I'waks Coping in a Changing World, Part 2 of 2: Dr. Del Rosario et al
The Adaptive Strategies of the I’waks of Kayapa A cursory glance at the adaptive strategies of theI’waks of Kayapa shows at least two definite practices: shiftingcultivation or slash and burn, and wet or dry agriculture, butthese depend upon which culture center is mentioned. Theenvironmental conditions determine to a large extent the kindof economic activities involved in each territory. It may besaid thus, that while a number of practices is generally sharedby the I’waks, there are slight differences in the manner bywhich economic activities are done.
Since the communities are nestled in plateaus or at the foot ofmountains, the swidden cultivation system is practiced. A farmingcycle also depends on which crops are grown. Moreover, landutilization varies. In Alang-Salacsac for instance, a greater part of the territory isgiven to pastureland (70%), about 20% is forest, 7% is given togardening, while a negligible 3% is to wet agriculture. Although theremay be a vast acreage that can be made available for cultivation,water supply is a problem. The problem of water supply in Alang-Salacsac makes swidden farming (slope gardening) account to only about 7%.
Pastureland in Alang Salacsac comprise about 70% of the land area. These man-made structures are used to barricade the cows and keep them from leaving the place.
About 20% of the total land area of Alang-Salacsac is forestland.
The very location of the sitios in Alang Salacsac ward of potentialrainfall; and since the crops are rain fed, the people need a catch basinfrom which water can be drawn for irrigation purposes. Unfortunately,doing so requires a huge cash outlay which the community cannot affordat the moment. Meanwhile, Amelong-Labeng, an upland barangay with anelevation of more than a thousand meters above sea level supports 15 %pitak or rice land and about 85% garden or upland agriculture. It alsoabounds in grasslands which is good for grazing animals like cattle andgoats. The forestland is a protected area because it is a watershed. Thisis where much of their requirements for firewood is obtained. Plastic andmetal pipes transport water from the source to the field; while a tankenclosed in hollow blocks serves as a storage or reservoir. Water storage
Water from natural springs make it possible to cultivate rice in terraces inAmelong-Labeng (about 15% of the land area while swidden fields are about 85%) Swidden Fields Site clearing for swidden fields
Talnag, Buyasyas Kayapa Buyasyas, Sta Fe Buyasyas both in Kayapa and Sta. Fe has about 75-80%agricultural land, 25% forestland, and about 5% of pastureland.Some 75% is cleared by way of slash and burn. Of this 50% ismaintained vegetable gardens while 35% is dry agriculture.
On the other hand, Li’bawan and Tuyungan in KayapaProper West utilize at least 40% of the land area to agriculturalactivities while a greater part (60%) is forest land. Yet even, ifthis were so, intensive farming is observed because of theavailability of fertile soil and the abundance of water supply. These adjacent sitios in Kayapa Proper West are two of the oldest culture centers of the I’waks located at the foot of the Caraballo mountain ranges Sitio Li’bawan Sitio Tuyungan
The gradual elevation, some flat terrain at the lower portion of the valley, andthe abundance of water supply from natural springs account for the extensivefarming activities . Most I’waks from these sitios are farmers until someagricultural areas were passed to the migrants.
Whichever way land is utilized, the following constitutes a typicalcycle for I’wak swidden cultivation. Swidden farming of rice begins with theclearing of selected fields, a process known as pan-uma in January orFebruary. Trees are first felled after which cut brush are made to dry for aweek or two, then burned immediately. Debris and ash resulting from burning are spread or left on the soilfor it to absorb nutrients. Panlablab, or soil cultivation lasts for a week. Toascertain that land is very well prepared for planting, the I’wak farmer doesthe bangdal (or plowing) to break, mishanum the soil; this is furtherloosened, pag-as and finished with saluysoy or suyod. Inasmuch as therains are still frequent this time, the I’wak prepares or does the kamma,plant bed in three days. Mandamon(To weed)Dabdab (Clear site) Burned swidden site
The digging, cuelo of holes is done in a day; and shortlythereafter, planting or tannaman/mantuned of seeds follows.Sustained monitoring is done in between the planting and harvesting.This includes weeding, damon or panlinis, occasional watering,panhibog or maintaining checkdams, or irrigation to assure a goodharvest. This is repeated at least 3 or 4 times before the harvest,panburas occurs in October.
