Rice wine highlights ‘Ipitik Festival’ in Baguio

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BAGUIO CITY – Local rice wine or “tapuey“, including the search of a connoisseur or wine expert, will highlight the third staging of the “Ipitik” Festival during the culmination of the 25th Panagbenga or Baguio Flower Festival late March at the Rose Garden of the Burnham Park here.

The week-long festivity which comes nine years after the last one at the same venue will highlight at least 10 events in what is now considered as one of the arts havens, a creative city for folk arts and crafts, the Rose Garden.

Artist organizer Ferdie Balanag in staging this year’s Ipitik said: “We believe access to art and culture should go beyond those already active in the arts and cultural community.”

He added that the festivity “intend(s) to produce a cultural and arts festival that will inspire community involvement that is total and not exclusive.”

Kawayan de Guia, son of National Artist for Film “Kidlat Tahimik” and also an installation artist and co-organizer of the event added: “The artists, as vehicles for the perpetuation of culture, will come to collaborate in all the forms of art such as visual, dance, film, theater, music, literature, installation… to name a few. Both young and old will participate in this event, in the spirit of passing down traditional knowledge and cultural values to the young.”

Ipitik, which starts a drink in the Cordillera when one opens a bottle and offers a prayer to the gods, is tentatively scheduled on March 28 until April 5, said Balanag.

The dates coincide with the busiest week of the Panagbenga, which was staged a month late because of the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) scare that prompted local officials to have the dates moved to avoid crowds.

The highlight will be the local wine-tasting where the best-brewed tapuey will be adjudged.

Balanag said the master tapuey brewer search is the “carrier activity of the Ipitik Festival, rice wine brewers from the different provinces of the Cordilleras join together to give our valued judges a taste of the different brews of tapuey, choosing the winner among the entries.”

He added the best “brewer shall be given the city’s stamp of quality and his brew will be provided with assistance for business mentorship and production, bottling, branding, marketing and sustaining.”

Isikias Picpican, an anthropologist and local historian, said: “the Ipitik Festival recognizes the winemaking skills of the Cordilleran. Each village in the Cordillera has an ingenious way of preparing the tapuey. This event is not only a tribute to the wine-makers but to all the people of the Cordilleras.”

The festivity will also have the third pinikpikan contest where thousands of people will be fed with the traditional boiled chicken.

Pinikpikan is the Cordillera’s answer to tinola but the chicken is burnt before it is boiled.

Balanag said more than 2,500 persons partook of the cooked pinikpikan during the last staging in 2011.

Other events include the seventh woodcarving competition, the 108 Gongs, drum circle, and Cordillera Theater, the arts and crafts shack design, the Cordillera arts and crafts fair, the Baguio Pine Film Festival and the Highland Food Village.

The woodcarving competition will feature local woodcarvers who will carve from a log featuring the Cordillera festivals.

It was first staged in 2005 during the first Ipitik and the Baguio Arts Guild then made a “dap-ay”, a gathering place made of stones with a bonfire place in the middle, at the southwestern portion of the Melvin Jones.

The 108 gongs will feature elementary and high school students dancing the different Cordillera cultural dances accompanied by the gongs.

The students will first undergo a six-week workshop in cultural dances, the gongs, and other native instruments.

The drum circle and Cordillera theatre is a nocturnal event where drummers and percussionists will be playing around a big bonfire, in between breaks, performances depicting Cordillera myths and legends will be presented.

The Cordillera arts and crafts fair will showcase the unique crafts, ware, food, costumes, textile, and products from the different provinces of the region.

The film fest is an event in coordination with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) Cinema Rehiyon and the Film Development Council of the Philippines, and supported by the Goethe Institut and Alliance Francais.

There will be film screenings as well as masterclasses and workshops at the Rose Garden.

The Highland food fest is a display of local cuisines which is actually a reincarnation of last year’s Mangan Tako festival (let’s eat), a week-long display and sale of Cordillera cuisine also at the Rose garden.

“We are working with the Department of Tourism – Cordillera and had this event incorporated in it,” Balanag said.

There is also the Tukar (music playing), the Panagbenga Music Jam or the music for blossoming which will accompany the Baguio Blooms that is held weekly at the Baguio Convention Center.

To jazz up the event, the International Jazz Festival will be staged at the Rose Garden featuring international and national jazz artists that will culminate the festivity.

“We are staging this to support local arts and crafts, although we had it postponed due to the declaration that events will be staged on later dates due to the Covid scare,” said Gladys de Vera, acting chairman of the Baguio Tourism Council which co-presents this staging of the Ipitik festival. (PNA)