Saturday, July 19, 2014

Taloctoc, Kalinga; The Kaingin Rice

One of the cycles of labor that the Taloctoc youngsters go through is the "Uma". This is the "kaingin" - a mountain clearing in which rice is planted during the summer months. Taloctoc is a village in Kalinga, Philippines which has a rich culture existing even up to the present times.

The month of April would see the native folks, burning and clearing an area in the mountains ready for rice planting after the first rainfall.

Image credit: Arvee Gaye Trinidad

We had built a small hut in which we could take a rest, but folks usually went home to the village after a hard day's work. Since I was not used to hard labor and the hike every morning and evening to and from the mountains, I would stay with my grandparents in the Kaingin hut.

This would save us the hike everyday. Before the first rainfall, the kaingin would be cleaned thoroughly and weeded. It was on times like these that I would wake up very early in the morning and take a walk savoring the nippy morning, fresh air, the awesome view from the mountain top as the sun arises from the east, and the wonderful, morning silence when all can be heard are the chirping birds and the melodious sound of the cicadas.

I would have fun picking up mushrooms from tree stumps for viand. Then I would fetch water down the stream with my bamboo pole. It was heavenly! You have to experience it to know what I mean. It would be during the months of May that rice planting is done. Afterwards, the succeeding rains would then allow the rice seedlings to grow robustly into a full grown rice plant ready for harvest. Harvesting was also a whole day affair.

It has to be harvested all in one day because of the superstitious belief that the gods would get mad if this was not done. The labor was done by all the native folks cooperating to allow the successful harvest of one kaingin after another. Everyone helps everyone - the true "bayanihan" (unified) spirit.

The kaingin rice varies in color, it is pinkish to red; it is bigger and fuller than the field rice, it is also more delicious and believed to have more nutritive value. It contains more essential nutrients than the field rice and could be eaten without any condiment, viand or side dish. Its aroma is also pleasant and is an appetite inducer. If the ordinary rice has vitamin B12, the kaingin rice has more vitamin B12.

It also has niacin (vitamin B3) and these are essential in cell growth and blood cells development. After all the hard labor in the kaingin, it is pleasurable to sit down and eat the kaingin rice which is still the best that I have tasted so far. This was published by

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