I’waks of the aforementioned sitios are quick to point thatharvesting of palay depends upon the variety planted: the long-rangerequiring about 5-6 months of waiting, and the short about 4 months. For thelatter thus, the next cycle occurs in June. Although rice has replaced taroand gabi as staple, seldom do the I’waks harvest rice surplus; in fact, theharvest usually fails one to six month’s short of families’ annual ricerequirements. It is for this reason that gardening of taro or sweet potato ismaintained the whole year to assure them of sustenance and survival.
Horticultural activities either by the slopes of mountainsor in cleaned plots complements wet or dry agriculture.Although the methods employed are similar to the above, again,the cycle depends on which crops are maintained. Taro andsweet potato are planted anytime of the year and the I’waksonly have to wait for five months before the harvest is ready. What is good about the production of both is that theyield lasts for a year. It is true however, that the first harvestsare often the best and most profitable; as the months stretchinto a year, the harvest is not so good particularly in summer,when water is scarce. What is left of the harvest thus, is setaside and serve as fodder for animals like pigs.
Simple fence such asthis keeps the nativepigs and other animalsfrom going astray.
In Amelong-Labeng animal and agricultural products are brought to the marketevery Wednesday because it is market day at the town proper. Women trek themountains at least 4 times a month depending on the yield. They usually carry withthem a kayabang or basket of sweet potato weighing about 15 kilos, which sell at 15pesos a kilo. With this amount, they buy rice, salt, or vegetable oil which is just about whatthey need since vegetables are obtained from the gardens. In the same territory, cardis(garden peas), patani , tabungao and karabasa (gourd family), repolyo (cabbage),sitting beans and Baguio beans abound. At Boyasyas sweet peas, sitting beans,tomatoes, pepper, ginger, and peanuts are common, while coffee and bananas intercropwith their gardens. The products are transported using sacks, Kayabang and or by simple cartwheels
Baguio Beans Taro & other rootcrops Sweet Potato Tomato Upland RiceIn the same territory, cardis (garden peas, patani (lima beans), tabungao& kalabasa (gourd family), repolyo (cabbage, sitting beans and Baguiobeans abound. At Boyasyas, sweet peas, sitting beans, tomatoes,pepper, ginger, and peanuts are common, while coffee and bananasintercrop with their gardens.
Intercrop of rice andWeeding Tomato tomatoPlantations Li’bawan farmers tend their farms more than eight hours a day
The same are produced in Alang-Salacsac, with cassava on the side. At Li’bawan and Tuyungan, the variety in garden produce is further enhanced by the cultivation of tomato, cucumber, and watercress.Swidden fieldsabound inBesong and insome nearbysitios of otherbarangays
Upland gardens are thus given over to the extensive cultivation ofsweet potatoes; in the valleys like Li’bawan and Tuyungan, a more intensivemethod is followed using both mixed cropping and crop rotation. Householdsgenerally cultivate at least one of each garden type. The choice for which crops to rotate depends on the season and thesoil on which these are maintained. Some of these like beans and cucumberstake 45 days to mature; cauliflower about 65 days, while peanuts take somefour months. A multi-crop of String Beans, Baguio Beans, Rice, Banana & Lemon in Besong Cabbage fields abound in Besong
Whichever is produced,gardening or bangdal, starts withbukwal, or the clearing of a gardenplot. Damon or uprooting of grassfollowed and drying or dadbab comesnext. To even out the soil, kalpaganor pagpag is done, which requires Bangdalbreaking the soil loose. Only when thisis through that tanem or planting takesplace. While weeding or damon pre-occupied the I’wak between cycles,maintenance required the use offertilizers (traditionally using organicmaterials) along with the regularwatering of the plants. Pagpag/Kalpagan Damon (To lossen the soil)
In places where there is little water like Alang-Salacsac, this is done manually while in places more blessed with it, sprinklers do the job.Several rolls of PVC pipes areutilized to transport water forhousehold and agriculturalconsumption. Water Sprinkler
Meanwhile, two natural springssupply the essential water toLi’bawan and Tuyungan farmsaside from the river at thelower portion of the valley.
