In Balbalan, Kalinga, the town recently celebrated its very first Binungol Festival, shining a spotlight on the unique 'binungol' cooking and dining customs of the local subtribes, deeply rooted in Cordilleran cuisine. The event took place on October 25 at the Municipal Hall Compound in Balbalan Proper.
The festival offered a diverse range of activities, with the most eagerly awaited being the preparation and sharing of binungol dishes by various subtribes. Festival-goers relished the opportunity to savor this traditional meal during lunch, connecting with the heart of the culture. This festival marked the first step in preserving and promoting the unique traditions of not only Balbalan but also the broader Cordillera festivals, celebrating the rich heritage of the Igorot community.
The Essence of Binungol
Binungol, a well-known dish in Kalinga, is cherished for its bold and savory flavors. It's made using 'agurong,' a type of freshwater mollusk, mixed with indigenous ingredients such as bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and bird's eye chili. This local delicacy, with its roots in Balbalan, has now evolved into an annual town festival under the guidance of the Local Government Unit, led by Mayor Almar Malannag.
As the festival unfolded, the true essence of Binungol became apparent, with its tantalizing flavors and cultural significance taking center stage.
The festival offered a diverse range of activities, with the most eagerly awaited being the preparation and sharing of binungol dishes by various subtribes. Festival-goers relished the opportunity to savor this traditional meal during lunch, connecting with the heart of the culture.
The festival also hosted a series of contests and traditional activities, fostering a competitive spirit that resonated with the crowd:
In the 'manbayo' competition, the Buaya subtribe emerged victorious, with Banao in second place and Dao-angan in third place. These contests showcased not only the skill but also the unity among the subtribes.
The 'man-aba' contest presented a challenge: participants demonstrated the correct way to carry a child. The Dao-angan subtribe secured the top position, while the Banao subtribe claimed second place, reinforcing the connection between tradition and community.
Another intriguing competition involved creating fire without using matches or lighters. The Buaya subtribe excelled in the 'mangibed/mangulili' event, clinching first place, while Banao took second place, and Salegseg followed in third. This contest highlighted the practical skills passed down through generations.
Binungol Eating Challenge
The 'binungol eating challenge' tested participants' tolerance for spicy food. The Poswoy subtribe emerged victorious, with Salegseg and Banao subtribes as runners-up. It emphasized the bravery and culinary prowess of the subtribes.
Regina Cruz, the Municipal Information Officer, extended her appreciation to all who contributed to the event and to those who attended the festival. She stated, "Thank you to everyone who helped and came to Balbalan. We are all part of the 1st Binungol Festival. We made history today." This event marked a significant moment in Balbalan's history, celebrating the culture and culinary traditions of its subtribes while reinforcing the unity and shared history of the Igorot people.
A Celebration of Unity and Heritage in Kalinga and Among Igorots
The inaugural Binungol Festival in Balbalan was more than a local celebration; it was a tribute to the cultural richness and unity among the Igorot people in Kalinga. This festival marked the first step in preserving and promoting the unique traditions of not only Balbalan but also the broader Igorot community.
As this festival becomes an annual tradition, it promises to strengthen the connections among the Igorot people, enabling them to share their distinct flavors and customs. In doing so, it enriches the vibrant cultural tapestry of Kalinga.
The success of the first Binungol Festival reminds us of the importance of celebrating and preserving indigenous traditions throughout the Igorot community. It sets the stage for more inclusive and comprehensive celebrations in the future, fostering unity and recognition of the diverse cultures within Kalinga and among the Igorot people as a whole. Balbalan's Binungol Festival stands as a testament to the enduring traditions and the strong bonds that tie the Igorot people together, not just in Balbalan but throughout Kalinga.