As the first offering of its Philippine food and ecosystems series, Museo ng Kaalamang Katutubo (Museum of Indigenous Knowledge or MuskKat) in Pasig City recently launched the coffee-table book. “A Delicate Balance: Batanes Food, Ecology and Community.”
The book is dedicated to the late Ivatan scholar Florentino Hornedo and anchored on archaeologists Peter Bellwood and Eusebio Dizon’s findings that Ivatans have been in existence in Batanes for four millennia. Authors are former National Museum director Corazon Alvina and curator Marian Pastor Roces. Photographs are by Neal Oshima.
It is the latest of many collaborations done by Alvina and Roces in the field of cultural research, and the newest masterpiece for Oshima.
“Delicate Balance” tackles Ivatan past as well as the “sustainable future” for Batanes. It aspires “to lead the way toward a greater awareness of the Philippines as a land of delicate balance,” particularly on the sustainability of the many micro ecosystems in Batanes and the whole country, the book’s opening notes say.
Alvina explains the book focuses on food ecosystems and how Filipinos, particularly the Ivatans, have taken care of a food system which “is actually very sensitive, responsive and very caring toward the environment.”
“They know how to take care of it so that, that same ecosystem has sustained them for 4,000 years,” she says.
Alvina underscores the need to care for the various micro and macro ecosystems the country has since it is the key for food sufficiency.
Roces emphasizes the relation between nature and culture in Batanes. She explains food is part of an ecosystem which consists of persons, geography and community.
She says food is a “portal” for Filipinos to enter the system of relations between nature and culture.
“Once we enter that door, we will know why the Ivatans are in existence for 4,000 years in Batanes and are still resilient,” she adds. —CONTRIBUTED