Protecting the gardens from occasional pests like birds or rats alsokeep the people busy. Scarecrows are of makeshift materials ranging fromold clothes, to plastic bags or nets, etc. At Tuyungan, used tin cans boredwith holes on both ends and thread with a piece of string are used in placeof scarecrows. As the cans dance with the rhythm of the wind, the birds aredriven away. The more resilient ones are dealt with slingshots from an irategardener. Shooing/scaring birds out from the field
At Boyasyas the bayya-ong, a bamboo mouse trap is used by the I’waks to control rats in the farms.The farmer leaves a piece of sweetpotato inside the bamboo trap andonce the rat trips the bamboo coil,the pin will be removed and thestring pulls up and catches themouse by its neck.
Kinobet de Leon illustrates how a bayya-ong (Bamboo mouse trap) is done.
The Bayya-ongs are then positioned in various areas of the fields to trap as many mice as possible.
In histories past, rituals played a significant role in the farming cycle. Peraltain his study for instance observed the key position of taro and pigs in said rituals.I’waks look back to fond memories of butchering pigs on several occasions, thereason why ritual houses called “abunan” are maintained. It was here whererelatives converged and partook in the meat which was offered in the “purong”, aritual done to assure that a newly opened garden will last awhile and yield a bountifulharvest. About August or September, the “sab-ong” was practiced to celebrate thefirst harvest of taro. A pig is butchered followed by the cooking of the gathered rootcrops which was shared and eaten with the neighborhood. The farmer who bringshome the first harvest is welcomed by a ritual called “bunongan” which again isdone in a common household. Finally, the “chakwag” was celebrated for thecommunity harvests, which was done slowly to fend off immediate consumption. Abunan in Alang - Salacsac
But the prioritization of needs and the perceived lack of practicalitygiven the expenses surrounding the celebration made the conduct of rituals amere survival of the past. In communities where there is the presence of aBaptist or Protestant church, harvest festivals are celebrated with the pastorsin chapels or in churches administering. It is no wonder that the political head of Alang-Salacsac wouldinsinuate how better off the socialization be with the butchering of a pig ortwo. At Amelong-Labeng, the Barangay Captain could afford to butcher asmall pig to welcome our presence since the raising of native pigscomplements the agricultural activities. Interestingly, dogs too are raised insizeable numbers not only to serve as companions in the gardens but alsobecause dog meat is a source of additional income. Chapel of Baptist Ministry in Labeng
In a set up where fields and gardens have to bemonitored time and again, a sexual division of labor is inplace, although informants claim that agricultural activities areshared by both sexes most of the time. They also draw the linebetween tasks that are heavy and those that are menial. As such, clearing particularly the felling of trees, thepreparation of seed beds, digging ditches or check dams arethe exclusive province of males. Weeding and harvestingmeanwhile is female turf especially with certain types ofvegetables that necessitate gentle hands. At Boyasyas, elders say that planting and harvesting stillfollow the “ammoyo or chinahonan” or community work,akin to “bataris or bawid” where members of the communityare hired to do the labor.
Site clearing and burning ofselected swidden fields areusually done by males.
Manlinis (Cleaning) andMandamon (weeding)maintenance are usuallydone by females ( aside fromdoing household chores).
1. Bayo or Rice Pounding 2. Ta-ep – Elimination of Rice Husks 3. Ready to cook rice It is common among I’wak family members to share in the labor before any fruits of production can be consumed or shared by the household.
