Pottery in Bila, Bauko, Mt. Province

Bila, Bauko Pottery

Diwin [pottery making] is a generation-passed craft in the town of Bauko in Mt. Province. It has sustained generations of the community locals, as part of their communal entrepreneurship as well as embedded in their daily living. Now, it is trying to bridge cultural gaps by integrating techniques from other towns and opening it as part of the community’s tourism industry.

Contents

Disclaimer: The content of this article is based on vicarious experience as well as references to the date of publication. Changes may occur on contact details, transportation, fees, etc. With this, please do comment at the end of the article any updates as well as corrections on the content, anything amiss, or any information that you think is crucial to the readers. Thank you!


Location

Address: Sitio Napakey, Barangay Bila, Bauko, Mt. Province, Philippines

Map:

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Business Hours

Usually at 0900AM-0500PM

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Fees
  • Entrance Fee: Php20.00
  • Pottery Session Fee: Php100.00
  • With Souvenir Pot: Php50.00

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Contact Details

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Pottery in Bila, Bauko, Mt. Province

Diwin [pottery making] is a generation-passed craft in the town of Bauko in Mt. Province. It has sustained generations of the community locals, as part of their communal entrepreneurship as well as embedded in their daily living. Now, it is trying to bridge cultural gaps by integrating techniques from other towns and opening it as part of the community’s tourism industry.

Pottery in Bila, Bauko
History

Pottery in Bila, Bauko has a very interesting [hi]story. According to the locals, pottery in their community started since time immemorial. In fact, the community has a tale to tell on how diwin became part of their life. The following narrative is lifted from the Bauko Tourism Office Facebook Account [1]:

“Long time ago, Lumawig roamed the villages of Kaigorotan, live with them and taught them how to farm and make handicrafts to better their lives. It was said that Lumawig stayed at other places and taught its people to make clays pots but none can satisfy his standard for pots. Pots they made are either cracked, ugly, uneven, too large or too thick.

“Lumawig went to Bila, asked the women to make pots while he slept. Upon waking up, he was amazed to see the beautifully made pots.

“Lumawig said to the women: “Since you made the pots exactly what i was looking for, you will be bestowed with the excellent knowledge and skills of pot making. This will sustain you through good and hard times. Kebasan will produce the finest clay called boga , while its required mixture of kammagang and anus for decorating your pots shall be sourced out from Alipudupod. Your pots will be known far and wide”.

“From then on Bila pots were bartered with muscovado, dried river fish or shrimps, and dried cattles from Tanap(Cervantes and maeng), with the woven products of Guinzadan and with the piglets sold by the iBangnen.

“The use of libo to glaze baked pots was discoveted to perfect the diwin industry. The resin of the almaciga trees that abundantly grew in the mountains of Abra, Kalinga and Ifugao were tapped by the farmers by cutting the barks. These were collected and formed into big lumps. These lumps are process througj melting over fire then mounting into wooden poles to glaze the baked pots while hot and so the pots can be leak free. “From then on diwin or pottery making became specialized industry of the iBilas, complementing their agricultural cycle.

The Process

The following is a good video of how they cook the pots as part of the diwin. Geba as the locals call it, is the traditional way of firing traditionally made pots. Prior to glazing, earthen pots should be fired in a very high temperature to ensure durability [2].

Initially, the arranged stones where the fresh pots will be laid are tested by burning dried grasses and pine needles over them. Once tested, the pots will be placed on top of these stones, covered with grasses and stones, and simultaneous kindling is done. While being turned and “cooked”, the glazing material [from almaciga tree sap] is also being prepared. After the pots are glazed, they are filled with water overnight to test for any leaks [3].

“Bila is one of the early villages in the Cordillera that the Spanish recorded and pottery was already an economic activity,” shared Bauko Tourism Officer Arsenia Addon [4]. Further, the traditional pottery-making skills of the community is being resourced in making ceramic water filters against water-borne diseases.

Other notable activities of interest in Bauko includes Pangayapang Waterfall, Cotcot Aso, Nentingli, Spanish Trails, Toktok Allan, Layaan Burial Cave, and Mount Polis.

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How to Get There
  • Please contact the Municipal Tourism Office (as listed above) and look for Ms. Arsenia Addon before planning to go there for a smoother itinerary and prevent delays as well as for them to be prepared.
  • Get to Baguio City if you are coming from the lowlands. There are a lot of options of buses and vans going to Baguio from the lowlands. Another option is to take a Codas Lines Bus bound to Bontoc. From Bontoc, take a van bound for Bauko.
  • From Baguio City
    • GL Trans Bus (5:00AM-3:00PM) in Dangwa Station (behind Baguio Centermall) via Bauko [temporarily while the road slide in Sabangan is not yet fixed; once fixed, their buses will not ply through this route]. There are tricycles waiting for passengers going to Bila or just take a walk for about a kilometer and a half if you want the healthier way.
    • Rising Sun Trans Bus (5:30AM-3:30PM) and Lizardo Trans Bus (3:00AM-2:00PM) in Slaughter Compound bound for Otucan via Abatan-Poblacion, Bauko. Inform the conductor to drop you off at the junction going to Bila. There are tricycles waiting for passengers going to Bila or just take a walk for about a kilometer and a half if you want the healthier way.
    • Van (3:00AM-3:30PM) bound to Abatan, Bauko (take note IT IS NOT Abatan, Buguias). Their terminal is at ENCLEAN Gas Station near D’ Rising Sun in Baguio. From Abatan, take a bus or van bound to Bontoc. Ask the conductor to drop you off at the junction going to Bila. There are tricycles waiting for passengers going to Bila or just take a walk for about a kilometer and a half if you want the healthier way.

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Helpful Local Phrases
  • Good morning: Gawis ay agsapa. Good afternoon: Gawis ay masdem. Good night: Gawis ay labi.
  • How are you? Kumusta?
  • What is you name?: Hinu han nagan mo?
  • My name is…: Hak-en hi…
  • How much is this?: Kaat na na?
  • How can I/we go there? Ikkak ay umey hidi? (for I) / Ikkan mi ay umey hidi? (for we).
  • Thank you: Iyaman.
  • Help!: Tulong!
  • Sorry: Pasensya.
  • One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten: Eha, duwa, tulo, upat, lima, enem, pito, wa-o, hiyam, himpu.
  • I don’t understand. Adiak maawatan.

If you notice, most of the ‘s’ words are changed to ‘h’ except for those non-Kankanaey words.

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Acknowledgement

The author wants to acknowledge Nomadic Highlander, a Bauko local, for the images used in the article. You can find him on Twitter (@igorotforlife) and YouTube (Nomadic Highlander) for more of his contents.

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References

[1] Facebook.com [Bauko Tourism Office], 2018. Abante Bauko Abante, Gameng ya Kataguan, Diwin Festival, Bila, Bauko [online]. Available at: <https://www.facebook.com/bowakosabauko/posts/2178004902461206&gt; [Accessed 4 May 2020].

[2] Nomadic Highlander, 2020. Open Firing. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLy-7yJwaDU&gt; [Accessed 4 May 2020].

[3] Degay, F., 2020. Bila Potters Exhibits Traditional Firing Of Earthen Pots. [online] Baguioheraldexpressonline.com. Available at: <https://www.baguioheraldexpressonline.com/bila-potters-exhibits-traditional-firing-of-earthen-pots/&gt; [Accessed 4 May 2020].

[4] Malingan, J., n.d. A Story Of Culture And Science: Bauko’S Ceramic Water Filter. [online] Pia.gov.ph. Available at: <https://pia.gov.ph/features/articles/1020990&gt; [Accessed 4 May 2020].

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