Thursday, December 13, 2012

Induction Program of BIBAK-Bago of La Union

Timing was so good that right after my talk in Dagupan, I was invited in La Union to be the guest speaker and inducting officer for the induction program of the BIBAK-Bago new officers. This is a group for indigenous people. An organization created for the people of Cordillera Region. The member provinces are Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Abra, Apayao and Kalinga. This group also includes Bago ethnic group. 

This is also known as BIMAAK. Its main objective is to unite the people from the said provinces and uplift the indigenous roots of their group to be able to promote their communities preventing issues of discrimination and criticism. 

I am just so honored that they consider me to invite maybe because I work for northern cultural communities committee of NCCA and that they have known me conducted capability building seminar in San Fernando City. I was welcomed by the officers, Jhasper Lipaen and Daisy Carbonell and adviser Mr. Noel Sumingwa. 

They did the program during daytime for the first time for security purposes and it was held at the Lorma Gymnasium in San Fernado City La Union. It was a Sunday morning so many of the members were present and everyone’s busy doing their respective tasks. Some were preparing the venue and some were carrying the food they served after the program. 

They really had the unity and cooperation that brought them to successfully put up the event. I praised them for that because their organization won’t work without these elements. I cited the situation in their organization as an example in my speech revolving around the theme of the celebration stated as “Winds of Change: Island of Unity in a Sea of Diversity.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

NCCA Project Proposal Writeshop in Dagupan

The city government of Dagupan is eager to propose projects to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and this is the reason I got invited by City Administrator Vlad Tamayo to come and conduct a project proposal writeshop for the various organizations in the city last July. 

Representatives of the city government of Dagupan, universities and schools, cultural organizations and other groups attended the writeshop. Ms Louis Ann Velasco was the one who received me and introduced me to the participants. 

I had the opportunity to introduce to the partipants my agency NCCA, its vision, mission and objectives. I focused on the possible projects that they can work on. I gave them one by one the projects that they can grab from the National Committee on Northern Cultural Communities. There were trainings, seminar-workshops, school of living tradition, arts camp, community assembly, cultural performances, community festivals, lakbay aral and many others.

One particular objective they have is to beef up and enhance their city museum where we conducted the workshop so I advised them to lodge their proposal or request for technical assistance to the Committee on Museum.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

SSEAYP Pre-Departure Training

Another batch of delegates was selected for 2012. It is the 39th year of the program Ship for South East Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP). I was a former participant of it on its 29th year and it was exactly 10 years ago. 

SSEAYP is an annual cultural exchange program funded by the Cabinet Office of Japan. It aims to foster mutul understanding among the youth. A luxury cruise ship takes participating youths to different countries of ASEAN and Japan to make courtesy calls to heads of states, do institutional visits, stay with local host families, perform cultural shows and involve in discussion on board. 

While on board the ship a series of discussions is conducted among several groups of participants. Various topics are being discussed such as Youth Development, Social Contribution Activities, Environment and Climate Change, Health Education HIV/AIDS, School Education and Cross-Cultural Understanding Promotion. 

As a cultural worker I was invited by the National Youth Commission to give a talk and workshop on Cross-cultural Understanding Promotion to the delegates during their pre-departure training program at the First Pacific Leadership Academy in Antipolo City. They were given the task to portray the good values of a Filipino. In a short period of time they were so quick to conceptualize, practice and act out and delivered it well.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

T'nalak Festival of South Cotabato

We conducted the second part of our NCCA regular committee meeting on the same day of the T’nalak Festival in Koronadal City on July 18. While discussing matters at the meeting, we heard of the beat of drums and music in the street and so we took a break to see and enjoy the sights and sound. 

It was actually the street pageantry where the different groups of people particularly the different ethnic groups parade on the streets where they showcase their lovely traditional costumes costum-made for them with t’nalak material or with a touch of it. 

T’nalak is a hand-woven textile made from the abaca plant. It is the T’bolis traditional tapestry. T’bolis are indigenous people inhabiting in the province of South Cotabato in Mindanao. They do put on artistic designs on the traditional cloth which they get sometimes from the dreams of the old women weavers. They call them dreamweavers. The weavers work without preliminary designs but most patterns are handed down to them. This textile is a product of tedious and hardwork by the weavers where a meter of it takes about months to finish. Tinalak does not only serve as a decorative material but it expresses the warm welcome and honour to guests. The cloth also signifies the status of the owner. 

In producing this indigenous cloth, vegetable dyes and pigments from roots and bark of tree are used to give color to it. It requires good skill in weaving techniques because of the complex patterns that are designed in the t’nalak. 