At Li’bawan and Tuyungan, the well-off or I’waks withbigger lands to cultivate hire labor per dia or per day.Children’s participation in the agricultural cycle is seen fromtheir typical roles as errand boys or girls, or in performinghousehold chores like washing of dishes or clothes or takingcare of their younger siblings while their parents are out in thefield. Sometimes they are asked to plant if not to shoo thebirds away. This explains why the dropout rate amongchildren in the schools of Kayapa is high given the odd jobsthat they have to do. The elderly like in the past continue thetradition of passing on to the young oral histories of the past.
Alang- Salacsac Farm ImplementsThere is little industrial art among the I’waks save from thegarden tools and farm implements which are either homemadeor obtained from the markets. The details that go into thefarming cycle necessitate a tool or equipment appropriate forthe process. Such range from…
Man-made “carts” are used to transport chopped off firewoods, vegetables, and other heavy products from one place to another.Tiger grass for softbroom-making
The practice of swidden agriculture has given the I’waks a moresettled way of life. Generally houses about 3-4 meters in size, and 200-500 meters apart are located where the gardens are. This enables thehousehold owners to tend their gardens or fields without having to walk longdistances, save for those whose garden plots are laid along slopes of themountains. Informants say that they do not find any difficulties with thisexcept during the harvest time when crops planted in higher elevationsrequired a longer duration of gathering. Dwellings are constructed such thatspaces beneath the floor are left open for the domestication of animalslike pigs, ducks, chickens, or dogs as the case may be. I’wak Traditional Houses from the 6 Culture Centers
PigGoat Domestication of animals is a significant part of I’wak subsistence Chicken Carabao
Buyasyas Upland RiceBasically, the I’wak people have self-sustaining household economies. Production isgeared towards household consumption but in the later years, outside trade/exchangehas been encouraged. As a result, introduction of rice as a staple food replaced thetraditional taro/sweet potato food. But even at present, these crops are still cultivated Crop rotation has also guaranteed them a stable source of food supply. Although it was already mentioned that rice harvests may fall several months short, the availability of taro and sweet potato the whole year round compensates for what is lacking. A household (a nuclear family) then is able to eat three regular meals with rice as staple (particularly at Boyasyas, Li’bawan, and Tuyungan).
In periods when the families ran out of rice, sweet potato or tarobecomes a replacement. Otherwise in Amelong-Labeng and Alang-Salacsacsweet potato remains a staple. Viands range from camote or taro tops orbeans dashed with a few slices of meat. Poultry is eaten occasionally. With the onset of trade and theirinteraction with people in the mainstream, the I’waks like anyone else eatcanned goods, noodles, biscuits etc. a far cry from those days when theywere totally dependent on taro production and consumption. Sweet Potato Taro & other rootcrops
The presence of one or two retail stores at least in eachculture center has allowed their use of fragrant and laundry soap,shampoo, condiments, instant coffee, lard, salt, even junk food withmoney obtained from farm produce. It is given thus, that crops fromeither the fields or the gardens are first and foremost for homeconsumption. I’waks claim that for smaller family sizes (3-5 householdmembers) food gathered is enough. It is a reality however, that manyI’wak households have on the average 6 to 8 children (the biggestbeing 11) and this is where food source and consumption become aproblem.
For those able to produce surpluses, they have entered themarket sphere. Many of them have taken advantage of improved roadaccess by planting cash crops. Here they contribute to local economy.Crops are hauled to the town proper then brought to the vegetableterminal at Bambang. Like any upland producer, however, they hagglefor reasonable prices and have to deal with the law of supply anddemand. More often in their desire to get their goods disposed with, theybecome prey to prices dictated by the middlemen.
