Sunday, February 7, 2016

KX Outreach program for the Isneg community

With the partnership of Katutubo Exchange Philippines and the Ilocos Norte Medical Society (INMS) being forged since 3rd Katutubo Exchange program, they again tied-up with another project called Katutubo Exchange Outreach Program for the Isneg children of Dumalneg in Ilocos Norte held on January 10, 2016. There were 50 katutubo kids who participated in the activity, one KX alumnus Jesli Manuel and three young Iloko kid volunteers namely, Joshua Juan, Jessa Galandez and Jelmar Castro. 

The town of Dumalneg is one of the indigenous cultural communities of the province of Ilocos Norte and it is home to the Isneg population. They are also called Isnag, Yapayao or Apayao. 

It was the initial plan of INMS to conduct a simple gift-giving for the katutubo kids and later the president Dr. Miramar Bumanglag has thought of doing it meaningfully by asking what else should be done. 

It is the objective also of the KX Philippines to conduct outreach activity on health and nutrition so I suggested INMS to conduct orientation and lecture on health care. Dr. Liza Marie Paz-Tan, Dr. Sheila Rabang and Dr. Bumanglag did the lecture and demonstration on proper handwashing. They also inspired the kids of what is the job of a physician and how to become one with a talk from Dr. Callangan. All the INMS officers and members distributed the health kits, gifts and the lunch meals. Dr. Jeffrey Suangco, president of Rotary Club of Laoag has also joined our group. He gave an orientation on oral and dental care since he is a dentist. He also gave out toothbrushes, toothpastes and slippers. 

Before we started the program, we were welcomed by the people especially from the office of Mayor Espiritu represented by Ms. Arlene Galleng Domingo. Poetry and traditional dances were performed by the katutubo participants followed by the Iloko traditional dances by our young volunteers. 

Later, I introduced our volunteer group Katutubo Exchange Philippines, its missions, objectives and accomplishments. Since it is the aim of the organization to promote traditional art and indigenous cultures, I launched and conducted lecture and workshop on Baybayin, it is the ancient Philippine script which has been forgotten. The kids instantly learned on how to write and read Baybayin. It was a fun weekend with the katutubo kids and everyone enjoyed. They gifted us with boxes of rootcrop harvests namely: togui and laya. We took our lunch sponsored by Dr. Fernandez at his own restaurant in Bangui.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

KX Outreach Program for the Sulod Bukidnon

I went to attend the age-old festival Ati-atihan of Kalibo in Aklan so I decided to take my flight to Iloilo because it’s cheaper and so I can visit as well the community of Panay Bukidnon. I contacted the alumni of 3rd Katutubo Exchange namely Wilson Lastrilla, adult leader and former katutubo participants Reychel Mae and Jhon Denver to organize the Katutubo Exchange Outreach Program. 

The said activity was held on January 16, 2016 at the School of Living Tradition center of Brgy. Agcalaga in Calinog town of Iloilo. Straight from the airport, I went to the community of the Panay Bukidnon also known as Sulodnon or Tumandok, by taking a van and rented a single motorcycle. It was a remote place located up the mountains. I was accompanied by volunteer Mark who helped in the documentation of the activity. 

There were 25 children and six elders who participated in the outreach. There were performances such as traditional dances, indigenous music and chanting to welcome us. Wilson opened the program. I introduced our group Katutubo Ecxchange Philippines and later asked the alumni to share their experiences of 3rd Katutubo Exchange held in Manila. I also presented their certificates of completion of the program. 

Later I started the workshop on writing the old Filipino script Baybayin. I found the participants to be enthusiastic about the workshop especially Reychell and Denver who undergone same workshop at the National Museum during the KX program. I asked some of the participants to write infront and they were able to have it done correctly. 

I brought with me bookmarks which I made and wrote some phrases on Baybayin and asked them to read and instantly most of them can read it. After reciting correctly the words and phrases then I gave away the bookmarks. There was one little girl who can quickly read the bookmarks and I was impressed so most of the time she gets the bookmarks. The elders were able to follow also our workshop and I told them to employ Baybayin in their designs in their tribal embroidery Panubok. 

After the workshop, we took snack – royal bibingka, which I brought from Ilocos. While having snacks I asked them who wants to join the next KX and they all raised their hands. I was happy to see that but I told them that we will consider their community’s participation as we can plan it out. Later, we concluded the activity by thanking them all especially the KX alumni members.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Magdalena Gamayo: National Living Treasure

Another pride of Ilocandia is a 90 year old master inabel weaver who was awarded the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan or National Living Treasure by no less than President Benigno Aquino III at the Malacanang Palace on November of 2012.She is Ms Magdalena Gamayo who hails from the town of Pinili, Ilocos Norte. Manlilikha ng Bayan is the highest honor given to artisan, craftsman or folk artist. It is a title in the same order with National Artist and National Scientist. 

