How To Lift 200 Pounds With Your Forehead…


The enormous basket of napa cabbage was already spoken for, and the name of the buyer and total weight of its contents were written on a small piece of paper, indicating 94 kilos (or 206 pounds) worth of cabbage… I can barely bench press 130 pounds on an inspired day, so carrying 206 pounds for an extended distance of any sort without busting a gonad or two was simply mind-boggling…


So here is how it is done. Squat down low and place the wide strap high up on your forehead. Then with the help of 2-3 buddies who serve to balance the weight on across your back, become one with the basket of cabbage.


And with a quick pop as you might see at the olympic trials for weightlifters, rise up quickly and confidently and voila(!), you are now carrying some 200+ pounds on your back and head.


This was so not unusual for this guy that a friend even handed him an ear of boiled corn so he could munch before walking the basket over to the nearby trucks, or if back at the farm, travel up to several kilometers to get his produce towards the market.


The farmers were certain anyone could do this and I tried to find a lighter basket to carry with their coaching, but fearing a hernia or worse, a serious loss of poise and uncontrollable fits of laughter, I chickened out of the attempt. I have so much respect for the farmers who toil not only to raise this spectacular produce in the far reaches of our islands, but also CARRY it great distances just to get it to market. Now if only some of the hundreds of millions or billions of pesos that went missing in the fertilizer scam, the handouts of cash at the Palace or ZTE-like shenanigans could be coursed to helping folks like this raise more, bigger, better priced and more conveniently distributed produce, then and only then might one say that we had truly scraped the bottom of the barrel of rotten organic matter and start to regain some sense of moving back onto the right path to national progress and pride. Sorry, couldn’t resist that. But things have been smelling really bad around these parts lately. :(


29 Responses

  1. That puts a lot of pressure on his neck and spine, one wrong move and he could easily break his neck!

    This reminds me of roadtrips when I was younger. My dad would buy from farmers peddling their produce on the roadside and he’d take everything- whole tranches of bananas, sacks of kamote, etc. When my mom complained of the apparent wastfulness of buying what we cannot consume (we would surely have to to give them away before they went bad), he’d just say “para makauwi na sila” He had great compassion for farmers, being one himself. My dad did work for the DA for some time. It was a thankless job for him. And it angers me that it seems whatever contribution for a better life for farmers he made in he 80’s and 90’s is being negated by all the corruption we see today.

  2. i agree! wih the corruption lately, giving our farmers a better life is far from realization. sometimes i really pity them specially when they had worked so hard and yet they earn so little for their families. hope the day will come when they will really be compensated for all the hard work they do. afterall, they are the ones responsible for giving us this fresh produce that we eat and serve our families everyday!

  3. MM, in your photo with the cabbages, you’re looking trim inspite of the holidays! Congratulations, I guess the dieting worked.

  4. Carol, it’s called the “suck your gut in for a few seconds while they snap a photo move” which I have perfected recently… :) Heehee.

  5. MM, if i suck in the guts to that same effect, i’ll be on the floor in a sec….and if i did a fair job on the gut, the ”dinner rolls” on the sides would still be hangin’ lose..

    that feat of lifting with the forehead is really worth mentioning. I have never heared of that before. i’ve seen other ways, but that’s remarkable!!! i’ll never complain about my job again (for at least a week..hehe)

  6. MM, The “basket cargador” (with all due respect to him) must work only short distances (from bagsakan area to truck). The farmer families I’ve seen carrying them same baskets are under 5 feet in height (from carrying them at a young age) from their rugged terrain farms to the market (A least 2 kilometers in distance). I’ve seen women and children carry them too.

  7. Ahhh.. Now I get it, suck the gut and hold your breath. Is this the main reason why you never want to publish your whole face on the web? ha!ha!ha!

  8. These are the people for me are the unsung heroes of the Philippines who continue to feed millions of Filipinos. If only the gov official will only make their life easier by building more roads to be able for them to transport their produce easier and faster to the markets.

  9. Carrying such a large load will eventually create a chronic backache and too dangerous just looking at it.But of course,our people do not have a lot of choice but to do a backbreaking job.
    MM, I am glad you did not carry that big load,it would be foolish to make any attempt. Your gut looks good, yes sucking it in does not take a second or two before picture taking.NICE

  10. I meant sucking your gut takes a second or two for those ladies who wants to cover some slight bulges.But if you have love handles forget the effort,it does not work.

