Ifugao Hut in London: Going, Going, Dead?

Cross-posted at kaigorotan.com

UPDATE: For pictures of this soon to be dismantled Ifugao hut, visit The Nashman’s blog.

Well, we don’t know much about this story. But here are the facts which we gleaned from the announcement here:

  • The Ifugao hut is presently located at the Philippine embassy in London.
  • It was brought all the way from Kiangan.
  • The embassy is moving to a new address.
  • They haven’t found a suitable new home for the Ifugao hut.
  • So they are performing a “death” ritual for the hut on December 15, 2007 (10:00 am).

Now the question is, who brought the hut to London, the government? And did embassy officials have sufficient time to find a new place or a new custodian for the hut?

Because if the answers to both questions happen to be “Yes” then I think they should have done more (or should do more) than this “death” ritual they are planning.

And what exactly are they going to do to the hut? Burn it? Cannibalize it? That is its end after it served its purpose of “showcasing” our culture?

Should we be shocked? I am. You can dispose of your used tissue paper, old clothes, or relationships gone awry but you should not be disposing heritage objects like this Ifugao hut. Especially if you are the government that should have the resources to preserve these kinds of things.

I guess I’m a bit mad with what is going to happen to this Ifugao hut because the last time I was in my village back home, I noticed that the last inatep (Sagada traditional house) was no longer where it used to stand? Apparently, the owner found the inatep hard to maintain, decided to build a house with a GI roof, and sold the inatep to an antique buyer so he can use the money to buy GI sheets.

I was sad that we lost the last reminder of what houses were like in the old days. But I understand why the owner did what he did. You can say that his decision is excusable.

Now, it is hard to excuse this death ritual that the Philippine embassy is planning in London. They are going to destroy a heritage object just because they are moving to another address? How short-sighted is that? Did their landlord suddenly kick them out so they didn’t have enough time to think of more creative ways to save the hut.

I do not think any other nation will ever entertain the idea of doing something like this. But the Philippines, with its very bad sense of heritage conservation, not only entertains the idea. It continues to destroy its heritage mindlessly.

SOMEWHAT RELATED POSTS: Preserving Our Colonial Heritage and Cultural Conversations: The Consul Responds.

6 thoughts on “Ifugao Hut in London: Going, Going, Dead?”

  1. Nashman,
    The British Museum bought and saved it? or
    The British Museum bought it before and now are releasing it?

  2. The RP government “showcasing” our culture abroad (to borrow your words)? Hey, are you kidding? That’s the last thing in the government’s warped mind.

    The RP government doles out millions of hard-earned dollars to its do-nothing consular people abroad- who are better known for their profligacy and arrogance- than doing what they are paid to do. Ask any OFW who has come face to face with a RP consular officer abroad, and you’ll surely hear a “horror” story.

    Haven’t you heard about the once publicized story of the RP Consul General in New York who rented a luxurious apartment at the Trump Tower in Manhattan at a cost of $10,000 a month- courtesy of poor Juan Dela Cruz? That story made me puke.

    So, the RP government “showcasing” our culture abroad? That’s bullshit!

  3. Hi Nashman,
    Thanks for the info. I added a link to your blog. The hut is sad looking in those pictures.

    Hi Anonymous,
    From what I read in Nashman’s post, the British museum bought it from Ifugao and brought it to London. It must have given it to the Philippine embassy. Now the embassy is gonna burn/cannibalize it. Thanks.

    Hi Nadjhin,
    Thanks. I added a link to his post. The museum bought it from the original owner in Ifugao.

    Hi Anonymous,
    That’s why its in “quotes”. The “showcasing” goes in the form of organizing fiestas and the like. We cannot deny that they do that. Maybe they even do a good job at it 🙂

    Of course all of us know about the general incompetence of embassy officials and their insensitivity and inability to deal with the plight of OFWs. (There are exceptions to the rule of course.) Thanks 🙂

  4. Hello Kakailyan,

    I am surprised this is the way they wrote about how the ifugao granary was removed from the Philippine Embassy here in UK. I am among the igorots who attended the ceremony before it was dismantled and I can say that the article was unjustly written and insufficient of facts. How could a writer even described it as a “death ritual” where in fact it is an inanimate object? I understand such fiery reactions would arise if this was how it was described. Before I will comment on further, I think we need to look into what really happened and get the FACTS from the people concerned. Thank you.

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