The Tomlinson Stone Hagabi, an ancient ceremonial bench from Ifugao, is seeking national recognition as a cultural treasure. The National Museum of the Philippines-Cordillera and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), led by Board Member Joselito Guyguyon, are behind this effort.
A Valuable Part of Ifugao's Heritage
Eulalie Dulnuan, the Supervising Administrative Officer of NMP-Cordillera, aims to create awareness about the significance of the Hagabi in Ifugao's culture. They also want to restore the stone bench or create a replica and protect it for the future. The plan is to celebrate the Hagabi's 110th anniversary on December 25, 2023.
A Historical Gem
The Stone Hagabi has already been declared an Important Cultural Property in the province and in Kiangan. It was created on December 25, 1913, during the inauguration of the Ifugao Sub-Provincial Building in Kiangan. Lieutenant Governor Owen Tomlinson, the Military Governor of Ifugao, initiated its construction to honor Ifugao traditions and thank the community for their support during the American colonial period.
Exploring the Hagabi
The Tomlinson Stone Hagabi is located in front of the Cordillera Regional Museum, WWII Memorial Shrine in Kiangan, Ifugao. A "hagabi" is a large ceremonial bench, often carved from a single tree trunk. It's a symbol of wealth and prestige in Ifugao culture, with rich rituals and celebrations preceding its installation at the owner's residence.
The Grand Hagabi Feast
Raymundo Baguilat's research revealed that during the Stone Hagabi feast, more than 35 carabaos and around 45 pigs were sacrificed. About 200 sacks of rice were consumed, showing the grandeur of the celebration. The Kadangyan, the wealthy elite, held a special place in Ifugao society. They were highly respected, and their opinions carried weight. Even in death, they received exceptional burials.
Frank Jenista described the Stone Hagabi feast as a significant event, featuring speeches, dances, sporting events, and even a memorable scene of excited Ifugaos watching wrestling matches.
A Treasure Worth Preserving
In 2020, an Ifugao Hagabi set a record by selling for PHP 22 million, highlighting the value of these cultural treasures. The Tomlinson Stone Hagabi is a significant part of Ifugao's culture and history. Efforts by NMP-Cordillera and the SP aim to ensure its legacy endures for generations.