists there, they prefer doing some weaving and carving. They don’t like to go to the rice field” (BW3). The solutions proposed were that “we still maintain our rice terraces even [if] we are busy in the tour guiding. For example, we can hire one woman to clean our terraces” (BW13) and from a government level, “we need to make sure that the farmers who are growing the crop in the rice terraces are being paid their fair share, if not given more incentives to keep growing rice by [the] tourism department to make sure that there is something beautiful for the tourists to want to come and see” (VI9).

1.1.5        Violations by tourists

Being a rather isolated society for a long time, it was not easy for all Ifugaos to accept the sudden arrival of tourists. An interviewee said, “I noticed during the earlier years that when they [community members] saw foreigners walking in the terraces, they had the feeling of being intruded [upon]. Sometimes they did not even talk to tourists.” Nonetheless, the interviewee continued saying, nowadays “they talk to foreigners. They are a little [more] friendly to other people coming in” (GW7).
One way Ifugaos deal with this is to suggest that all tourists hire local tour guides. An interviewee told me that “some guests in the past climbed in the mountain and fell down and died in the center of mountain. The community was bothered” (BW13) and “we don’t like the guests [to] come here and die, so we want to prevent that from happening.” Therefore, with tour guides, the tourists “will follow our policies and our rules to avoid damage [and injury]” (BW13). However, while local Ifugaos see that as a protection for the tourists, the tourists think that it is their freedom to explore. One interviewee told me “[when] somebody asks to guide them [the tourists], they would say ‘no need. No need to guide, my eyes are my guide.’ They are philosophical” (BW8).
It is understandable that tourists come to Ifugao with a different lifestyle and view on life. Ifugaos saw that as “the Ifugao values are somehow threatened, especially on the taboos” (GW7). One example of this violation mentioned by the interviewees was that they found some tourists dressed improperly. An interviewee complained to me that “some tourists we see here are only wearing their underwear while walking. That is bad” (BW14). I then mentioned that in the past Ifugaos did not wear much clothes either and the interviewee explained to me that “in the past there were no clothes. If you had clothes, you had only one. You had no other [clothes] to change. But now there are more clothes to wear but why you [tourists] don’t use [them]?”
An example of this happened to me one evening in the dining area at a guesthouse. As I was gathering my notes, a group of European female tourists and their tour guide came for dinner with one of them wearing a pair of low rise jeans showing the back string of her underwear. After they were full from their over-ordered dinner, they start chatting with the tour guide over beer. One of them asked the 30-year-old-looking tour guide whether he was married, and the tour guide replied he had children already. The group shouted out a mix of laughter and pity. I saw the tour guide embarrassed with an awkward smile on his face.
The other instance happened when I was interviewing at the hot spring in Hungduan, I saw four French tourists. Smoking in the hot spring pool, the man was in his swimming shorts and the three women were in their bikinis. I asked the staff at the site and she told me those clothes were allowed only at the hot spring, but added that being naked is not allowed anywhere.
While there were other complaints about the tourists’ habits such as walking in the room with wet, muddy shoes, talking loudly at night, and smoking, some interviewees brought up the problem of drug abuse. More than a couple interviewees told me that “some of them [the tourists] may bring the drugs here, like the marijuana” (BW14) and “some of them share with the people here.” Moreover, noticing that young tour guides use words more lightly than their parents, I asked about the wording tourists used and a tour guide told me “the young tourists speak a little bit bad words like ‘fuck’, ‘oh fuck’, especially young guests” (BW17). The tourists not only make changes in the wording in language, but also in people’s behavior. A mother interviewee told me that sometimes “our children learn to beg [for] money because the tourists are the ones starting to give money to our children. That is why our children start to beg” (RF9).
Environmentally, tourism also posed a problem as “some of them [tourists] do not know how to throw [away] their garbage. They just throw it, or leave it anywhere” (BW14). One interviewee said “some tourists or locals are not very responsible. When they eat something they just throw [the remains] anywhere. And the neighbors came to me sometimes and told me that the guests just threw some bottles. So for me, I with my cousin do the cleaning. And once a month my family leads a clean up drive” (BW12).

1.2        Tourists' perspectives

It is often the case that when seen from different cultural perspectives, a particular society appears differently, and these different images may provoke new realizations in the people in this society. As pointed out by some interviewees, one of the benefits of tourism for the Ifugao community is to provide them with such different images of their own culture and hopefully they will find a perspective on their own culture that they have overlooked.
While local Ifugaos generally appreciated the development of their society supported by tourism, tourists, on the other hand, have very different perspectives. They not only have different perspectives from the local Ifugaos’, but also have diverse opinions and perceptions of the Ifugao they saw. Although most tourists, foreign or domestic, come to Ifugao to see the scenery of rice terraces and perhaps to experience a bit of the Ifugao culture, their different backgrounds and personal preferences give them very different impressions of the identical Ifugao they experience. In general, these diverse perceptions originate from several very different ideologies related to the development of Ifugao society.

