Like native chickens, native pigs played an important role in the economic and cultural landscape of a typical Ifugao village in the past.
Campaign on to save native Ifugao pigs
Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2018 - 12:00am

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The people of Ifugao want to save not only their deteriorating rice terraces but their dwindling native pigs as well.

In Ifugao of old, native pigs roam freely in the rice terraces. But as the rice terraces and habal (swidden farms) began deteriorating, native pigs also started to disappear.

Like native chickens, native pigs played an important role in the economic and cultural landscape of a typical Ifugao village in the past. 

Used in rituals, weddings, birth and death rites, pigs are an essential part of the cultural life because pig’s bile are read like books by the mumbakis (native priests).

While admittedly most of the indigenous rituals are disappearing, the value and use of pigs don’t. Many families still buy pigs for special occasions.

During peak season, they will even buy outside Ifugao just to satisfy their craving.

This prompted Ifugao State University (IFSU)  agriculture department associate professor Elpidio Basilio Jr. to save the native pigs.

Basilio studied the genetic components and established the “nucleus herd” of the Ifugao native pig at IFSU.

He found out that at least five strains of Ifugao native pigs are rare and unique species when he compared these genetic samples from the Kalinga and Taiwan native pigs. 

Basilio is conducting further tests and experiments to improve the Ifugao native pig breed.

Saving and modifying the Ifugao native pig breed is important, he said.

 “Our native pigs have been part of our culture. Family and community rituals and occasions are always performed at the expense of the native pig,” Basilio said.

Another important feature of the native pig, he said, is it is adaptive and resilient to harsh conditions.

“With these positive characteristics, we collected the five strains of our Ifugao native pigs to purify and multiply their number in our IFSU nucleus herd.

“Once we complete the process of purifying and increasing the number of Ifugao native pigs in our nucleus herd, we will dispose and distribute them to our local farmers and communities as an additional source of livelihood,” Basilio said.

The purified Ifugao native pig is also low cost in maintenance and non-capital intensive.  Farmers can use local and available materials for housing, food and other maintenance for the native pigs.

Basilio hopes the Ifugao native pig project will provide farmers an alternative source of livelihood.

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