Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Simple Life that i-Kalingas Live during Christmas and all Year Through

I speak from my childhood experience way back during the olden days in Taloctoc, Tanudan. Hence, some of you may no longer be practicing these simple ways. Nevertheless, I’m compelled to write these customs and way of living, so you can go back to them every now and then. They’re worth emulating.

1. Christmas was usually celebrated by a simple program presented by the elementary students of our small village. This program was organized by the only female and the only non-i-Taloctoc teacher. A mass was celebrated by a visiting priest, if there was one. If none, then the program was enough. Some families cooked special dishes and some did not.

During night time, the kids went caroling. Some girls and boys lighted up bonfires and sang the salidummay. Christmas was not a major holiday back then. I went caroling with some kids and there were old people who didn’t want to be bothered from their sleep: “Umma ko-on yo? Laydon yo danum?” (What are you doing? Do you want water?) They would shout as they proceeded to get a pail of cold water to douse us with.

So, we ran out of reach, while shouting, “You’re stingy!”

I guess times have changed now. I would like to read your comments about the updates that are happening now. You can leave them in the comment section below.

Taloctoc Elementary School; Courtesy of Virgo Evergreen
2. With regards to daily meals, freshly picked fish was cooked by simmering it in water only, with a few cloves of garlic or a piece of ginger. We sometimes washed the fish, wrapped them in banana leaves and placed them inside bamboo poles, cut into foot-long pieces. Then we cooked the fish over low fire.

You wouldn’t believe how delicious this fish dish is. The natural flavor of the fish is mixed with the aroma of fresh banana leaves. 3. Freshly butchered pig meat, yes, everything was fresh. We didn’t have refrigerators, so we plucked the veggies, and butchered the animal right before we had cooked them.

All we needed was water to cook the meat. Of course, we have cut them into cubes first before boiling with water. NO CONDIMENTS. I would never forget its delectable taste.

However, we had ground red pepper with rock salt in a saucer, where we would dip the meat before eating it. Yes, we didn’t mix the condiments with the meat when cooking, because it masked the natural and fresh flavor of the meat.

4. Likewise with veggies and other dishes; we simply boil them with water. Try it sometime, when you’re sure that your vegetables are fresh from the garden. I promise you, you would be able to taste the real flavor of the food.

5. As for clothing, we were not very particular. As long as the clothes are clean, and our private parts are covered, we wear them. So, we often saw people with holes or tears on their clothes. But mind you, don’t judge by appearances because that old woman with tattered clothes may be the wealthiest person in their village.

They could actually be owners of gold pieces (yes, genuine gold) and layers of rice paddies.

 6. Every person lived simply and there were no places for complexity – even during Christmas time.

This Christmas, I wish all the i-Kalingas, all tribes in the mountains, and all people around the world a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you fulfill all your dreams in this lifetime and be a blessing to others.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why Kalingas are One of the Most Trusted People in the World

You may have the impression that I’m boastful and just pulling your leg, but I’m not. I’ve witnessed this honesty first hand during my childhood days.

Obviously, there may be inevitable changes today. But I’m declaring that Kalinga people are inherently honest. Let me mention specific circumstances to support my claim:

1.    Houses were never locked

In our village, sometimes, I and my friends played hide and seek inside empty houses. The old folks were all in the field or kaingin working.

The tots were left behind – including me - some naked, and some with snots and morning glories in their eyes; some with mud and soil on their bodies. But we rarely got sick. We have developed significant immunity against certain diseases. We were too young to work, so we took care of ourselves and eat whatever was left by the elders.

But wait, we’re going off topic. So, the houses were unlocked. We opened the door and freely entered. Valuable items were left lying around and no one ever coveted or stole someone else’s property.

Of course, there’s no such Utopia anywhere, so there was one man who was tempted to steal a goat. Yes, a goat; animals were very valuable then. The entire village witnessed his ‘trial’ with the village leader resolving the issue. He never repeated his misdeed again.


2.    Marriages were not documented on paper

During marriages, a ‘taddok’ (playing of gongs) was rendered by various groups. Then a pig or carabao was slaughtered for food. “Basi” (wine) was shared and the merriment continued up to the wee hours of dawn.

Big bonfires were built at the center of the plaza and girls and boys sang the “salidummay’, while flirting with one another. The old men and women talked among themselves, recalling phenomenal events in the village. There were many weird and strange encounters with supernatural beings and ghosts.

The couple then would live as husband and wife, without proper documentation of their marriage. I guess this doesn’t apply nowadays. One has to possess a paper stating that she is legally married to Mr. so and so.

Nevertheless, I’m attempting to show you how it was in the olden days. Those marriage vows were lasting. Couples stayed together through thick and thin. They resolved any misunderstanding and remained true to their oral vows. That was how honest people were.

3.    Verbal agreements are honored

You don’t need a paper and a signature to legalize agreements. You simply state your agreements verbally and it was sealed permanently. The folk honored them and never questioned their legality.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a society such as this one?

Today, I’m sure this custom still exists in Kalinga villages. This may not be true with the cities and bigger provinces because these places are melting pots; people come from a variety of foreign places.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Gardening in Taloctoc, Edible Leaves of Root Crops

Gardening in Taloctoc, Kalinga was never a problem because the soil is rich and fertile. You can plant any veggies and it will spring robustly from the ground.

My mother and I had one such camote garden below the teacher’s quarters. We cultivated camote (sweet potato), pechay (Chinese white cabbage) and various edible veggies in out small garden plots.

