A dash of Ifugao humor

>> Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ramon S. Dacawi 

 (Although they’re effective only when orally retold, we attempted to put into print some Ifugao jokes that, because of the lack of proper intonation, diction and intonation, are not as effective as when they are shared to perk up gatherings. – RD)
 Indigenous wisdom and knowledge.  Respect for the environment and understanding of sustainability. Thorough grasp of landscape engineering. Innovation, creativity, sheer industry, clear vision, mission, goals, objectives and targets. 
 Ecological and management gobbledygook may help you understand how in the world the ancient Ifugaos could have carved out their magnificent and extensive rice terraces from the mountainsides. 
 Exclude forced labor as a strength in your analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats -- slavery was never part of Ifugao history and culture. Wit and humor, as much as betel nut chewing, are. 
Include the element of laughter and your hypothesis will be on the right track. It's no joke, especially if you're dead serious and at your wit's end figuring out how they were able to do it, sans iron implements, much less a bulldozer. 
If shared laughter is off-tangent, what else could have sustained and inspired our Ifugao forebears during the tedious, cumbersome, protracted and back-breaking toil of leveling and stonewalling the terraces? 
 If not humor, what pushed them on to build the upland paddies that, we're told, would go halfway around the world if placed end to end? 
 Ask any Cordilleran about the Ifugao's natural wit and inclination to humor and laughter. They'll readily dish out a sampling to perk up your day, sometimes at the expense of the Ifugao character. 
Ifugao jokes are aplenty and continue to evolve, such that amusing anecdotes from other tribes are often mistaken to be Ifugao in character and origin. 
Even one-liners are enough signs and proof of the preponderance of wit and humor in the Ifugao mind. 
The late Baguio journalist Jose "Peppot" Ilagan and this writer realized this while trying to unwind after conducting a basic writing workshop for kids in Lagawe, the capital town of Ifugao province.  
We met provincial prosecutor Joseph Tumapang,  who generously treated us to rounds of beer at his sister's restaurant near the provincial capitol. After several bottles, the host turned serious and complained aloud that many of his lawyer friends in Baguio always expected a joke every time they saw an Ifugao. 
To avoid a clash over the issue, Peppot went to the comfort room. After relieving himself, he came out, grinning ear-to-ear and said: "Sorry, fiscal, but I just discovered there's only one comfort room here. From the door, I looked up and saw the sign, 'He or she but not together.’ 
The same advisory is posted on the bathroom doors of the youth hostel in Kiangan, former capital town of Ifugao. 
Later, along  the Lagawe highway, Peppot spotted a hairdresser's salon sign. Notwithstanding his receding hairline, he insisted on posing for a photograph beside the shop's trade name so he could mail the print to then President Fidel Ramos. It read: "Hair 2000." 
A gasoline station in Banaue had no restroom. Instead of building one, the management put out a positive sign to discourage male motorists from answering the call of nature upon the establishment wall. It read: "Only Dogs May Urinate Here."
A Banaue native narrated how another Ifugao was emptying his bladder when he looked up and saw the sign. Too late. 
"So he raised his left foot and finished his personal business." 
Like most jokes, Ifugao humor is better told than read, considering the impact of animated narration. Anecdotes with local color are also best when told in the local dialect and its diction. Something is always lost in the translation, given the nuances of language. 
Perhaps translating the following dialogues in Ilocano  would help readers get the drift: 
 An old man halted a Baguio-bound bus in Kiangan. The conductor peered out of the door and politely asked, "Papanan yo, ama [Where are you going, old man]?"
The old man shook his head, pointed to the door and replied, "Ania dayta nga saludsod? Dita uneg ti bus mo, ania pay ngay koma; isu ngarud nga pinarak [What question is that? Inside your bus, where else?; precisely that' s why I flagged it down]." 
He sat beside another Ifugao who was having a severe attack of hiccups. Wanting to help, he gave his seatmate shock treatment - a hard slap on the back. It worked but the impact drew anger from the seatmate who complained to a policeman among the passengers. 
“Apay kano nga sinipat mo ti katugaw mo? (Why did you slap your seatmate?),” the officer asked the old man. 
“Sinipat ko a, apo pulit, ta kumittab mit (I had to slap him, Mr. Officer, because he was trying to bite me).”
 Along the way, another Ifugao passenger handed a bill to the conductor and waited for his fare change. "Naggapuan na daytoy [Where from]?" The conductor inquired. "Kaniak [From me]," the passenger retorted. "Papanan na [Where to]?" The conductor asked. "Kaniam [To you]."
Upon arrival in Baguio, the Kiangan patriarch went to Burnham Park for his betel nut chew. A policeman saw him spit on the ground and approached. The Ifugao stood up and placed his left foot on the red spittle. The cop ordered him to raise his foot. The old man raised his right. When the cop told him to lift the other foot, he pointed out the obvious: "Mr. Officer, you know I can't lift both feet or else I'll fall down." 
Ignoring the need for a cutting permit, an Ifugao woodcarver felled a huge tree, attracting a forest guard who rushed to investigate. "Apay nga pinukan mo daytoy kayo [Why did you cut this tree]?," the guard demanded. Matter-of-factly, the carver answered, "Pinukan ko a ta saan ko ngarud nga maparut [I cut it because I can't pull it out of the ground]." 
"Adda kadi permisom, wenno kasuratan nga mabalin mo nga pukanen [Do you have permission or a document allowing you to fell it]?," the irate guard inquired. "Awan, ngem pinukan ko ta inmulak  daytoy [None, but I cut it because I planted it.]"
"Adda papeles mo nga mangpaneknek nga mulam [Do you have papers to prove you planted it]?" "Awan, ngem ammok mulak daytoy ta nag-tubo. Adda kadi inmula yon nga taga-gobyerno nga nagtubo [None, but I know I planted this because it grew. Have you in government ever planted anything that grew]?"
Exasperated, the forest guard shouted in the vernacular, "Don't be a smart aleck; talk sensibly or else I'll arrest you." Unperturbed, the Ifugao retorted, "Are you angry? If so, wait while I set on this chainsaw so you can talk with it."
His anger turning to fear, the poor guard shifted to friendly mode. "Ok, I'll not book you anymore. Let’s be friends, instead. Is your water potable? Can I drink it?" The logger offered his jug and, with the straight face, told his new friend, "You can even chew it, if that's what you want."
Having had too much to drink one evening, an Ifugao youth fell asleep on the roadside while on his way home. A policeman on the beat came to check, pointing his flashlight directly to the teener’s face, waking him up.
"Oh, so the moon came down,” the boy uttered in disbelief, prompting the cop to ask if he was drunk. The boy swore he was sober.
"If you're not drunk, can you recognize me?"
 "Yes, sir, you're a police officer. How about me, sir, do you know me?" 

 "Then you're the one who's drunk."


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