Chants of the Ifugao
hudhud is recited and chanted among the Ifugao people -
known for their rice terraces - during the sowing and harvesting
of rice, funeral wakes and other rituals. Estimated to have
originated before the 7th century, the hudhud - comprised
of some 40 episodes - often take three or four days to recite.
The language of the chants, almost impossible to transcribe, is
full of repetitions, synonyms, figurative terms and metaphors.
Performed in a leader/chorus style, the reciter - often an
elderly woman - occupies a key position in society. There is
only one tune, common to the entire region, for all of the
verses. Very few written examples of hudhud exist.
conversion of the Ifugao to Catholicism weakened their
traditional culture. The hudhud was linked to the manual
harvesting of rice which is now mechanized. It has been replaced
at funeral wakes by television and radio. Although the rice
terraces are inscribed on the World Heritage List, the number of
cultivators continues to decrease. The few people who know all
the poems are very old, and young people are not interested in
rights of indigenous peoples are protected by Philippine law,
including their intellectual property. Publication of historical
and ethnological iconographs is planned. The government also
proposes festivals and indigenous ceremonies. The National
Library and National Museum are responsible for a complete
archive of the hudhud. A project teaching the tradition
to young people is foreseen.