Who does not know “Tanging Yaman,” “Hindi Kita Malilimutan” and many other church hymns penned by Fr. Manoling V. Francisco, SJ?
What many may not be aware of is that Tanging Yaman is also the name of a foundation, founded by Fr. Manoling, that has helped numerous causes, the plight of the Ifugao people among them.
I was fortunate to have spent a few minutes chatting with Fr. Manoling, thanks to Marites Ingles, the woman who informed me about the Tanging Yaman coffee blends—Ifugao Kape, Igorot Kape and Lagawe Kape, all from the Cordilleras.
The coffees taste good, perhaps one better than the other. But it was the literature behind the coffee bags that I found very interesting. Having a bag of their coffee is having a piece of their story.
Fr. Manoling narrated: “As a newly ordained priest, I was fortunate to have been assigned to serve as parish priest of Kiangan Catholic Mission, Ifugao, which then covered more than two municipalities of mountain ranges, Kiangan and Asipulo and the bordering barangays with Banaue and Hingyon.
Since then, I have become a promoter of their culture, a good friend of the Ifugao people.”
The coffee is a social enterprise initiated by the parish priests in Ifugao and Mt. Province. They’ve encouraged local farmers to plant and blend their own coffee. They needed help in marketing, so this was how Tanging Yaman came in.”
“Because it would be very cold, people would drink coffee made from coffee beans or toasted rice the minute they woke up. They’d drink it all the way till the evening, when we’d huddle around the fire."
“The house of an average Ifugao family would measure around 3 x 3 m, a one-room hut. On the corner would be a little fireplace where they also cook and where you would find a pot of boiling coffee or water. This is where we eat, sleep and chat, all in that same space.”
After seeing the festive ribbons adorning the coffee bags, I had to ask, is there Christmas in Ifugao?
“Yes, because the majority of them are baptized, though they continue to practice their local customs. Simbang gabi is at 4:30 a.m. That would mean people walking through the mountains with blazing torches to get themselves to church. It’s a big sacrifice for them, since the walk is long, cold and dark.
“Noche Buena food is very simple—inlagim and vegetables, ham if they’re able to buy ham from the lowlands, or de lata. De lata is special there, carried through their backs through the mountains. Even softdrinks and sardines are very costly as they are carried on people’s backs.”
Credits to the PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER. Click HERE to view the original article.