1.2.1        “I want some places to be preserved as they are”

Some tourists came to Ifugao expecting not only to see the sceneries but also to experience a different society from the modern one where they came from. A tourist said, “we want to rejuvenate ourselves from our daily stress from office, our home and from the traffic in metro…we don’t want the modern style in the cities, the concrete jungle there. That is why we are expecting something different” (VI13).    For some of them, Ifugao did not satisfy this expectation. One told me that “we are totally shocked. You can say this place is much modernized. It is all concrete” (VI8). She complained that “you don’t see the half naked women. I think just the elders wear the native clothes here.”
I continued to ask these tourists why they expected so, and their reasons varied. Some interviewees enjoyed cultures different from their own. One of them said “people like different things. Dark people like whiter skin, white people like darker skin…we have city life, so we want the old Ifugao traditional houses and culture,” (VI10) and that “the native way is more cultural-characteristic [or unique]” (VI8). And for some tourists, the traditional Ifugao could evoke nostalgic memories of their childhood. I was told that “running around in the neighborhood, knowing everyone around you, being able to interact with everyone around you without fear of being killed, and growing up farming was my childhood. This is my childhood, similar to this and I miss that” (VI11).
Such perspectives originated from their perception of their own, usually more modern life. They told me that Ifugaos “are luckier because they have the peace in mind. They don’t have to worry too much. They just need to worry about food on the table. Maybe they have a little bit [of] money while for me I have to worry a lot, about the bills. So it is different” (VI10). They added that the modern life “devastates everything you know, the culture and the places” (VI8) and complained that in their modern life, the food was not healthy and people lacked connection to nature and other people. However, ironically, they said they could not live without “all the modern things. I can't live without the clothes, modern clothes, the AC in the house and the television” (VI10).
The question then became, if modern life is something the tourists found a necessity, what is the difference that made them prefer Ifugaos to preserve their lifestyle? The tourists responded “I think we are just born with a different way of living” (VI3) and Ifugaos “did not experience the life that we have. I meant they were born with a simple life so they did not want something like the modern life. But we [tourists] were born in the cities. I got used to this kind of [city] life and they got used to their [Ifugao] life” (VI10). And because “they have their skills to survive. The thing in the developed areas is that they [people] need to combat the changes. They need to adapt with the new things. Whereas here [in Ifugao] changes are coming but they are not as rapid as those happening in the cities. That is why they [Ifugaos] choose to live in the same way as before. And I guess they don’t want to change their way of living because they are happy with that right now. If there is an option for us to live here right now I guess we cannot do that more than a month because we [have] already experienced the things we need everyday…we will not live like this…if you choose to live here everything will change” (VI13).
But when I asked the tourists what the reasons were for the modernization in Ifugao, they admitted that “we are the reason they changed” (VI10), and “because of tourists, the place changed. In some way it is our fault that what we expected for this place did not come up” (VI10). So while they preferred that the Ifugao society remain traditional, they also think that Ifugaos “have to put lots of lodges and inns here because tourists are coming, and they [Ifugaos] need to accommodate the people so they [Ifugaos] need to adapt, so they build a lot of lodges and inns. So in some way the tourists are the reason why the place changed. If there is no tourist coming here they would still live the life they had” (VI13), and that “you cannot survive as a simple farmer for the rest of your life. You need to have improvement. There is a change coming [and] you have to adapt to it. You need to be competitive toward other farmers” (VI13). At the end of the interview, it was said “we are disappointed at this moment but we understand that they want change” (VI10).

1.2.2        “I pity them. I want them to have the good life I have”

