BILAO

Bilao

A bilao is a flat round-shaped rice winnower, a traditional implement in the Philippines. It is usually made from woven wood.

To winnow is to free grain from the lighter particles of chaff, dirt, small stones, etc., especially by throwing it into the air and perhaps allowing the wind to blow away impurities.

Up until a few decades ago, you would see a bilao hanging in the back of the house by the kitchen. And you’d see women using a bilao to adroitly “turn” (toss) white rice grains on it for the purpose of removing unwanted particles, like small stones.

Suman on Bilao
Suman on Bilao

These days, you’re more likely to see the bilao used as a food container. So now, you’re most likely to see it lined with banana leaves on top of which a lot of food is arranged.

bigas
uncooked rice

bigas
husked rice grains

paglilinis ng bigas
cleaning rice grains

pagtatahip ng bigas sa bilao

Kailangan ang pagtatahip ng bigas upang maalis ang ipa.
The cleaning of rice grains is necessary to get rid of the chaff.

Chaff refers to the husks of rice grains. The leftover “covering” that is unwanted.

The equivalent implement in Indonesia and Malaysia for separating rice from leftover husks is called a nyiru, although there are shapes other than round. One English translation used for it is “rattan tray.”