While celebrating the Tinalak as being worn by the dancers and muses, they showcased skillful dance steps in the street. Lucky to have the free time in the afternoon to watch the dance showdown. There are different categories namely Madal Be’Lan for T’boli streetdancing, Kasagayan a Lalan for Muslim streetdancing, and Kasadyahan sa Kapatagan for Christian streetdancing. 

I was able to get up close to them because we were given complimentary tickets to the show to get in. I had the chance to meet and talk to Governor Arthur Pingoy, Jr and Vice Governor Tolosa. The festival queens of the different groups were presented. The dances depicted some of the different rituals, beliefs, traditions and occupations of the people in South Cotabato and waves the tinalak as they portray the process of making it. 

There was a downpour in the middle of the showdown but it did not dampen the mood of the people. The show must go on as they said. It was a spectacular festival centering on the tnalak and at the grand finale all of the groups were assembled and they dance while the announcement of winners were made. 

We took our dinner at the place of former NCCA commissioner Carlo Ebeo who served us pochero, inubarang manok, wild fern, kilawing isda and bamboo shoot salad. We got refreshed taking pure fruit juices. At nighttime, we were able to see of the best decorated houses. All are nipa huts decoratedwith indigenous materials. Fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants adored the houses. My group capped our day with a dose of durian. Truly a great treat for us cultural workers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cultural Exposure in Lake Sebu

Our team from the Northern Cultural Communities of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) had an out of region meeting last July. We decided to visit South Cotabato because of the T’nalak Festival celebrated slated on the same month. 

Upon arrival at the airport in General Santos City, we all went straight to Lake Sebu and visited the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) Awardee or National Living Treasure Lang Dulay of the T’boli group.

Lang Dulay is a traditional artist. She is popularly known as traditional weaver of t’nalak, an indigenous textile or cloth from South Cotabato. It’s a textile made from fine abaca fiber. She and her staff at the weaving center demonstrated some of the tedious process of weaving tnalak. They explained to us that they start with stripping of the abaca stem to produce the fibers then they have to dry the threads and tie each strand by hand. The tying of the fibers helps define the design during the dying stage. 

Some of the Tboli ladies have shown us how they do the back strap loom weaving. It is a difficult work because it strains the weaver’s back and eyes. They are required also to help in the farm after weaving. Lang Dulay makes various designs that include clouds, hair bangs, butterfly and others. Although she cannot expressed herself in the Tagalog dialect she explained to me one of the design she made during our visit. This Tboli textile is being bartered for horses in the 1960s and the Sta Cruz Mission encouraged the community to weave. Because of the excellence of Lang on the tnalak craft she was given the GAMABA award in 1998.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Food Offerings on Halloween

Before the celebration of All Saints Day, I was able to attend a funeral of a grandmother of my boss. It is customary for Ilocanos to pray for the eternal repose of the departed ones at home after the interment. This is usually led by the lady seniors in the community. There was also a preparation of food to be offered during the prayer. Since it was taxing to do it by the family, they just resorted to order one big set from a maker. This costs around Php 3,500 to 5,000. 

There was a total of 12 plates displayed on the surface of the bed being used. It was covered with an inabel cloth and the plates were placed on top. The number of plates varies from one town to another. Some may have 13 or some may even have 21 plates. The whole set is referred to as umras. It is composed of baduya, sinuman, pelaes, busi, linga and additionals are the beetle nuts, cigars, eggs, rice, and candles. 

The food offerings have to be put to stand from afternoon until the wee hours of morning. One is usually stationed to keep watch of it. It is believed that the spirits roam around this period of time. Afterwhich the food are being taken off from the offertory table or platform and its being eaten by the family members and shared to the neighbors. 

In Pangasinan, I was lucky to have tasted again the inlubi at home after a very long time. It’s a black pinipig which is a glutinous rice just right after its harvest in its shell burned and pounded to give that black color. It is being cooked with coconut milk and being stirred continously until it binds and sticky. My mom bought the pinipig for me then my brother cooked it for me. This is what I really missed during the Halloween. It can be turned into a rice cake or simply blanced and added coconut milk and young coconut meat. These are yummy Halloween delicacies.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dayaw 2012 Soft Opening

As a kick off to the celebration of Dayaw 2012, an indigenous peoples festival to be held in Malolos Bulacan on November 27-29, 2012, the Subcommision on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts (SCCTA) in cooperation with the Public Affairs and Information Office (PAIO) of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), a press conference and an opening of an exhibit was held in the NCCA office in Intramuros, Manila on October 24, 2012. 

The press conference was attended by mediamen from television, radio and print media. Most of us executive council officers of SCCTA were there to talk about the upcoming celebration. Chairman Felipe De Leon has delivered his keynote speech. 

