An act of affection in a moment of violence

It’s interesting to see how one culture’s normal activities may seem brutal or cruel in contrast to another. Take, for example, this particular afternoon spent in Banaue, Central Luzon, Philippines. We visited a very remote traditional rice-farming village nestled in the serene valley outside of Banaue, and lived, if for only an afternoon, as they do.

For these gentle people, the act of killing a live chicken with your bare hands is just a daily chore – something as natural as bathing or dressing the children. The capturing, killing, burning of feathers, gutting, and cooking were all just natural steps done in a jovial manner surrounded by light-hearted conversation. And yet, for those amongst us whose lives are the very definition of metropolitan, it seemed shocking, violent, and harsh.

Much of so-called modern society is so far removed from such practices, that it stings the senses. It’s too raw, visceral, real. Most of us are not vegetarian, and yet, we rarely question where this meat comes from. Surely the treatment of animals in massive American farms is far worse than these free-range chickens that had lived naturally until their time ran out.

Somehow it seems more natural than fast food.

The little girl in this series was helping her father to hold the chicken as he sliced into the neck. At one point she even began stroking the feathers as the blood and life drained from it; an act of affection in a moment of violence.

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  • Happy_Tinfoil_Cat

    I married a Chinese girl, in China, and she prepared our traditional wedding dinner pretty much the same way. Almost nothing went to waste; she even slit the bowels, washed them thoroughly and cooked them like noodles. Only the head and tail were left. Some people eat the head but the tail is considered 'dirty' ;^)

    • javajive

      Happy Tinfoil – I do commend many non-western cultures for putting the animals' body to full use. RE: tail – Ox-tail soup is very popular in Indonesia! 🙂 Can't do heads though. Not a chance. I'm not very good with innards of any kind, but certainly have seen my fair share of it all. If you dig deep enough in this blog you'll find a time I was tricked into eating brain… (shudder).

  • ouch, are you a vegetarian now?
    When i was small, in indonesia my pembantu sometimes brought home a live chicken and then in dinner time it was served as delicious food. I just never saw the process, that must've been horrible.

    • javajive

      I'm not a vegetarian. I respect that lifestyle and definitely see the benefits, but I'm not sure it's for me. In the past few years I've definitely changed my habits though. I don't eat nearly as much red meat, and try to eat much more fish.

      Growing up in Jakarta you must have seen goats being slaughtered for (Idul ____ – forgot)? I have lots of pics of that, but wasn't sure it would be tasteful to post them.

  • mattkoenigphoto

    Growing up in Oregon we raised chickens for ourselves and I remember taking them out to the chopping block and my Dad cutting their heads off. They would flutter around for a few minutes seemingly not realizing that they were already dead. Some might call that barabaric but as you pointed out it's really no different than the deaths of millions of chickens every day in the chicken factories. People are going to kill and eat chickens and I would argue that a free range chicken has a better life than one bred in a cage. A good movie on the issue of the food we eat (at least in the US) is Food, Inc. This is a great series of photos you have here documenting this activity.

  • Gorgeous photos as usual, Brendan.

  • Gorgeous photos as usual, Brendan.

  • MangoChow

    I’m from Manila and way back when I was 14, my dad got really sick and we invited some faith-healers who asked us to kill a chicken. We are devoted Roman Catholics but I don’t really know why my mom and dad invited them and they required my mom and ME (of all all the 4 kids in the family) to kill the chicken. 🙁 I held onto the warm body (really warm) and head. It wasn’t an easy task to do since the chicken was a big one and it kept writhing. My mom pulled out the feathers on the neck part and started lacerating it. It was unsightly but I had to do it for my dad. We had to drop some blood on the corners of our house and throw the innards to the nearest creek. :s By the way, nice shots! =)

    • Thanks for the interesting feedback MangoChow. I appreciate you taking the time to check out my work; am glad you like my photos. I hope to continue to explore your country.

      • MangoChow

        You’re most welcome. =) I like photography too but I haven’t bought myself a DSLR. I’m still stuck with my digicam. Hehehe. Anyway, I really suggest you to visit my province, Batanes Islands. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it but I bet you’ll love the place.