This is the reason that farming becomes intensive. They realize that theiryields are not comparable to crops produced with commercial fertilizers.They admit thus, that since crops maintained organically do not sell fast asmiddlemen prefer robust-looking farm produce, they are forced to invest infarm inputs like commercial fertilizers, high-yield varieties etc. Pineapples Chayote Sweet Potato Tomatoes abound in Li’bawan
The first harvests then go to paying for farm inputs for the succeeding cycle. Inthe economic equation, part of the proceeds go to household needs like rice,clothes and at other times medicines for those who get sick. For those locatedin mountainous terrains, the absence of farm to market roads adds to theireconomic burden. Since trekking the mountain trails take a solid one or twohours, and bringing the produce to the terminals requires the services ofJeepney drivers, they have to pay freight rates that soar high during the rainyseason when roads are at their worst.
Gardeners too, have to contend with seasonal problems like the onsetof heavy rains or typhoons during the wet season (July to September) orthe shortage of water in summer particularly at Alang Salacsac. Farmerscomplain about crops getting rotten and no longer commandingcompetitive prices once they reach the market. Thus, while they areable to generate income enough to tide them over the next cropping,often they ran into debts particularly when their produce do not sellhigh.Part of their frustration is that while they are able to feed their families,seldom are they able to send their children to school. Those that doattend school finish until high school or two years in college, since theproblem is always with sustaining them. It is for this reason that somego to other places to look for odd jobs (like being hired helpers orlaborers or working in mines) that can at least send money home. Also,the problem is worsened by the fact that the schools are located indistant places like in Tuyungan and Li’bawan so that children almostalways drop out from classes because of exhaustion.
Moreover, their timidity also gets in the way when negotiating for things ormatters that affect them. It is revealing however, that they attempt to getintegrated into the mainstream by actively participating in political andsocial assemblies at the barangay level. This gives them a measure of self-fulfillment and security that their representatives speak in their behalf. Assuch in spite of their relative poverty, they are not burdens to the localgovernment.
In tropical developing territories, shifting cultivation in its many diverseforms remains a pervasive practice (En. Wikipedia:2010). That it hassurvived today in places like those occupied by the I’waks shows that it isa flexible and highly adaptive means of production. But knowledgesuch as this has been subjected to a lot of criticisms particularly fromothers’ impression that it has contributed much to the degradation of theforest. Critics are quick to judge the practice as destructive since they donot see past the clearing of forests and the felling of trees and do notperceive “often ecologically stable cycles of cropping and fallowing”(http://en.wikipedia.org: 2010) Joseph Cornell and Michelle Miller (ofWashington Environmental Information Coalition) point out that: “in areas which have not experienced rapid population growthand where sufficient lands exists, swidden has proven more sustainableand about as productive as more energy-intensive methods”
Although at the moment, the research team has only a crudeestimate as to the number of residents occupying I’wak territory,(the team is currently doing a census survey of the I’waks in theirculture centers), it is safe to say that their population has notincreased significantly as to endanger their enclaves. Moreover, asindigenous peoples familiar with indigenous knowledge, the I’waksare very sensitive and caring of their environment. Being able tocultivate the soil properly and over a sufficiently large area, theirswidden result in “a mosaic of agricultural, secondary and relativelyundisturbed ecosystems that imitate more closely naturaldisturbance regimes than does mechanized modern agriculture”.Since they retain several crop species in each field along with usefultrees, such a practice has been shown to have characteristicsconducive to biodiversity conservation (Cornell and Miller:2007).