To some tourists, especially those from foreign countries, the Ifugao way of life is pitiful. Their idea of Ifugao life is that “all I know [is that], if I have to work one day like the woman I saw yesterday I would die for sure” (VI12). At first I interpreted it as a compliment for the amazing work Ifugaos were doing, but soon realized their pity for Ifugaos as they continued to say that “the [Ifugao] woman there who is 30 years old looks like 60 years old. This is not normal. This is not natural. This is not fair…I don’t like them to go to the river and wash their clothes in the river by hand. I want them to put clothes in the washing machine and then in the drier. And then go to a coffee house and drink coffee with her friends.”
To these tourists “the world around us evolves and we take from that. I don’t think it is fair to expect people to be living in a hut just because it is part of their culture. That shouldn’t determine they have to live in huts forever like that” (VI6). And tourists agreed with the local Ifugaos that by their coming, income would be brought to the local communities. As one tourist said, “more or less the [Ifugao] people can make some money by selling products. With this they can buy some clothes for kids or school. The progress is going on and we cannot stop that. They should not live like in the jungle anymore” (VI4). Furthermore, they believed, “we don’t see any angry faces so they [Ifugaos] are not unhappy with the tourists,” and “I think they want this to be. They want it” (VI12). A tourist explained “the nature of the human is to be more modern…I don’t believe that anyone wants to stay primitive. I don’t think that anyone wants it” (VI12). “Everyone wants more. If they see something better, they want to achieve that, every time [by] small steps” (VI7), said another tourist.
As mentioned in the chapter on the rice terraces, this social change may extend to the traditional agriculture. The tourist interviewees agreed that “For [the] long run, if you want to buy TV or other machines for the house, then you need to earn much more money. So you need to go to other works [jobs] and farming is the lowest income” (VI7). Yet they were not worried that the rice terraces may be threatened “because they will grow the rice maybe with modern techniques, modern machines” and “they will be open to other ways of growing things [and] they will use new techniques to grow some other products, not only the rice.”

1.2.3        “It is a great experience. How simple life is sometimes”

Some other tourists, also from very different backgrounds from the Ifugaos’, found appreciation rather than pity for the Ifugao lifestyle. When asked about their impression of the Ifugao lifestyle, they replied that it was “not stressful, [but instead,] simple and not complicated,” (VI9) and that Ifugaos “always have a smile” (VI4) and “offer more than [what] they have” (VI5).
This impression came from the contrast between the Ifugao life and theirs. They told me, “we have more stress on the job, [and in] private life. The boss expects more and more from you” (VI4) and that “coming from close to Manila, your first instinct is to not trust people. That is the first instinct. And once I got here in the north part I still felt the same way. I still had the fear of interacting with people, asking for their services because I was afraid that just like in the city, they would lie to me or cheat me. But it turned out [that] the more I interact with them, I wondered why was I thinking that. These were the nicest people and I felt very guilty by that time because I didn’t have to fear that” (VI11).
Although these tourists appreciated the Ifugao life, like others, they foresaw some changes. One of them told me, local Ifugao young people “can go to school, find a job elsewhere or work as a tour guide here instead of working in the field” (VI4). And another said “this happened in our place. No one is going to look after the rice field” (VI11).
As the interviewees continued on their impression of the Ifugao lifestyle, they began reflecting on their own lifestyle. “It is really difficult because the people have to develop because, for us as tourists, you see this and you think it is really good but maybe they have the opportunity to go to the cities and improve with a better job” (VI14), the conversations soon turned to a larger scale and sometimes even a philosophical level. I was told “if you live in a country developed so much, they always teach you since you are a kid to compete. You have to compete to have better advantage, a better house, and a better family. So it is always compete, compete, and compete and so it is difficult for the people to be happy, more friendly and open-minded” (VI5). And he continued “when you visit a country less developed, for example, one guy has to prepare his house, and maybe all the guys from the village come to help him. It is impossible to see something like that in developed countries. In general, you cannot always meet friendly people in those countries.” They were impressed by “the attitude with most of other [Ifugao] people. For example, within Europe or Spain, people are not very friendly. If a tourist asks something, they answer and then go. But here if somebody has a problem with a motorbike, anyone [would] stop and ask if you are ok, or need something. It is so different.” After experiencing that, they told me “I think you have to learn how to be happy. Because if you have to have the latest iPhone and the good car like Ferrari. Okay, I reach that and then what? I need more? I think we have to try to learn to change” (VI14). And likewise, after experiencing being helped by strangers, one saide, “it is something I always try to teach my students. The thing is that they may not learn what I teach but I want them to be compassionate. That is the thing no matter how upset they are to me, or whatever [score] they give me, I always try to be compassionate because when I receive it myself, I feel so great. I will not forget the person for the rest of my life” (VI11).
Accordingly, the difficulty was “sometimes people think it is impossible to change the world…it is like a circle. If the people don’t change their minds, nothing will change” (VI5). It was added that “we have friends who never go out and they don’t know anything outside there. They only see their place. It is normal. They cannot imagine this” (VI14). In the end, I was told “you have to see. Yes, you have to see. You think that the entire world is like that but it is not” (VI14).

