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Saknit is the traditional processing of sugar cane by the residents of Betwagan village of Sadanga town.
Before saknit commences, a rest day (te-er) in the community is declared by the elders. This would take a day or more.
A group of men called pangubfo shall be organized and oriented of their specific roles.
The men shall prepare the shuko (workplace), gather logs to be used for cooking, clean the jars (lo-ot) and vats (sangchar), and install the wooden mill (falliwesh) including the chawig, a wooden handle that is attached to the mill.
If nothing untoward happens in the community, the elders proclaimed the fuknag. A village crier roams and informs the villagers. Fuknag is a local term that men go and cut sugar cane trunk (patpat), clean the stems (wakwak) and bring them to the workplace.
In the evening, the owner of the sugarcane land where the men worked shall butcher and cook a chicken with salted meat (inasin) for dinner. A prayer to Igorot god Kabunyan for good health, peace and abundant harvest of sugarcane shall be said by an elder before the meal. The rite is called chemeg.
Before the start of milling, the gentlemen go from one house to invite ladies to help drive the chawig. In return, the ladies will be given share of molasses.
Milling is done by pushing the chawig in a circular motion. The juice is called finanar.
The juice shall be cooked in the afuyuan. The tinfah and inti (dry and sticky molasses respectively) shall be set aside to cool, while the fayash (wine), and shuka (vinegar) shall be placed inside the agmang (rice granary) for fermentation and storing.
The palay granary is a two-storey structure. The 1st storey is used for fermenting and storing the wine and vinegar, while the 2nd floor is solely for storing palay.
After all the activities are completed, the village crier roams and shouts around the community for the concluding right called shukto. All the mill equipment shall be disassembled; cooking utensils and other gadgets used in the activity shall be cleaned and kept properly.
By Francis B. Degay
Photo by Armando M. Bolislis