Having cultivated these fields over a period of time, I’waks haveknowledge essential to the conservation and management of theirenvironment. Knowing which crops to plant at a particular time, nurturingthem with organic fertilizers, or with very little intervention, they get a “fewyears’ worth of annual crops, and finally a full-fledged cash tree cropplantation that eventually give way to the regrowth of the natural forest”(Cornell and Miller: 2007).Moreover, the fact that they grow different varieties of crops enables themto minimize the risk of harvest failure (Tebtebba:2008). Having learned toplant new crop varieties (from taro and sweet potato), along with thedomestication of animals (with the shift from its major function as food forrituals to food for home consumption), they have ensured their survivalover the years. Furthermore, their awareness of which crops to plant withspecific soils have made them selective of forest lands to clear.Familiarity with more recent techniques of cultivation like sloping landtechnology has enabled them from keeping the mountain sides fromerosion. The use of contour lines in some areas has guaranteed safecultivation and the promise of better harvests. Keeping vegetableproduction at a minimum with enough surplus to dispose at the marketprotect the lands from overuse. As such, “contrary to the image ofprimitive Third-World farmers irresponsibly destroying precious forest,
On the other hand, there are a number of changes which the I’wak farmer hasto contend with if he is to ensure the proper and continued use of this centuries-old practice: the use of commercial fertilizers as well as machines for intensivecultivation. Although they admit that the use of commercial fertilizersguarantees that their crops command higher prices, (and which they do to aminimum), this runs counter to the traditional way of doing things which asearlier stated has done much to keep soil nutrients intact. The facility withwhich machines have brought about the clearing of lands could tempt the I’wakinto using the technology to hasten the clearing of more lands with wantondisregard for environmental conservation. Extensive farming activities in Li’bawan necessitate the use of modern farm equipment such as hand tractor and a rice thresher for post production.
This is in the light of the “unconscious” neglect of passing on to the nextgeneration indigenous knowledge held in esteem. It helps thus, that some ofthe children that go to state colleges or universities earn degrees inagriculture rather than become professionals elsewhere in the future. Butlike those in the mainstream longing for material advancement and financialsecurity of their children, I’waks wish that their children finish somethingelse.Moreover, although respondents say that the local government pursuesagricultural policies deemed to improve the market value of crops produced,there seems to be the absence of a direct consultation with them on howbest to address issues such as this.Although the government has been active in providing access roads, theI’waks yet have to make local officials realize that there is more to buildingstructures that to aggressively address problems to assure the latter ofcontinuously “improving land directly engaged in swidden instead ofincreasing areas under slash and burn cultivation”.
Subject Adaptability/Application to other areas of study This study about the I’waks maybe integrated in the followingcourses namely:Lessons on Ecology – Ecology is the scientific study of the relation of livingorganisms with each other and their surroundings. The I’waks’ harmony withnature sustained them for many generations. Until now, the I’wak culture centershave sustained both biotic as well as abiotic components that generate and regulatethe ecosystems in the place which provided goods and services that helpedsustained their general well-being.Lessons on Anthropology - Anthropology is the scientific study of the origin andbehavior of man, including the development of societies and cultures. The study onthe ethno-ecological adaptation of the I’waks of Kayapa tried to trace the growthand development of the I’waks as a people in several culture centers, growth inpopulation, including patterns of movement as part of their adaptation and coping ina fast changing world; Likewise, using the approach of synchronic as well asdiachronic methods, it takes into account the I’waks presence in relation to othersocieties or tribal groups in the old administrative region of I’tuy and details theI’waks’ adaptive strategies considering the changing signs of the times.
Lessons on History - History is the discovery, collection, organization, andpresentation of information about past events. In an attempt to reconstruct I’waks’history, tracing of reliable secondary sources entailed pouring over documentswritten by Spanish chroniclers and friars which were translated in English byAmerican authors. But these entries were far and between, hence oral history hadalso been used particularly to validate information taken from secondary sources.Lessons on Sociology - Sociology is the study of society which uses variousmethods of investigation and critical analysis to develop and refine a body ofknowledge about human social activity, often with the goal of applying suchknowledge to the pursuit of social welfare. The study on the I’waks utilizes largelya qualitative approach in documenting their ethno-ecological adaptation and seehow these adaptive strategies have changed or were sustained overtime, providingan explanation of the importance of such a technology in their over-all survival asa people. It also takes into account the I’waks socio-economic activities. Selected Lessons on Agriculture - Agriculture is the cultivation of animals,plants, and other life forms for food, fiber and other products used to sustain life.Since Agriculture is the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization,a documentation on the I’waks’ adaptive strategies on this aspect, wherebyfarming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured theirdevelopment of civilization may serve an excellent example .
