Endangered Management Practices in Ifugao Traditional Rice Production:  The Holok Pest Management System
Endangered Management Practices in Ifugao Traditional Rice Production:  The Holok Pest Management System

Endangered Management Practices in Ifugao Traditional Rice Production:  The Holok Pest Management System

Suggested citation: Ananayo,Z.(2009). Endangered Management Practices in Ifugao Traditional Rice Production:  The Holok Pest Management System. Nurturing Indigenous Knowledge Experts among the younger generations, Phase 3. nikeprogramme.net. https://nikeprogramme.net/?p=247

In early times, farmers believe that supernatural beings have direct influence on the success or failure of their rice crop. Consequently, crop problems such as pest infestation is often dealt with herbs and accompanying rituals to ensure that supernatural beings are appeased and subdue the pests that ravage their rice crops (Bulayo,1998).

Among the farmers in Cababuyan, O-ong, and Mompolia of Hingyon, Ifugao, farmers employ an indigenous pest management system commonly known as the holok (literally means grass). It is performed when the rice crops are attacked by army worms. Among other pests that attack rice crops, army worms are the most damaging since they inflict severe losses on the rice crop even before they are detected. The larvae feed on parts of the plants which are above the ground. Usually, they eat all parts of the leaves except the midribs. The worms appear sporadically and suddenly in immense numbers.

This pest management system entails the selection of thirty-four grasses supported by the performance of a ritual. In a study conducted by the Montañosa Research and Development Center (2005), utilization of this indigenous pest management system is traced as far back to 1860s. One of the key players in the performance of the holok pest management system is the bumhat. (Indigenous Perspectives, 2005). This refers to the person or group of persons who cut the grasses to be used. They usually belong to the same clan since being a bumhat is regarded as a gift from the deities. It is believed that only the plants cut by the bumhat and his kins are effective. Thus, only those of the bloodline of a bumhat can cut the grasses. This way, the technology is kept within the clan.

The whole ritual activity takes three days. Each farmer contributes a chicken or more for the ritual offering. On the afternoon of the first day, the bumhat, his relatives, and some volunteers secretly leave the village to gather the needed grasses. This is to avoid arousal of interest among the cynics which may affect the potency of the grasses (Indigenous Perspectives,2005). Having gathered the grasses, these are minced and mixed to make a compound . In the evening, the baki is performed at the rice granary of the tumonak. The mumbaki who performs the ritual should be highly specialized in performing rice welfare rituals (hongan di page) due to the austere restrictions (ngilin) he has to observe.

Invariably, the potency of the holok pest management system significantly lies in the observance of the ngilin. After the ritual performance, the mumbakibumhat, and volunteers are prohibited from attending death or bogwa wakes, eating bananas, aquatic foods, carabao meat, and vine vegetables. Further, they are not allowed to take a bath (Bulayo,1998). A tungoh (rest day) is announced the following day. Throughout the duration of the tungoh, one is neither allowed to go nor pass through the rice fields because presence of human beings in the rice fields may cause the potency of the holok to dissipate (Indigenous Perspectives:2005).

At present, however, farmers are trying to do away with the ritual performance inasmuch as most are already converted to Christianity. Also, grass cutters do not necessarily come from a bumhat clan. Nevertheless, they still have to religiously observe the restrictions since they have proven that non-observance certainly contributed to the failure of the pest control.

Below are photos of some herb components for the Holok Pest Management System:

Pesticidal plants used in Hingyon

Local NameCommon NameScientific NameClassificationHabitatPart/s used
1. Agguhip Anemone vitofolia Ham.HerbForestLeaves, stem
2. ApidanCarpet grassEleusine indica L.WeedRicefieldWhole plant
3. Ballatung  VineRoadside, swidden farm, mountainLeaves, stem
4. Banal Smilax bracteata Presl.VineForestLeaves, stem
5. Banallu Elaphrium rhoifoliumTreeForestBark
6. Billidan Issus quadrangular L.VineForestLeaves, stem
7. BolwangGiant fernAngiopteris evectaFernForestLeaves
8. BongoGisolKaempferia galangalHerbRicefieldRhizome
9. Bugatan Viburnum awabuki Koch.VineForestLeaves, stem
10. Bungbungtit Viburnum odoratissimum Ker.TreeForest, backyardLeaves
11.Daldaluttadit  VineForest, mountainLeaves, stem
12. Dulmun Pogostemon cablin BenthHerbForest, mountain, roadsideLeaves, stem
13. Du’luy  VineForestLeaves, stem
14. Gulgulpung Desmoium heterocarpon L.HerbRicefieldWhole plant
15. Haguyopyop Dracaena sp.HerbRoadside, forest, swidden farmWhole plant
16. Hilihil Sarcandra glabraGrassForestLeaves
17. Hu-ig  HerbForestLeaves, stem
18. Hukuhuk  HerbRicefieldWhole plant
19. Humang Alpinia sp.VineForestLeaves, stem
20. Kallawag (Big) Alpinia sp.HerbForestLeaves, stem
21. Kallawag (Small) Premna odorata BlancoHerbForestLeaves, stem
22. KatingolAlagawBridelia stipularisTreeForest, backyardLeaves
23. Laglagit Huptis capitataHerbForestLeaves
24. Lunglung Lantana camara L.HerbSwidden farm, rice fieldWhole plant
25. MarapaitCoronitas BushForest, mountain, roadsideLeaves, stem
26. Pagtik Trichosantes cucumerina L.TreeForestLeaves
27. Paladpalad Pitosporum sp.VineSwidden farm, forestLeaves, stem
28. Puhwik (elongated leaf)  TreeMountainBark
29. Puhwik (rhomboid leaf) Jatropha curcas L.TreeMountainBark
30. Tuba (bigger leaf)Physic nut tree TreeForest , backyard, roadsideBark
31. Tuba     (smaller leaf)Croton oil plantMollustus philippinensis Lamk.BushForest, backyardFruit
32. Umli (elongated leaf) Derris ellipticaVineForest, mountain, swidden farmRoots, stem
33. Umli (ovate leaf) Lashuanthus tashroi Mats.VineForest, mountainRoots, stem
34. UnigRound turmericCurcuma domestica ValetHerbForest, mountain, stream bankRhizome
Source: Guazon, C. 2004. Documentation and Collection of Pesticidal Plants in the Municipality of Hingyon. Master’s Thesis. Ifugao State College of Agriculture and Forestry.


Bulayo, Zenia. 1998. Holok Pest Management System in Hingyon, Ifugao. A Term Paper Submitted at the Department of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines, Baguio City.

Guazon, C. 2004. Documentation and Collection of Pesticidal Plants in the Municipality of Hingyon. Master’s Thesis. Ifugao State College of Agriculture and Forestry.

Montanosa Research and Development Center. 2005. The Holok: Rice Pests, Plants and Ifugao Gods. Indigenous Perspectives, A Journal of Tebtebba Foundation. Volume VII, No. 2.

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