HUNDREDS of locals and tourists gathered recently in Lagawe, capital town of Ifugao, to witness different cultural activities in the weeklong Gotad Ad (“thanksgiving” or “merrymaking”), a showcase of Ifugao’s rich natural and cultural heritage. The province’s 11 municipalities participated.
With the theme “A Celebration of Cultural Heritage as Foundation of Self Determination and Sustainable Development,” the festival featured a cultural arts contest, indigenous culinary arts competition, indigenous games, a marathon in G-strings, an agro-industrial fair and a grand parade.
The annual festival likewise celebrated the province’s foundation.
Next year, Ifugao will mark its 50th anniversary as a separate province.
Ifugao Gov. Denis Habawel explained that gotad is the cycle in the annual life of the Ifugao (people) that signifies a period after the planting season when the people take a rest.
The governor added that Ifugao is now trying to make gotad a cultural celebration: “We’re trying to purify, if you may, the activities to include true ethnic activities from sports, dances and songs—because it’s our way to preserve and even strengthen our heritage as a people.”
Habawel said they are promoting gotad as a festival that would become a tourist attraction.
He also pointed out that Ifugao culture has been pretty much preserved because the Spanish colonizers were able to penetrate the province only in the last years of their reign, and thus were not completely successful in exerting a deep-seated influence on its people.
“So, there’s not much interaction between the locals [and the Spaniards]… You cannot see the influence of the Spaniards or even the Americans for that matter.”