Banaue, Ifugao: Cordillera Sculpture Museum
The Ifugao have prevailed in the Cordillera mountains long before influences of foreign invaders came knocking on Philippine doorsteps with swords thrusting in one hand, bearing a crucifix on the other. Similar to ancient cultures around the globe, the indigenous people of the Cordillera, including the Ifugao, had their own systematized ways of living where people strictly abide by laws, solemnly observe beliefs, and humbly thrive on a basic livelihood – everything carved in their rich and colorful history. Remnants of the slowly dying culture are redeemed and remembered in an enclave adorned with aged artifacts and identical replicas of wood-carved memoirs that played a significant role in Ifugao culture. Get deeper into the roots of the mountain people through the Cordillera Sculpture Museum.
Museum of Cordilleran Sculpture
Ifugao heritage welcomes visitors upon entering the museum.
Doors opened to a classic cabin-like interiors of pinewood planks paneled evenly from floor to wall. Traditional wood sculpted scarecrows, ironically, welcome visitors as they enter the Cordillera Sculpture Museum, or Museum of Cordilleran Sculpture. Museum visitors will be overwhelmed by the massive collection of Ifugao and Cordilleran heritage.
Traditional scarecrow wood carvings.
A unique statue carved from roots.
Dominating the vast exhibit were abstract human figures, artistically sculpted in wood and stone, which instantly caught my curiosity. Each statue possesses a distinct characteristic and bears a tale of its own. I don’t even know where to start. Thanks to the museum curator who noticed my eyes rolled left to right and back, so she kindly offered to walk me through one piece to the other.
“The Ages of Bulul”
Agriculture and mythical gods, together, play an essential part in Ifugao’s culture. Ancient people of the mountain carved rice deities called “Bul-ul” to guard the farmers crops and watch over their fields. Moreover, the Bul-ul are also believed to be possessed by the spiritual presences of the ancestors. During traditional rituals and ceremonies, animal blood sacrifices are touched or spilled on these Narra or Ipil wood sculptures as form of asking for blessing or expression of utmost gratitude for the plentiful harvest or abundance of rice in the Cordillera mountains.
Tinagtago (far right), a statue performing a dance for mourning a death, with other statues.
Male and female bul-uls.
Cordilleran Sculpture Museum‘s numerous collections do not end with woodcarving of Bul-ul’s and other deities but also extend to more Cordillera’s rich heritage and artistic magnificence. Clothing, furniture, tools and weapons are to name some but to understand the pieces very well require an up-close encounter as the curator telltales the enchanting stories behind each display.
A bench carved with an alligator or crocodile’s head. Not sure if it’s alligator or crocodile.
The cultural treasures found within vicinity of Cordillera Sculpture Museum were once a private collection of George Schenk until it was opened for public viewing. George, an American horticulturist and author, knew the importance of these pieces to the peoples of the Cordillera. Cordillera Sculpture Museum is a platform carved from utmost value for culture and mere generosity to the people. Today, they strive to preserve this priceless collection and fill the gaps between the rapid developing world and the fleeing past, keeping the forgotten realms of our nation’s ancestry alive with each and every piece.
More collections on the 2nd floor.
Institutions like Cordillera Sculpture Museum are probably among the most efficient ways to get to know cultures consigned to oblivion,which at the same time, bears a huge impact in our own identity as Filipinos. As I was registering my name in the visitors logbook, I can’t help but to ask the curator why most of the names listed were foreigners, and because, of course, most of the time, foreigners came to visit the museum. It saddened me for a bit but I hope through this blog I could help raise cultural awareness among ourselves. My visit to to Cordillera Sculpture Museum, actually, ignited a flame that (which I think) would lead me to a path to seek knowledge and value of the numerous cultures of the Philippine archipelago. I hope it will ignite yours too.
Now, here are some fast facts that may help you on the trip:
1. The Cordillera Sculpture Museum can be found before you reach Banaue Town Proper. Tricycle from Banaue to the museum cost P15.00 and from there back to town cost only P8.00
2. Museum entrance fee cost P100.00 only.
3. Museum is open from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
4. Donations are gladly accepted as well.
5. Take time to read labels written under the museum pieces or don’t be shy to ask the curator if you are curious with anything. I’m sure he/she’d be glad to assist you.
6. I think students should be more exposed in these kinds of tourist destinations.
7. Like BIYAHERONG BARAT on Facebook
8. Follow BIYAHERONG BARAT on Twitter.
9. More destinations in IFUGAO.
10. Happy travels.