By David Leprozo Jr.
HUNGDUAN, IFUGAO– Binwag Duyapat Butihling was a hunter here in the mountain town of Hungduan. As a hunter, he was well-loved in the community for bringing home wild animals and sharing the game for free.
He died December 29, 2022, primarily due to old age. He was 87.
In his honor, the tribe paid special tribute to Butihling, whom they call “Ama Binwag.”
His coffin is made of wood carved to be shaped like a dog.
And his tomb is a concrete plaster specially carved to look like a white horse.
“Power” of the hunter
A hunter is often revered among Ifugao tribes people because they provide food to the community.
“Dito sa amin, pag hunter, mangangaso, kilalang-kilala. Kasi sila yung nagbibigay ng pagkain sa mga kapitbahay,” villager Santos Bayucca told republicasia.
Hunting is not a skill that is easily passed on or to get training for.
“Hindi basta basta ang maging hunter. Kung hindi ikaw ang binigyan ng power, kahit ilang araw sa bundok, wala kang makukuha.
“Ang mga hunter na ito, talagang binigay ang power. May ritual kung saan binibigay ang power sa hunter,” Bayucca explained.
Tomb, coffin fit for a hunter
Bayucca said he consulted Ama Binwag’s son, Luis, on what structure they would to like build as final resting place for the revered hunter.
“Dami kong suggestions. Pero humantong sa aso na lang ang hugis ng kabaong kasi mangangaso ang matanda,” he recalled.
Since Ama Binwag had a white horse as constant companion, he thought of doing a tomb that looked like one.
“May kabayo syang puti. Kasi yun ang ginagamit nyang translation sa pangangaso,” Bayucca added.
Funeral ritual as celebration of art
Ama Binwag was laid to rest last January 8, 2023. The clan did not only fulfill the traditional Ifugao burial but turned the event into a unique exhibition of art.
The Ifugaos are renowned carving artisans, whose skills date as far back as the prehistoric period. Their ancestors were behind the famous Banaue Rice Terraces, considered by the United Nations as the Eighth Wonder of the World.