Benguet rescuers, evacuees ask for 'momma' with relief goods

BAGUIO, Philippines – “We only include the basic needs of our evacuees/IDPs (internally displaced persons). Thank you.”

This was the reply of the Department of Social Welfare and Development - Cordillera to Dr. Rodrigo Leal,  SOCO Cordillera Chief, regarding the inclusion of "momma" (a type of quid made from betel nut, areca leaf, lime powder and tobacco) among essential relief goods.

Momma is Cordillera’s indigenous “chewing gum” equivalent, especially among the Ifugao men.

The quid, when spit, is red. It's said when two or three Ifugao gather, they literally paint the town red from spitting momma.

Momma is one of the insistent requests of evacuees and rescuers in Itogon.

It is said that the quid delays hunger and acts as a stimulant and stress reliever. It is also said to help alleviate vertigo, which is needed when you have to walk on the edge of the towering rice terraces in Ifugao.

Momma is, however, blamed for mouth cancer and hypertension.

The red stain of the spit on pavements and walls has also brought many local government units here to ban the chewing of momma in public.

So as to motivate the rescuers, many of the donors in Baguio have included the quid among their relief goods.

Leal said the retrieval of bodies may take a week or more, considering that a huge part of the mountains in both Loacan and Ucab fell during the height of Typhoon Ompong over the weekend.

As the stench overpowers the scenery, rescuers are also requesting for gin not only for them to drink after but also to dab their nose. –