After their business meeting, this group of local businessmen in Baguio associated with an international business and civics club trooped to their favorite eatery to feast not on beef tenderloin but on dog meat. In order to evade any protest against eating dog meat from those who don’t understand the culture, locals simply refer to their meal as “Aw-aw”, a play on the sound of a dog’s bark.
This scenario in Baguio and the Cordillera raises the eyebrows of Westernized individuals, with a western mindset and cringe further at the thought of eating poor Blackie, sometimes in a derogatory way.
But while other nationalities might walk away at the thought of eating beef because their culture venerates cows, eating dog meat in the Cordillera is its flipside. Cordillerans don’t venerate dogs. It is the same culture as eating frogs, beetles, crickets and rice field mice for the Kapampangans. Culture will always be relative, and it includes culinary preferences.
Dog meat consumption was originally for domestic use—for small celebrations until food entrepreneurs in La Trinidad and Baguio City began to open restaurants dedicated to serving dog meat only, much like the catfish only restaurants in Cambodia. Back home here in the Cordillera, particularly in Sagada, Mountain Province, dogs were part of rituals thought to protect the community from harm brought about by tribal wars. Dogs were used as offering and sacrificial animals, in the same way that ram and lambs were used by people in the Old Testament as offerings and sacrifices for a variety of reasons.
In a report written by Desiree Caluza at the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) Northern Bureau desk, Sagada locals said dogs were sacrificed to cleanse a warrior after killing an enemy. This was premised on the assumption that the warrior comes home ‘dirty’ or ‘guilty’ after killing an enemy. As part of the ritual, the dog’s bile was read for signs by a pagan priest. A good reading means they have appeased “spirits”. The ritual continues while the dog meat is being cooked with the pagan priest chanting and dancing. The cooked meat is offered again and un-offered meats are given to the community to be eaten.For its gastronomic value, dog meat was eaten in the Cordillera to stave off the cold weather since dog meat warms the body. When the Koreans came and es