  11. Herniated disc of the lumbar spine is a common claim among assembly workers in the Western world which rendered the worker a qualified injured worker. So farming the work out to China eased much tension from the employer not to mention their premium for their workers’ compensation liability carrier and filling out all the paperwork with the Occupational Safety Hazards Department of the Department of Labor. Mamang Tagahakot has to make a living and pitiful there is no job available for him except that meager task. He can beat Japan’s reigning Zumo wrestler champion in a flash with all the weights he carries in his day-to-day activities. Not only our government should build decent road and bridges to connect Point A to B but also refrigerated warehouses to keep the produce fresh and eliminate spoilage which equates lost to the producers – the farmers. They should also have a distribution center for direct planters to sell their produce without the middleman which is a shark tubong laway. We still have a long way to go to come up with the 21st Century standard. As to the use of pesticides and fertilizers, I do not blame these planters to resort to synthetic enhancers. They already put a lot of work into this orchard to meet the demand of their discriminating buyers. I soaped my veggies with dishwashing soap and rinsing them well before consuming them or I put a teaspoon of bleach in a gallon of water and soak my veggies in there and rinse them three times. Mamang Tagahakot deserves two shots of Red Horse at the end of the day for the hard labor he endured and my heart goes to him and I wish him very well!

  12. I salute the farmers and all those who make our veggies reach our table fresh and nutritious…eating chopsuey or pinakbet at reasonable prices is still a blessing for a lot of us. Veggies in season are still reasonably priced for us who live in a tropical country….Yes…we always pray that corruption will soon “evaporate”…our unsung heroes lug these huge loads…while crocodiles stay in airconditioned halls and squander away money meant from progress and nationbuilding (hmph!!).

    Kid yourself not guys,Mr MM looks fit even in person…..Thank you, Mr MM for bringing all these bits of info and photos to us. It was as if we travelled to Mantolongon with you.Reminds me of trips to Trinidad Valley when we were young…and women would do this tasks too……

  13. Some years ago, I hired some movers here in NYC. They were huge, burly men, some of whom were caucasian, some african-american, some hispanic. They ALL employed this method of using a strap where they pick up a box, strap it at the bottom, then the other end of the strap goes on the forehead (lower than the guy in your photo). I was amazed, and I told myself it reminded me of the Igorots I used to see as a child in Baguio. I asked them about it, and they said it was a very efficient way for them to lift. I did not want to pry further but I was guessing they learned it from their hispanic colleagues, cause I’ve also seen this done in Peru. I just never thought I would see it done in NY! (Ah and I moved from one walk up to another, so no elevators for the moving men!)

  14. I went to Mantalongon and surrounding areas about 25 years ago for fieldwork around the coal mines. When I saw men carrying baskets of vegetables (or sometimes coal) tied to their foreheads, I was amazed. Then I saw boys carrying similar but smaller baskets tied to their foreheads, I felt bad. Maybe these men developed their strong necks and ability to carry such heavy loads from all the practise they had as boys.
    Good thing you didn’t try it Marketman.

  15. I really have admired these hardy people for a long time! The first time I saw them was on my way to Sagada…their baskets high over their heads filled with tomatoes, sayotes, cabbages going down very steep mountain trails onto the main dusty roads. There should be a large photo exhibit of them permanently exhibited in the halls of Malacanang, Congress, Senate and other government agencies! Enough with photo ops of ribbon cuttings and ceremonial shovelings!

  16. I’m just wondering why “mamang kargador” won’t build him a dolly of just 4 ball casters and few pieces of wood, that won’t cost a lot, would it? I feel sorry for him and people like him because they don’t get compensated for what they do.

  17. That is why we should not haggle to the hilt. Note the “tawaran” that happens in the market.

  18. corrine, I always haggle at the market, those are the middlemen and traders after all. But I rarely haggle when I buy from farmers directly, whether roadside near their farms, walking to market or at wholesale markets… Marketfan, no, I didn’t think to ask what he made for lifting such a heavy burden…

  19. These farmers, school teachers, honest policemen, and other people who make very positive contribution to our society must be paid well. They are the real all-time heroes, and not those sports or boxing icons who make zillions to entertain the whole world. Its still a sick society we live in.

  20. Hi MM, nice of you to point out the other and traditional ways of transporting goods. Having read your post bought back memories of my lola. When I was a kid she would carry or balance on her head a clay tapayan of drinking water from across the street to their house. And she had to bring that up a flight of stairs!

    Don’t know of the health risks but she was a smoker and lived to 80! =)

  21. Try to transpose this picture to the highlands like Benguet or Sagada… Kudos to those who walk the sloping mountain sides with this on their heads….

    Is this method of carrying stuff an Asian thing? I.e. the tea leaf pickers in India, Japan;

  22. Thanks, MM. Posts like this make us give farm produce and farmers the respect that is rightfully due them. I feel awful seeing people work so terribly hard for a measly sum. Reminds me of a scene in Indonesia two years ago where kargadors went inside the crater of a stinking volcano, virtually engulfed in fumes, to pry chunks of sulphur (for medicine) and carry these down the mountain in large baskets. They, too, were carrying more than their weight, and early the equivalent of $3/day. The sight made me uncomfortable about being a carefree tourist. Where is justice?

  23. I wonder if anyone has noticed what the price margin is from farmer to retailer compared to the mark up between retailer and consumer.
    Whenever I have inquired, I found the mark up for the retailer is close to the farmers’ margin, who has to plant, and harvest, and risk losses from natural adversity.



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