Pilgrim's Knapsack

Pilgrim's Knapsack

FOOD TRIP: An Ivatan Feast

AN IVATAN FEAST

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Any great fiesta in Batanes will not happen without the entire settlement participating. I’ve seen it in Mahatao during the blessing of the newly-renovated Church and in Ivana during the feastday of St. Joseph the Worker. As early as 2:00 am, men slaughtered cows and pigs and the women cooked their traditional food and rice afterwards. The children also have a contribution in helping their mothers prepare for the feast. A typical feast contains upland rice, meat and rootcrops.

Not everything that we can find ordinarily in other places can be seen in Batanes. There are no funeral parlors, no movie houses, no malls. Root crops, upland rice, some fruits abound but other foods are imported from the mainland. It was only in 2007 that the Bishop blessed a small market in Basco because the people are self-sufficient. They use the abaya[1] leaves as plates; upo as drinking vessel; cogon grass as roof; and another kind of grass as basket to mention few. Their resourcefulness is amazing. In stormy season when the rice supply is depleted and there’s no means of transportation, they can survive eating wakay (camote) and ube (whitish in color) and luñes[2]. If potable water is not available for a long period of time, the sea water can be cooked with garlic and onion for them to drink. They recycle their left-over food and call it balance for the following day. They adapt to their condition. They taught me how to be resourceful, innovative and flexible.

[1]Kamansi in Luzon.
[2] Pieces of fried overcooked pork in lard which can be stored for a long period of time even without refrigeration.

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Fr. Zenki Manabat of the Prelature of Batanes indulged in another Ivatan feast when he went back to the Beautiful Province of Batanes in the summer of 2010. Whew! I miss Batanes. Here, the scenery is for free. Not mentioning, the peace of mind brought about by the serenity of the place.

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