CONCLUSIONS Based from the above discussion of findings, the following conclusionswere arrived at:1.The I’waks of Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya are an ethno-linguistic group which fromthe documentary sources are a people that practice shifting cultivation, and wetagriculture, and these economic activities have sustained them for manygenerations;2.On the basis of a semi-census survey, I’wak culture centers are found in themountain enclaves of Barangays Besong, Alang-Salacsac (Bileg, Lower & UpperBolo, Landing & Alang) Kayapa Proper West (Tuyungan & Li’bawan), Amilong-Labeng (Poblacion, Cawayan, Sayuding, Saguipat), Ansipsip (Dumolpos), Buyasyas,Kayapa (Talnag, Mataba, Parago) and Buyasyas, Sta Fe (Kapangan, Bocaog);3.Given the physiographic make-up of these culture centers, the I’waks haveadapted themselves to the environment through the practice of swidden and wetagriculture. These economic activities depended upon which culture center ismentioned. Thus far, it may be said thus, that while a number of practices isgenerally shared by the I’waks, there are slight differences in the manner by whicheconomic activities are done.4.Since most I’wak communities are located in man-made and or natural plateausor at the foot of mountains, the swidden cultivation system is largely practicedexcept in those centers which have gradual land elevations and which abound inwater, where wet agriculture (Li’bawan and Tuyungan) is practiced. A farmingcycle depended on which crops are grown. Moreover, land utilization varies. Some
5. Rituals played a significant role in the farming cycle of the I’waks but the prioritization of needs and the perceived lack of practicality given the expenses surrounding the celebration made their conduct a mere survival of the past; In a set up where fields and gardens have to be monitored time and again, a sexual division of labor is in place. The I’waks also draw the line between tasks that are heavy (men) and those that are menial (women); Children’s participation in the agricultural cycle is seen from their typical roles as errand boys or girls, or in performing household chores like washing of dishes or clothes or taking care of their younger siblings while their parents are out in the field; There is little industrial art among the I’waks save from the garden tools and farm implements which are either homemade or obtained from the markets;
The practice of swidden agriculture has given the I’waks a more settled way of life. Dwellings are constructed such that spaces beneath them are left open for domestication of animals; Crop rotation also guaranteed the I’waks a stable source of food supply. The availability of taro and sweet potato the whole year round compensates for what is lacking during the lean months.6. In their overall survival as a people, the I’waks have to contend with some conditions brought forth by the changing signs of the times namely:a. While originally producing agricultural outputs only for home consumption, the I’waks have entered into the market sphere to deal with surplus products, having bigger families with growing needs; they haggle for reasonable prices and have to deal with middlemen. More often in their desire to get their goods disposed with, they become prey to prices dictated by the middlemen
b. For those located in mountainous terrains, the absence of farm to market roads adds to their economic burden. The I’waks have to pay high freight rates especially during the rainy season when roads are at their worst; they have to contend with seasonal problems like the onset of heavy rains or typhoons during the wet season or the shortage of water in summer;c. While the I’waks are able to feed their families, seldom are they able to send their children to school. Those that do attend school finish until high school or two years in college, since the problem is always with sustaining them.d. I’wak’s timidity also gets in the way when negotiating for things or matters that affect them.e. As indigenous peoples familiar with indigenous knowledge, the I’waks are very sensitive and caring of their environment.f. Having learned to plant new crop varieties (from taro and sweet potato), along with the domestication of animals (with the shift from its major function as food for rituals to food for home consumption), they have ensured their survival over the years.