I initially met Mrs Gamayo months before she was conferred with the title of National Living Treasure, at Plaza Del Norte during ASEAN Weaver’s Forum organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). She took part in the said activity. She was so approachable and soft spoken old woman. I gave her a tribute together with another member of the Ilocano community and her co-awardee Teofilo Garcia by organizing and holding the Kannawidan Exchange program. The event was held at the Robinson’s Mall in San Nicolas Ilocos Norte a month after she was awarded in Malacanang. However, she was not able to come because she was covered by a policy that they should be invited a month in advance. However, she was represented by Mayor Samuel Pagdilao. 

I visited her several times also at her place in Lumbaan Bicbica which is already close to the borders of the towns of Banna and Nueva Era. It was really a far-flung area and distant from the townproper. One have to rent a tricycle to get there. 

Magdalena Gamayo or Nana Daleng as I usually call her, recalls that she started to weave at the age of 16. She learned the art of weaving from her aunt. Most Ilocanos because of difficult life, one has to do weaving even the male would engage on it while not tending the farms. Usually the looms are placed under the basement of the traditional nipa or bamboo house. She was able to have her first loom at the age of 19 and that lasted for 30 years. Then later bought a second loom to replace her original loom. It is a study wooden frame with three foot pedals with wide horizontal beams to support the warp and even longer lengthwise frame to keep the threads in place. 

Nana Daleng has that innate skills and expertise to come up with various designs. Initially she has been copying patterns such as binakol, inuritan, and kusikos to name a few. But later she learned to recreate or devise new set of designs. One design that she created is called inubon a sabong or string of flowers. It is a design that employs a difficult weaving technique called pinilian. This design also propelled her to be nominated and get the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Asian Living Human Treasures

The Asia Cooperation Dialogue in collaboration with the Philippine Government through the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs held the First Ceremony for the Commemoration of the Asian Living Human Treasures at the Manila Hotel on May 20-21, 2014.
On day 1, opening ritual was performed by the members of the T’boli community of Lake Sebu of South Cotabatao then opening remarks was given by NCCA Chairman Felipe De Leon, Jr., a message by DFA Undersecretary Laura del Rosario and a keynote speech by Senator Loren Legarda.
After the formal opening program, the exhibition of artworks of the Asian Living Human Treasures was opened to the public by Senator Legarda. A conference and forum was held in the afternoon citing the initiatives of the government to recognize traditional artists and conserve indigenous cultures & traditional crafts on the presentations of Chairman De Leon and Dr. Jesus Peralta. Thailand’s efforts in the preservation and promotion of traditional crafts was presented by Dr. Supanee Chayabutra while Indonesia’s initiatives was presented by Ms. Lucky Wijayanti.

On day 2, we toured them at the National Museum then the recognition ceremony followed after. The recognition was given to the following Asian Living Human Treasures:
Mr. Lam Kezan Chhoephel of Bhutan who creates “thankas” which are images of Buddha or deities in the form of painting embroidery, applique, or woven in silk
Ms. Hajahkadariahbinti Begawan Pehinudanakhatibdato Seri Paduka Haji Umar of Brunei is a maker of handwoven silk.

Mr. Mao Mon from Cambodia is a sculptor who uses wood stone. He exhibited Apsara (Goddess of Beauty) made of kraghouhg wood.

Mr. Mohan Lal Soni of India who is a master painter. He exhibited Mughal painting which is an Indian painting style.

Ms. Lucky Wijayanti of Indonesia who exhibited her artworks batik stamps and toraja ornaments which is a motif or pattern from a traditional architecture.
Mr. Mostafa Akhavass of Iran who is a master in Persian miniature, traditional drawing & gilding. He exhibited his artwork traditional musical instrument and cane reed flute with Iranian traditional design burned into its surface.
Ms. Kongthong Nanthavongdouangsy of Laos is a master weaver. She received the UNESCO Craft Prize on Textiles in Southeast Asia. She exhibited textile for wedding outfit and door curtain. 

Ms. Puan Hajah Nik Rahimah Binti Idris of Malaysia is known for her fine gilt strip embroidery or Sulaman kelingkam. Her artworks exhibited at the ceremony were the shawl (selendang) and veil (tudong) with gilt strip embroidery.

