What used to be held every four years is now held yearly. Good news for people like me who don’t need to wait for years before the next one comes along. The Imbayah is a prestige feast given by affluent Ifugao people called kadangyan. There are village Imbayah feasts but the one held at the last week of April in Banaue has been institutionalized.
Lilymae and I arrived Friday morning, hence we were able to watch the Mr. and Ms. Imbayah pre-pageant (what’s a town celebration without a beauty pageant?) and the Banaue’s Got Talent contest.
The main event, however, at least for outsiders like me, is the street parade participated in by the different baranggays of Banaue which took place today.
The parade starts at the Immaculate Conception School grounds and ends at the municipal grounds where the groups dance and re-enact rituals to large crowd of excited locals, tourists, and special guests.
Because animal sacrifice, drinking of wine, and sharing of rice is a common feature in Cordillera rituals, many of the presentations featured this.
While other baranggays were content with faux animals, Baranggay San Fernando actually killed a live boar!
If you’re used to lively street dancing such as you find in the Sinulog, Kaamulan, and other festivals, you might find the presentations at the Imbayah a bit too low-key. However, that’s precisely the charm. There are no hired choreographers to set-up the presentations so you get to watch something that the community themselves created out of their own experiences and knowledge. If I may use the term, it’s a little bit more “authentic” than those highly-choreographed and synchronized extravaganzas.
In the afternoon, under a lightly drizzling sky, we stood by the road to see the wooden scooter racers wheez by to the finish line at the plaza. These scooters are 100% handcrafted from wood and display Ifugao ingenue in design and wood carving.
This one is really different from the rest.
There were also native games for children and adults which were fun to watch mainly because everyone were having some good old fashion fun. I really admired the Ifugao kids’ skill with the top.
The one below is a race where women walk with a native basket called laba on top of their heads.
The most exciting game though was the leg wrestling.