RECOMMENDATIONS1.To ensure the proper and continued use of this centuries-old practice of swiddenfarming and wet agriculture which supported the I’waks for many generations, theuse of commercial fertilizers as well as machines for intensive cultivation must haveto be minimized. It is therefore, strongly recommended that government agenciesboth national and local, spearhead a rigorous information dissemination drive aboutthe right and proper way of doing swidden fields and wet agriculture;2. Since the facility with which machines have brought about the clearing of landscould tempt the I’wak into using the technology to hasten the clearing of morelands with wanton disregard for environmental conservation, informal education,trainings and workshops among the I’wak gardeners and farmers can capacitatethem in assessing their knowledge in the light of the “unconscious” neglect ofpassing on to the next generation indigenous knowledge held in esteem by pastI’waks;
3. It helps that some of the children that go to state colleges or universities earn degrees in agriculture rather than become professionals elsewhere in the future. But like those in the mainstream longing for material advancement and financial security of their children, I’waks wish that their children finish something else. Scholarship grants and other educational opportunities for the I’waks therefore is a much needed relief and support given the financial constraints of majority of the I’waks;4. Moreover, although respondents say that the local government pursues agricultural policies deemed to improve the market value of crops produced, there seems to be the absence of a direct consultation with them on how best to address issues such as this. A periodic consultation should therefore, take place with agriculturists assigned at the municipality so that measures to improve crop produce may be taught, with the view of sustaining the people at the same time protecting the environment.
5. Compared to Amelong-labeng, Buyasyas, Kayapa Proper West and Besong, Alang-Salacsac experiences water shortage; It is therefore highly recommended that non-governmental organizations, private and state agencies alike look into the possibility of establishing linkages with the local government Unit of Kayapa to address this problem of the I’waks of Salacsac as part of their CSR;6. The building of water reservoirs for natural springs and planting trees in watershed areas are also strongly recommended for these things can preserve and trap the much needed water for household and agricultural consumption rather than continuous flow of water that result to wastage;7. Since the high elevation, the cold climate of most I’wak culture centers, and market demands, affect crop production, the exploration of other crops that can thrive in these areas aside from the usual vegetables or crops being planted is very much recommended and;8. Above all, since it has been proven historically that the I’wak people is one of the original settlers of Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, a more comprehensive and dynamic integration of this group of people in the political, socio-economic and moral fibers/spheres of society be made for the preservation, protection, promotion of their indigenous knowledge, systems and practices for their growth and development as a people.
REFERENCESBlair & Robertson, eds. “The Philippine Islands”Bonifacio, Ramos V. 2003. “ The Abong: A Witness to the I’waks Simplicity,Tranquility, and Accord with Nature,” Journal of Northern Luzon, Vol.Xxxi (January – December, 2003)Castillo, Rayda Joy B. 1999. “Ethnography and Life Cycle of the I’waks,”Journal of Northern Luzon, Vol. 28-29 (July 1999 – Jan. 2000)Cornell, Joseph D. 2007. “Slash & Burn,” Encyclopedia of Earth. WashingtonD.C.,: Environmental Coalition, National Council for Science & EnvironmentEmber & Ember, 1997. Anthropology. Prentice Hall: Simon & Scheuter (Asia)Pte Ltd. 317 Alexandra Road, SingaporeKeesing, F. 1962. “The Ethnohistory of Northern Luzon” , Stanford UniversityPress: Stanford, California, USAPeralta, Jesus T. 1982. “I’wak Alternative Strategies for Subsistence: A Micro-Economic Study: The Iwak of Boyasyas, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines.”Anthropological Papers, National Museum, No. 11. Manila: National MuseumPeralta, Jesus T. 1977. “The I’wak,” Filipino Heritage; The Making of A Nation,Metro Manila: Lahing PilipinoScott, William H. 1988. Trans. from Antolin F. , “Notices of the Pagan Igorots inthe Interior of the Island of Manila”, UST Press: Manila, PhilippinesTEBTEBBA Foundation, 2008. “Guide on Climate Change & IndigenousPeople”, Valley Printing Specialist: Baguio City, Philippines