Photo by: Jenn of Jenn Was Here
One of the cycles of labor that the Taloctoc youngsters go through is the summer labor or “Uma”.
This is the “kaingin” time in which an area in the mountains is cleared for planting rice during the summer months.
The month of April would see the native folks, burning and clearing the area making it ready for rice planting after the first rainfall.
We had built a small hut in which we could take a rest during lunch. This hut was our house in the evenings when the native folks usually went home to the village after a hard day’s work.
Since I was not used to hard labor and the hike every morning and evening to and from the mountains, I would stay with my grandparents in the kaingin hut. This would save us the hike everyday.
Before the first rainfall, the kaingin would be cleaned thoroughly and weeded. I would wake up very early in the morning and take a walk savoring the nippy, fresh morning air.
The awesome view from the mountain top as the sun arises from the east, and the wonderful, morning silence when all one can hear were the chirping birds and the melodious sound of the cicadas , was something I always looked forward to.
I would have fun picking up mushrooms from tree stumps for viand. Then I would fetch water down the stream with my bamboo pole.
It was heavenly!
You have to experience it to know what I mean.
Eric of Ruminations of a Small Town Mountain Boy describes aptly the peace and contentment nature brings to a person in his post- "The Games They Play".
It would be during the months of May that rice planting begins.
The succeeding rains then would allow the rice seedlings to grow robustly into a full grown rice plant ready for harvest in the month of June or July.
Harvesting was also a whole day affair. It has to be finished in a day. The labor was done through the cooperation of all the native folks until all of the villager's kaingins would have been harvested.
Everyone helps everyone – the true “bayanihan” (unified) spirit.
The kaingin rice varies in color from those harvested from the ricefields. It is pinkish to red; bigger and fuller than the field rice. It is also more delicious and believed to have more nutritive value.
It contains more essential nutrients than the field rice and could be eaten without any condiment, viand or side dish. Its aroma is also pleasant and is an appetite inducer.
If the ordinary rice has vitamin B12, the kaingin rice has more vitamin B12. It also has niacin (vitamin B3) which are essential substances in cell growth and blood cells development.
After all the hard labor in the kaingin, it was pleasurable to sit down and eat the kaingin rice which was still the best that I have tasted so far.
Oh, how I miss those days.