I’m on a road trip to Banaue Rice Terraces, home of the Ifugao people. On the way up in the various wet markets I came across nga nga in plastic packs. Nga nga is very very popular in Ifugao. It stains their teeth, and they keep spitting. Why is that? What is the reason for nga nga?
I was in Solano town and I went to the wet market and came across a specialty shop that sold nga nga and big tobacco leaves. I asked the nice lady how to use and chew nga nga. She was kind enough to instruct me in this popular practice in the nearby province of Ifugao.
Nga nga is a set of items:
– The nga nga / betelnut leaf
– The nga nga / betelnut seed
– apog / lime powder
You put the leaf on your palm, put in a cracked, cut, bitten betelnut seed, half will do, and sprinkle some apog on it. Then fold this set and chew. It will cause you to salivate, and you spit the orange spit concoction. You aren’t really going to swallow the stuff, you spit and do this for some 5 minutes. Then you are done.
I talked to a tour driver and he said he chews nga nga some 10 times a day. It is a habit that makes him and the others who do it feel warm. It’s also a social culture thing. Each nga nga aficionado will have his own combination of nga nga preferences. Some add tobacco to the combination and it adds a zing to their taste and makes them feel a bit dizzy sometimes.
Now I always somehow want to link this together with why and how about health. Why is nga nga healthy for these Ifugao people? I think it has something to do with the place they live in. Vast clean air, mountain terrain, high up, working in rice terraces and other jobs in the cool air. Not much meat available. Pork is expensive, catch your own chickens that you grow in your yards. Ifugao is inland, no much fish really. No goats and no beef. So meat / fish is in short supply for the Ifugao… and they need to keep warm… so I figure, this nga nga keeps them warm and supplies them with something, that keeps them warm.
I also experienced that with the amount of saliva you spit each time is that it works something like oil pulling. Detoxing through spit every time they chew on nga nga.
I remember my healer friend Vander say nga nga was very good at expelling worms. You do have to swallow the nga nga seed and it is more powerful when the seed is immature.
Try nga nga. I tried it. Just for the heck of it. Spit a lot of orange spit.
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