Image credit: PhilippinePlants&Tress

They grew robustly that we had harvested big camote tubers and also camote tops. The camote tubes were delicious desserts, while the camote tops were nutrition and sumptuous side dishes. We could survive just harvesting our produce from that garden. How I miss those days.

A gardener should be aware of what root crops have edible leaves. This is because he would be able to maximize the plants’ benefits and save money.

It is a gift from nature that some root crops have edible leaves. He would also know what parts of the plant he should take care the most.

He should know what parts of the leaves are good for food. The young shoots are the best part of the leaves because they are fresher, more tender and edible. The following are some of these root crops.

Edible Leaves of Root Crops

Sweet Potato

The sweet potato is a tuber that could be cooked as dessert. The tasty roots are usually boiled with sugar and milk. The young shoots could be cooked as a succulent vegetable dish, too. Even the green young stems are also nutritious and edible. The tuber could be steamed, fried, roasted, or boiled.


The radish has edible leaves and tubes. In addition, it is rich with essential nutrients, such as vitamin C. People should select the top, leafy part of the vegetable for cooking because they are tastier and easily masticated. The leaves can be cooked with fish or in combination with other vegetables.


The bulb of the onion is an excellent ingredient to bring out the flavor of dishes. It is used as a common condiment with almost any dish, whether this is a vegetable or meat dish. The leaves of the onion could also be sautéed or cooked together with the bulb to spice up food and come up with succulent cuisine. The bulb could be cut into small pieces and boiled with meat and fish dishes too.


Just like onion, ginger is a delicious spice that could be mixed with any dish. The leaves and the rhizomes could be cooked together to spice food. They also lend a scrumptious odor to the dish. Sometimes, they could be used as therapeutic drinks for people suffering from sore throat and mouth infections.


Also called elephant’s ear, the taro’s tuber and leaves are equally edible as vegetable dishes. Both should be cooked thoroughly though, because the calcium oxalate crystals they contain are irritating to the mouth. The leaves and tuber could be cooked with coconut juice to add flavor.


Turmeric is the same family as ginger. It is used as a spice to add flavor to dishes. Its leaves are also edible and have the same role in preparing delicious cuisine. The rhizomes could be cut into small strips and sautéed, or grated and added to dishes.

These are some root crops which have delicious and edible leaves. Knowledge of their usefulness could allow people to experiment and prepare delicious dishes that would satisfy even the most fastidious tongue.

Here's a video of edible leave:

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Kissing Customs across the World

Kissing is a universal act that applies to every culture and country. The meaning of the kiss, however, varies with each country.

Kisses have always been an expression of love, care and concern. Knowing the meaning of a kiss in different parts of the world would allow you to understand more the customs governing countries across the world.

Kissing in India

Indians are very particular about their public display of affection. Kissing in public is generally condemned. One incident that had caused an uproar among Indians is American actor Richard Gere’s kissing of Indian actress, Shilpa Shetty.

Most Indians were aghast with Gere’s light kiss on Shetty’s cheeks, and they find it insulting. Indian showbiz personalities and some of the younger generation, however, are more liberated, and found no malice in Gere’s actions.

As a rule, though, do not kiss any person in public to play safe in India. In Delhi, a public kiss would be fined $12. In private, only married couples could kiss on the lips, and sometimes, a kiss on the cheeks and a hug from family members is allowed.

Kissing in Saudi Arabia

Kissing in public, whether it is on the lips or on the cheeks, and whether it is among couples or relatives is strictly prohibited. It is considered a crime to show affection in public. A British man and woman were jailed for one month because

they were caught kissing in the mall in front of other people. Most Middle Eastern countries consider kissing in public as indecent and immoral and are given sanctions.

Kissing in Italy

Italians kiss in public or in private with their spouses, their family members, and friends. They show affection by hugging and kissing without lending any malice to the kiss unless specifically intended. They are expressive of how they feel. Just like in any civilized country, there is a limit to what they can do in public.

Of all the countries in the world, Americans are the most demonstrative of their affection and love. They kiss in public anywhere they want to. A few of them even engage in orgies, and unusual sexual expressions.

There are laws concerning lewdness and indecency, though, that foreigners should be aware of. Decent people do not just make love in public places, and sanctions are given to those who flagrantly violate the law.

Although, gay relationships are now accepted in some states, several people still view gay kissing in public as an affront to their sensibilities.

Kissing in London

Kissing in public in London is fine if the persons do not French kiss. A light kiss on the lips and the cheeks is accepted. You would be charged with indecency, nevertheless, if you do heavy necking and petting in public.

In comparison to the Americans, the British are more conservative in their public display of affection.

Kissing in the Philippines

Filipinos are like their Southeast Asian neighbors, they display public affection sparingly. Couples could kiss each other’s lips and cheeks in public. Family and friends could greet each other with a kiss on the cheeks and a hug.

Sanctions are given to persons who do more than the light kiss. They would be charged with indecency and immorality and would be fined and incarcerated depending upon the gravity of their offenses.

Kissing in Kalinga

In Kalinga, kissing someone is a private affair that cannot be done publicly. The young i-Kalingas are bolder now, and some can kiss (on the cheeks) in public.

However, kissing on the lips in front of many people is still taboo. The groom kissing the bride in a wedding is acceptable though, and rare occasions when couples are allowed to kiss on the lips.

Kissing customs vary for each country, so when you visit other countries you should be familiar with their culture. If unsure of the customs, then don’t do it. It is always best to play safe to avoid unnecessary pain and embarrassment.

Do you agree with these practices? Feel free to leave a comment below to dispute these observations.