Logging practices

Kapangan have a number of practices and laws regarding logging which are results of their long years of experience and observations in logging. While some of these practices have scientific rationalization, others have spiritual explanations.

The old folks have learned that time is an essential factor in harvesting trees. The best time is during the dry months, which is from November to April when the logs harvested are less prone to having wood pests (i.e. bokbok, woodborers, and fungi) which destroy wood. On the more mystical side, they also believe that logs for constructing houses are more durable if harvested when the moon is on its last quarter phase.

There are also certain beliefs in connection with cutting down trees. For instance, once a person is on his way to the forest to cut a tree, he must keenly observe his path for unusual signs. Cutters would then interpret these unusual things as warnings that the tree must not be cut; else something unwanted might happen to the cutter. One sign that the cutter should watch out for is a bird called lapit or talestes crossing his path or a bird chirping strange sounds.

Additionally, for every tree that cut down, “permission” must be asked from the spirit guardians. For instance, before finally cutting it down, the tree cutter would first call out for the spirit/s residing in the tree to please move out so it won’t be hurt. Secondly, the base of the tree that was cut would be covered with soil so that its inhabitant that left would not be able to identify it as its former home. It is believed that when these are not practiced, the cutter would get bald or worse, acquire an illness.

Certain unwritten laws on logging are also observed by the locals. First, unless permitted by the owner, cutters may not cut trees from private forest. Second, only locals are allowed to acquire logs from the forest for house construction purposes.

After the trees are harvested, they are turned into logs which are then cut into lumber. The logs harvested are first sun-dried before they are cut into lumber. Sun-drying is vital in reducing the weight, minimizing shrinkage and swelling, preventing decay and destruction by fungi and borers and in making the lumbers more durable. In the past, they made use of a saw which is manually operated by two persons in cutting logs into lumbers. The lumbers or timbers are then arranged in a position leaning to either side of a wooden support which is raised a few meters above the ground.

After sun-drying, the lumbers are piled beside or under a house. For proper air conditioning (which has the same purpose as sun-drying), small pieces of wood or sticks are inserted between the lumbers.

Forest Products

Forests are sources of lumber as well as food. In the past, the local hunters would devise traps for wild animals such as wild chicken, birds, squirrel, foxes, cloud rats and wild cats. Others would also train dogs for hunting (anop) to assist them especially when they do night hunting.

Likewise, wood had also been used as fuel for cooking. Conscious of the importance of preserving the forest, the locals had made it a practice to collect only the defective and dried branches of dead trees.