1.3        Harvest ceremony and celebration festival

In Hungduan, the harvest ceremony, huowah and the harvest celebration festival, punnuk, are the biggest events of the year. Huowah, which takes place the day before punnuk, is a private ritual done by the leader family in the village. At huowah, a mumbaki arrives to the family in the morning and performs the ritual where he thanks the God for the harvest and prays for the next good one. According to an interviewee, the prayer “is a response to our survival, because it has something to do with food, help, and well-being of our children” (VI1). Animals are then butchered as a sacrifice and shared by the relatives as lunch. After lunch, the group opens jars of rice wine which the family prepared in advance. Over the rice wine the mumbaki chants out the names of the ancestors and invites them to join. After that he stands up, faces the village and shouts revelry to signal the other families to start their celebrations (Respicio, 2013).
This originally private event, together with the well-know punnuk, is getting attention from visitors as well. And as more people attend, the amount needed to feed the participants increases,[5] but a member of the host family said “since we accept the responsibly it is not a burden” (VI1). According to another member, they continue performing the rituals since only the one performed by their family has been effective over history, as if they were the selected family. And thus there is less worry on providing enough food, but more on what others and their ancestors would do to them if they stop this ritual.
Figure 43: Visitors documenting huowah
From my observation of the ritual, there were approximately 30 participants, but more visitors than local participants. Mostly from foreign countries, the visitors had dyed hair, tattoos, and professional outdoor and photography equipment. During the ritual, cameras were all around and pointing directly at the mumbaki. I asked some of the visitors if a permit for photo was needed and was told that since it was a special event, it was allowed (Figure 43).
The next morning after the huowah, fully dressed in their native clothes, men and women, young and old, from the three barangays, or villages, of Hapao, Baang, and Nungulunan walk down shouting from their homes over the mountains to the junction of the three rivers that separate the barangays. There in the river, they hold the punnuk, the harvest celebration festival. Using the trunk of a tall thin tree, people from different barangays play tug-of-war and other games. The event ends when the winner from the three barangays is announced.
Figure 44: Tug-of-war game during punnuk
At the event there were almost 500 people. Most Ifugaos were wearing their native clothes and participated at the games (Figure 44). As they played, tourists and researchers rushed into the river as well trying to get the best photos. After the game, results were announced and prizes[6] from the sponsor were given. During the break after lunch, I asked some players what the prize they won was and they said money. It was the money from the sponsor[7], who told me that the donation in 1999 was 8,000 pesos and this year 12,345 pesos (U.S. $250).
Many local interviewees were concerned about the influence of this change on participants’ motivation. “In the past, people came voluntarily. But now even if you call them, they would not come if they have no time. But if you ask them to come for a prize, naturally, people will come” (RF8). While some saw the positive side of keeping the traditional festival, concerns were that “they will think of the prize, not the value” (KE1). While the original value of this festival was “binding of community people” (KE1), showing gratitude to God and imploring his continued assistance (Respicio, 2013), some did think the event was “just an amusement” (KE1).

1.4        Future of tourism in Ifugao

However tourists viewed Ifugao, the future should still be in the hands of the collective Ifugaos. Discussions are taking place not only among the general public, but also among government officials. The primary consideration is “to include local people in the planning and implementing because it is those who really have the heart to keep their rice fields and land. That is why they are part of the stakeholders” (GW2). And many Ifugaos told me they would like to propose the eco-tourism programs where “tourists will also be involved in the progress. They will go to the farmers’ house or village, and if they are interested in the culture, or how to make or prepare the rice field, it is open” (BW3). It seemed to a lot of these interviewees that, the benefit of such programs was that farmers “will earn income directly from [the] tourism industry” (GW7).
Indeed, tourism can be an industry, but for societies like the Ifugao, it can also be a cultural bridge. With this widening bridge, Ifugao is as open to external cultures as tourists are to the Ifugao culture. The irony with this bridge may be that, on one hand, it opens a path for Ifugaos to exit their traditional culture, but, on the other hand, it offers a new perspective from which they may be able to see a different image of their own culture, like many tourists have shared. The future, not just of tourism, but also of the culture itself, may depend on whether and how Ifugaos change their mind when they are on this path of cultural change partly in service of tourism and how far they will go on it.

[1] Rice terraces in Batad, Banaue are one of the most touristic spots in Ifugao.
[2] Since the peak season of tourism falls around October to January, which is the slack season when farmers do non-agricultural work, most of them now engage in tour guiding. But the number of full time tour guides is still higher than that of the farmer tour guides.
[3] The mission of cooperative souvenir store reads “encourage members to produce quality products that will outgrow competition and conquer the world.”
[4] Also discussed Bulilan’s research (2007).
[5] According to an interviewee, 18 bundles of rice and two chickens were needed for the ritual, which was not a small cost.
[6] On average, the prize for each player was about 300 pesos.
[7] Punnuk stopped for many years until 1999 and this individual sponsor donated money as “kickstarter.”