“Awanen! Uray adda pay koma’t magapas… nu alaen amin ti minas dagiti taltalon, anya ngay ti mabalin dagiti mannalon?” (It is all gone. Although there are yet palay to harvest… if the fields would be eaten up by the mines, what is there left for the farmers?)
BY LYN V. RAMO
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 12, April 27-May 3, 2008
“Awanen! Uray adda pay koma’t magapas… nu alaen amin ti minas dagiti taltalon, anya ngay ti mabalin dagiti mannalon?” (It is all gone. Although there are yet palay to harvest… if the fields would be eaten up by the mines, what is there left for the farmers?) one of three farmers of Baay-Licuan in Abra said to my disbelief.
In Baay-Licuan, some farmers not only plant rice, but also go to the tunnels for gold. “No nakatalunen, mabalinen a mapan agusok” (After planting, we could go to the mines), they said, implying they prioritize the rice fields to the mines.
“Are you still planting rice up to now?” I was just curious, but the question reached them with a tone of surprise.
They started narrating before me that Abra farmers still have a lot to be proud of. They said they have a number of rice varieties indigenous to Abra. I was so excited writing all the names and the features of each rice variety they were enumerating impromptu.
Abra farmers still tend to balatey, which they consider the best rice variety there is in this rice-producing Cordillera province. Aside from balatey, other indigenous rice varieties as the gangkab, Bangkudo, pisla and balatinaw are still existent in the province.
I am only familiar with balatinaw, although the name connotes a variety of glutinous rice, usually required to make tapey (rice wine). In Pangasinan the variety is bato-linew, which my late grandma would use to make tinurok, unda-unday or indikol, rice cakes which reminds me of my own childhood in the province.
The balatey, is a white rice variety, according to my farmer-friends from Baay-Licuan. Locals consider it best due to its sheen. “Nasileng a kasla namantikaan,” (It is shiny and seems oily) farmer Andres Belisario and Romeo Baroña said, almost simultaneously.
They both agree that balataey is naimas (tasty) and nalukneng (soft) even when cooked several hours before meals. “Uray makilabban, naimas ken nalukneng latta” (Even when eaten cold, it remains soft and tasty) Andres said.