Cordillera Festival hosts indigenous tribes from the mountainous highlands of Luzon

In Baguio City the Grand Cordillera Festival is held every November and celebrates the culture and tradition of the major ethnic group of the region. This week-long festival features tribal dancing and thanksgiving ceremonials. This is a great time to visit Baguio and take part in its amazing cultural diversity. The region consists of the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province and Apayao. The regional center is the Chartered City of Baguio, officially known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines. Its rugged terrain and breath-taking topography have been home to the sturdy and industrious indigenous tribes collectively called the Igorot, while its climate has bred an equally unique culture distinct from that of the country’s lowland colonized regions. It is located in the North-Central part of Luzon and encompasses most of the areas within the Cordillera Central mountain range of Luzon. It is bounded by Ilocos Norte and Cagayan in the North, Pangasinan and Nueva Vizcaya in the South, Cagayan Valley in the East, and the Ilocos Region in the West. It is the country’s only land-locked region. It has a mountainous topography and dubbed as the “Watershed Cradle of North Luzon” as it hosts nine major rivers that provide continuous water for irrigation and energy for Northern Luzon.

Cordillera Festival celebrated every November, it hosts indigenous tribes from the mountainous highlands of Luzon who come to join in on the Grand Cordillera Festival. This affair brings together ethnic groups from Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao and Mountain Province. Known collectively as Cordillerans, they give festival-goers a rare glimpse into their well-preserved traditions via various cultural presentations and native offerings. The exuberant dance presentations are the main highlight of the festival. Have already seen a stage performance of a Cordillera dance? More likely than not, that was a stylized or modernized version. The real thing promises to be much more fascinating. Authentic Cordillera dances are pure masterpieces. And it’s not just because of how amazingly in sync every move or gesture is with the beat of the accompanying gongs and drums. They are also tremendously interesting to watch because they tell a story. Rituals are a staple in the Cordillera region and you’ll get to see witness a number of these during the festival. Often a combination of dances, songs and chants, rituals are performed as a form of thanksgiving for victory, as part of christenings, weddings and burials, and as a prayer for a specific need such as healing or rain. The program may also feature traditional invocations plus a “loweb,” in which representatives from each tribe bring forward their indigenous products. Unique and traditional, the costumes that the dancers don during the performances are a glimpse into the exceptional weaving skills of the Cordillerans. Most women wear a top called “kambal” and a wrap-around skirt often referred to as “tapis.” The men’s g-string-like clothing is known as “wannes.” You may not notice it right away, but the geometric patterns and symbols of their attires are very intricately designed—definitely one of the best displays of the tribes’ crafty workmanship. Cordillerans are a highly creative and artistic bunch. And this is showcased in many of the stalls set up and demonstrations scheduled during the festival. The stalls offer an array of native products, from little souvenirs to household items for your bed, dining table and living room. Keep an eye out for the wonderfully crafted woven textiles, rugs and baskets. If you’d like to start or already have a weaponry collection, hand-carved versions of bows and arrows, blowguns and spears are usually available as well. A big believer in the power of amulets? You’ll find all sorts of charms with beads and gold or bronze components, including earrings and necklaces that symbolize fertility. The festival is also an opportunity to sample Cordillera delicacies. Don’t miss out on “pinikpikan,” a chicken and vegetable dish that derives its unique flavor from way the chicken is prepared—it’s lightly beaten prior to cooking. A fan of salty eats? “Innasin” uses smoked or cured pork slices preserved using salt. Another must-try for those who don’t mind the smell of German Sauerkraut is “sabeng” or “safeng,” a concoction of water, rice broth and sweet potatoes or cassava that is sealed in an earthen jar for a week.

Cordillera Festival a celebration of the season of bloom in the nation’s Summer Capital, the parade is participated by some elementary and high schools and performing groups in Baguio, the Cordilleras, and neighboring towns. To the delight of hundreds of locals, tourists, and spectators, the event was every part colorful, vibrant, and well, blooming. The region is rich in natural resources and has abundant mineral reserves. Gold, copper, silver, and zinc are among the metallic ores that can be found in the region. Non-metallic reserves include sand, gravel, and sulfur. Although mineral reserves are found all over the region, mining is concentrated in Benguet. Majority of Cordillera’s population engage in farming and small-scale production. Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is rich in ancient culture. It is the home of the indigenous tribe called the Igorot. The way of life of the people in this region existed way back to ancient Filipinos before the Spanish colonization. Cordillera also has various festivals, these includes the Panagbenga or Baguio Flower Festival celebrated every February. The festival highlights are the flower exhibits, garden tours, floral competition, and parade of floats. Other festivals in the region include the Ulalim Festival in Kalinga, Lang-ay Festival in Mountain Province, Banaue Imbayah Festival, and the Tabuk Matagoan Festival. Cordillera is one of the prime tourist destinations in the Philippines. It has many spectacular scenic views and enchantingly cool places. The world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces in the province of Ifugao is considered as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. This structure of about 2000 to 6000 years old is a United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. Other tourist attractions of the region include the Sumaguing Cave in Sagada and the mummy caves in Benguet and Mt. Province. There are four National Parks in the region: Cassamata Hill; Mount Pulag, which is the highest mountain in Luzon; Mount Data; and Balbalasang-Balbalan.

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