Knowing the Kulpi Festival of Asipulo

>> Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Daniel Codamon

ASIPULO, Ifugao -- Every year in April, this municipality celebrates its town fiesta called “Kulpi’dAsipulo” showcasing culture and traditions of Ifugao people particularly ethno-linguistic groups called “hanglulo” and “Keley-I”.
Local folks say it is important to know origin and symbolism of the celebration to appreciate and enjoy better activities of the fiesta.

According to Ifugao mythology, the ‘Kulpi’ ritual which gave birth to the Kulpi festival began when Ballitok and Cabbigat, considered ancestors of the Ifugao people,  made a hunting expedition to “Kabunyan” (Skyworld) and obtained two varieties of “Botnol” (palay) from  eminent deities, Dalogdogan and Wigan.

When they returned to “kiyyangan”, Ballitok and Cabbigat cleared up some of their vast mountainous domains into terraces  where they planted the  “botnol,”  hence the beginning of the Ifugao rice culture.

In commemoration to magnanimous exploits of their ancestors, the Ifugao people celebrated giving birth to the so-called “kulpi rite”.

Nowadays, the Kulpi is celebrated with the added meaning for fruitful and bountiful rice harvest and display of indigenous cultural customs and traditions of Ifugaos.

Prior to the celebration, participating households prepare intoxicating rice wines.

Elders from the group of animist priests or shamans perform the “Baki” (incantation) while the “Mumbaki” (native priest) mumbles  the “Ngilin” meaning sharp, pointed and tooth-shaped intended to sustain a limitless supply of the rice wine during the actual rice wine drinking ceremony as part of the fiesta celebration.      

The prayer mumbled by the priest also aims to easily and swiftly satiate the craving human appetite for the rice wine even for just a drop and spoonful and knocking them down but without any untoward incident to happen for the entire duration of the festivity.

Featured during the Kulpi rite are the “Baltong” (stomping of feet), “Bahliw/Appangal” and “Liw-liwa”  in which ballads with respective melody and meanings are participated in by both males  and females  in exchanging messages, songs airing satisfaction, sadness, achievements, romantic exploits, despair and other experiences in life.

To add more entertainment and fun, there are now additional events like civic and float parade, agro-fair, cultural activities such as native dances, chanting of the “Hudhud”, indigenous games, street dancing and ball games with the rice wine drinking as the climax of the occasion.

NCCA lawyer cites challenges in cultural preservation
Pryce Quintos

BAGUIO CITY -- Striking a balance between protecting cultural property and creating new works inspired by cultural property needs to be a national conversation.

Atty. Trixie Angeles-Cruz of the legal counsel of National Commission for Culture and Arts bared this addressing queries on cultural preservation during a presscon for the 6th Tam-Awan International Arts Festival held here as part of National Heritage Month.

Cruz mentioned Republic Act No. 1066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, which she said recognizes and takes jurisdiction over all aspects that are culture and heritage and heritage in nature. The NCCA coordinates with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples in protecting cultural heritage, whether it is intangible (such as practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, and skills) or tangible (such as buildings and historic places, monuments, and artifacts).

She encouraged indigenous cultural communities to register their works and other cultural materials to the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property or the PRECUP, which is the registry of all cultural property of the country deemed of significant importance to our cultural heritage.

When people register with the PRECUP, she added, it “sets into motion the protective mechanisms of both the IPRA (Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act) and RA 1066 on the permission system for the use of intangibles.”

This means that “copyright” over a cultural property does not just apply for tangible cultural materials but to intangible culture as well. So the acquisition of Free, Prior and Informed Consent or FPIC does not only apply to ancestral domains or incursions in a community but also to, for example, an outside community’s performance of an indigenous culture’s dance.

The Heritage Act provides a mechanism for this—that is, if the community first registers its cultural expression with the PRECUP because, as Cruz put it, “everybody now is put on notice that this [cultural expression] belongs to that community and permission may be obtained from that community.”

She said the Heritage Act, however, is a balancing of two interests. The protection of cultural heritage is supposed to be there to inspire the creation of new works, but derivative works are protected under copyright and freedom of expression. The use of articulated works  such as cultural heritage  must balance the interest of cultural community’s expression with that need to create new expressions.

“We can say that the law will protect the cultural heritage with absolute certainty, but the Constitution also guarantees the freedom of expression and it guarantees the protection of derivative works.” Where the balance must be struck, she said, is a matter for policy.


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