Mr. J.A.D.G.D. Jayasing of Sri Lanka is a replica designer and he exhibited the replica of Avalokitheshvara Bodhisatva statue, vehergala & replica of Apsara & stone sculpture lion.
Ms. Pranom Thapaeng of Thailand is a National Artist in the field of Visual Arts (Fine Arts – Art of Woven Frabric). She exhibited full chock cloth with multi-patterns, and silk cloth with ten ancient Chok parrterns, natural indigo dyeing.

Ms. Hanh Mai Nguyen of Vietnam is a maker of silk flowers. She exhibited her artworks lotus and rose-mallow.
And from the Philippines: Mr. Uwang Ahadas, Yakan musician from Basilan; Mr. Federico Caballero, master epic chanter of the Sulod-Bukidnon from Calinog Iloilo; Ms. Lang Dulay, T’boli master textile weaver from Lake Sebu of South Cotabato; Ms. Magdalena Gamayo, master abel weaver from Pinili, Ilocos Norte; Mr. Teofilo Garcia, maker of gourd casque or kattukong from San Quintin Abra; Mr. Eduardo Mutuc, Kapampangan metalsmith from Apalit Pampanga; and Mr. Alonzo Saclag, Kalinga musician and dancer from Lubuagan, Kalinga.
They were given each the Alab trophy sculpted by Rosario Bitanga. The sculptural piece is constructed out of semi-polished steel plate, light blue resin base and a yellow resin finial. It symbolizes a torch held by the guardians of culture.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Teofilo Garcia: National Living Treasure

One of my purposes to see Kawayan Festival in the province of Abra was to actually visit Mr. Teofilo Garcia. Early in the morning, we passed by at his home and he was no longer there. I met his daughter Carol and told me that he was exhibiting at the trade fair at the festival venue in the town center.

I saw him at his stall and busy displaying his items. We talked for a while and he mentioned some of his activities. He was invited to give a talk to students of one of the universities in the Cordillera and he still teaches his craft to students in one of the high school in his town.
Tata Teofilo Garcia is a local of Abra and he is an Ilocano. He is a self-taught artist who makes kattukong. It is an all-weather traditional headgear made of tabungaw or gourd. He makes the gourd hat for many years now and what is laudable is that he plants, gathers and prepares by himself at his own farm the materials needed for the kattukong. He uses the local upo, rattan and bamboo for the hat. He also experiments on using other variety of tabungaw.
Because of the excellence of his craftsmanship and artistry, he was selected by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts to receive the Manlilikha ng Bayan Award in the year 2012. He was awarded at the Malacanang Palace by no less than President Benigno Aquino III.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Kawayan Festival showcases Abrenian culture

The Abrenian Kawayan Festival is celebrated every month of March. Lucky that I had the chance to witness again for the second time. I enjoyed watching the grand parade of floats because they were all creative. There were 15 bamboo-inspired floats that depict the culture and the livelihood of the province of Abra.
Aside from the beautiful designs of the floats, I saw their fresh farm produce from vegetables, fish, honeybee, rice grains of various colors including balatinaw among others.
There were muses on board the float wearing bamboo inspired costumes and made of other indigenous materials. Handicrafts were also displayed.
The dance presentations of the various tribes especially the Tingguians of the province clad in G-strings and piningitan skirt gave color to the festival.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Helubong Festival of the T’bolis

Usually held in the second week of November is the mystical Helubong Festival. I was invited little over a year ago to judge one of the events of the celebration in the municipality of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato by Reden Ulo of the Sta. Cruz Mission School.
The Helubong Festival is a celebration of thanksgiving for the good harvest and abundance by the members of the T’boli community in Lake Sebu. The word means never-ending joy. True to the fact that everyone is happy during the celebration where they presented cultural performances, rituals, trade fairs among others. This is one way of the tribe to preserve and strengthen their art, heritage and culture.

I arrived early in town in the morning and went straight to see the parade. The T’boli ladies clad in their traditional attire with a sounding brass belt and displaying their red big round hats dance on the streets. I saw an old woman bring the traditional musical instrument called hegalong. Some of the boys were on a backride to a horse. I interacted with them and followed them in their parade.

Then a ceremonial program was held. Rituals were performed with the offerings. Some people were busy attending to their stalls for the exhibit and I saw many indigenous products. Some other people were cooking tilapia, sinugba, pinangat na tilapia, other traditional cuisines and exotic food like frogs. I can say that I was the first guest to have tried the dishes they prepared especially the tasty tilapia.
There were other activities such as horse fight that I witnessed. At nighttime, I was tasked to judge the Nga-Benoi-I or Mutya ng Lake Sebu. Young and beautiful T’boli ladies sashayed down the ramp.

This was another exciting trip to Lake Sebu and I can’t wait for another one.