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MeaningGrand Festival
Dance CultureHighland Cordillera
Place of OriginMayaoyao, Ifugao
Ethnolinguistic GroupIfugao
Background / Content

The rice terraces of Banaue are known as the 8th wonder of the world. Built by the sturdy hand of the Ifugao around 22,000 years ago, the terraces is home to hundreds of small and big feasts called cañao. Each cañao varies in purpose and size, and the days of feasting depends upon the social and financial status of the feast giver. When the canao is for a wedding, it is called Intaneg. When it is to propitiate the gods to watch over crops and ensure a good harvest or to mark life’s milestone like the birth of a male child, success in war, the death of a prominent villager and the general well-being of the community, it is called Imbajah or bumajah.

The grandest canao is called Uyaoy. Many bumajahs make up an uyaoy. An uyaoy is celebrated for many varied reasons, most common is that given by a Radangyang (aristocratic class) to reaffirm his social status in the community. It is also a chance for him to be considered into the village’s council of elders.

Probably the biggest but goriest of all cañao is that related to the practice of washing of the bones of a dearly departed, in preparation for its secondary burial. A carabao is mercilessly hacked to pleces by them and meat sliced off is brought home by partygoers before the feasting and dancing starts. Rice harvested from the terraces is made available for cooking and sharing. The most prestigious of all mumbaki priests are invited from near and far villages to interpret omens and to insure that the uyaoy goes well and its purpose attained. Post-harvest is always the best time to celebrate cañao, when the village relaxes from months of heavy work food and a plenty Part of canao’s success is music. Flat brass gongs called ganza come in sets of five or six. Each is struck with the bare open palm or with a short stick, to produce a running melody with a syncopated beat. So as not to spoil good music, the villagers join in a moving circle. When tired they simply fall off. The dance performed in any of these festivals adopts the name of the festival itself, so intaneg, dinuya, bumajah and uyaoy are both a canao and a dance. The uyaoy has particular steps learned from ancestors. An uyaoy is composed of half the men and half the women dancing till the wee hours of the night. Ifugao myth recounts that Rabunyan, the creator-god made man to be strong and virile, the same qualities displayed by Ifugao men or they spread their arms to imitate the sakpaya

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