Houses and Ornaments of Early Filipino Age

Topics: Floor, House, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan Pages: 11 (3403 words) Published: October 19, 2012

It is a small enclosed structure, a one-room affair that serves as living and sleeping room, kitchen and dining room.  It is elevated above the ground by four posts made of sturdy tree-trunks with roots intact.  It has solid panels for walls and tightly thatched roofing. The two main base girders – the horizontal support (at the front and back) just on top of the posts are held to these posts by dowels.  No nails are used.  The Ifugao carve each part of the house as interlocking pieces, the girders fitting into the supporting posts.  On top of the girders is a single-piece structure to support the flooring and on the four corners are the four king posts which bolt together the ends of the two base girder, the side girders and the rest of the structure. Two girders are placed in the right and left uppers structure to support the roofing.  A girder which is a one-piece structure spans these right and left girders and on which rests the upper king posts.  Rafters are made of seasoned bilaureeds and bamboos or betel palm slats.  The roof is usually made of bilau leaves of cogon grass.  The rooftop has side openings where smoke escapes.  The walls are made of wood or woven bamboo slats and the floor, of wood.  These are also shelves around the four sides of the house at the level of the walls.  These are used for storing plates, pots and other household items. The house has only one entrance opening carved by a detachable door hanging or attached on a rope or rattan where the ladder is placed but there is a smaller backdoor for throwing things down or for emergency exit. The Ifugao believe that spirits dwell in all natural things and they try to keep out the evil spirits by engraving on the door or on any conspicuous part of the house the figure of a lizard or a serpent believed to provide protection. At night, the ladder is pulled up inside and the family is safe from human and animal intruders. Leonardo Concepcion, in his lectures on “Architecture in the Philippines” presented by the National Museum and sponsored by US Ambassador and Mrs. William C. McBlair, Jr. writes.


Nipa huts were the original houses of the Kankana-eyand the Ibaloi of Benguet long before the coming of the Spaniards.  The nipa hut is still being used as a domicile today, especially in the rural areas.  It provides basic shelter from the most available and inexpensive materials and works well as protection against the wind and rain. The house is usually elevated to shoulder height with tree stumps as protection against animals and pests.  It is compact, making it easier to keep oneself warm in the cold mountains of Benguet.  It is constructed out of bamboo, stick, wood and cogon grass.  Tied together through the use of bamboo and rattan strips, this native house can withstand the gale-force wind during typhoons that ravage the country every year.


The science of constructing flat surfaces and retaining walls with stones on mountain slopes typifies the technology of much of the Cordillera. It is the same labour intensive technology that created the majestic rice terraces. This is one version of an Igorot house. It is rather compact and sheltered, making it easier to warm up in the cold mountain climate. It is also usually elevated to shoulder height with tree stumps as a protection against animals and pests. The ladder can be retracted into the house. This simple circular wooden plate prevents small animals like rats from climbing into the house and getting into the food supplies. Houses are also embellished with symbols to ward off unwelcome visitors, the non-bodily ones…. And certainly not a phone calling service for food!!! As you might have guessed by now, these “authentic” Igorot houses are rented out for tourists to experience the “real” thing.


At the rear of the ground floor a narrow door from the cha-la-nanleads to the sleeping compartment,ang-an, which forms the...
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