Sec Puyat Participates In Punnuk Ritual In Ifugao

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat participated in the water tugging activities to highlight the traditional "punnuk" rituals here last weekend.

Garbed in the traditional Ifugao attire, Puyat together with DOT-Cordillera Regional Director Marie Venus Tan jumped unto on the Hapao River and joined members of the community in the traditional water- tugging game called "guyyudan."

The punnuk ritual is a tradition in Ifugao performed in celebration of a bountiful harvest. Punnuk which is held along the Hapao River, marks the completion of the rice harvest and the beginning of a new agricultural cycle. The ritual highlights the communities continuing respect for their ancestors culture, tradition, and beliefs.

This year is the 20th year anniversary of the Ifugao ritual after it was revived by Baguio-based filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik and Hapao sculptor Lopez Nauyac in 1997 after it stopped for at least a decade.

This is also the second year that Sec. Puyat participated in the punnuk rituals. She took part in the rituals last year when she was an Assistant Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

"It was so nice that we were able to share with them (people of Hungduan) their tradition and culture so I came back," Puyat said.

"Last year, I came since we wanted to promote the heirloom rice of Ifugao known as the tinawon rice in the DA and now I came back to promote the tourism," she said. She added that a way to promote a destination is not only through the culture and traditions but also through food.

The ritual started with a feast at the house of the ritual holder with Ifugao Gov. Pedro Mayam-o, Hungduan Mayor Hilario Bumangaban, Ifugao elders and members of the community and the guests.

Ifugao elders with members of the community particularly from barangays Hapao, Baang and Nunggulungan carrying the "kina'ag," a human- like figure made of rice stalks, and a sacred plant called "dongla" started walking in the procession and met at the Hapao River where the water tugging and other water games were held to highlight the punnuk ritual.

The punnuk water tugging ritual was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity together with tugging rituals and games in Cambodia, the Republic of Korea, and Viet Nam.

This is the third element of the Philippines on the prestigious list, the other two being the "Hudhud" chants of Ifugao and the "Darangen" epic of the Maranao people.

By being included in the UNESCO Representative List, the punnuk tugging ritual must be safeguarded as a living tradition of special significance to local and international communities.

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