Miss Universe 4th runner up Venus Raj was invited and declared as the Dayaw Ambassador. She gave her thoughts about Dayaw. She even wore a T’boli costume. 

After the presscon, an exhibit of arts and crafts was formally opened to the public at the NCCA art gallery. These are the collection of products of the project School of Living Traditions. Crafts showcased were mats, textiles, costumes, accessories, woven handicrafts, bags and many others. There was even a pair of shoes styled with colorful mat. Its an innovative design.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bulacan gears up for Dayaw 2012

A grand celebration of the indigenous cultures called Dayaw 2012 will be held in Malolos, Bulacan on November 27-29, 2012. It is an annual celebration conducted under the auspices of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. 

It will be a showcase of cultural performances, rituals, traditional games, fora, arts and crafts exhibit, traditional cuisine demonstrations and cultural tours. With the celebration’s theme “Katutubong Pamumuhay, Halawan ng Aral sa Buhay” (Indigenous way of life, source of lessons in life), a total of 45 cultural or indigenous communities will converge and highlight the importance and richness of the indigenous cultures. 

Some of the indigenous communities participating are Gaddang, Isinay, Tinggian, Itneg, Ibanag, Yogad, Itawit, Malaweg, Ivatan, Bugkalot, Isnag, Kalinga, Ifugao, Ibaloi, Kankanaey, Balangao, Bontok, Applai, Ayta, Mangyan, Palawani, Molbog, Jama Mapun, Tagbanua, Pala’wan, Batak, Cuyunon, Agta, Ati, Panay Bukidnon, Waray, Abaknon, Yakan, Subanen, Manobo, Higaonon, Bagobo, Mandaya, Mansaka, B’laan, Sangir, Ata Manobo, T’boli, Teduray, Arumanen, Mamanwa, Maranao, Magindanao, Iranun and Tausug.

Dayaw celebrates the cultural richness of the country through its indigenous peoples. It is hoped that the festival will foster a deep appreciation of their contributions.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Encounter with the Bago Community

After providing technical assistance to the municipality of Santol, we went to visit the school for traditional culture in the town of Suyo in Ilocos Sur. District Education Supervisor Cian Tumacdang showcased to the group the established elementary and high school for the Bago community. 

At the elementary school, we saw indigenous materials for instruction being used in teaching. There were some miniature traditional houses inside the classroom. They teach the traditional songs and dances. 

We were treated for snacks at the riverside shaded with tall trees over some performances of the children. There were some welcome chants they did when we arrived. Traditional dances were performed especially the patot. It’s a depiction of an erring family man driven away from the community. He may be accepted again if he changes. 

According to National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) website, “the group Bago or Bago Igorot were identified first in the town of Pugo in the province of La Union. This ethnic group is a highly acculturated group whose villages are along major transporation routes between the lowlands and the Abatan, Benguet markets in the highland. 

The major ritual practices and beliefs are somewhat related to the northern Kankanay, thus the idea that the people were migrants because of trade from western Mountain Province. The Kankanay regard them as such and not as a specific ethnic group. The language is a mixture of northern Kankanay with an infusion of lowland dialects. Most of the individuals are bilingual with Ilocano as the trade language. 

Their agricultural activities revolve around a mixture of highland root crops like sweet potatoes, yams, and taro, and lowland vegetables and fruits.” 

After the performances of the elementary pupils, I was requested to give a lecture about the programs and activities of the NCCA at the secondary school. The high school students rendered also some performances.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Technical Assistance to Santol's Indigenous School

As one of the executive council officers of the Northern Cultural Communities committee of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), I was tasked to provide technical assistance to the establishment of a school for traditional culture for the Bago cultural community in the town of Santol in La Union province last July. 

I met education supervisors Dr. Miriam Najera and Pedro Cudal of the Department of Education Regional Office who took me to Santol for sleepover at Santol Pavillion. On the next day I met Mayor Daisy Sayangda through Mr. Jerry of CLST. We went to Mangaan Elementary School and started the forum there with the indigenous peoples community especially the elders. 

Prior to that I gave a lecture regarding the programs and activities of the agency most especially the call for proposals. Everyone of them became interested with the priority projects that they can apply for. Some projects are appropriate for their school for culture and traditions.

Later after the forum, I handed over to the mayor some of the publication materials and audio visual items which they can use for the school.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Peep into the Mystical Callao Cave

After my stint as judge in the Sambali Festival of Piat, I went on a side trip to the famous Callao Cave located in the town of Peñablanca in Cagayan close to Tuguegarao City. Mr Conag and Ms Mendoza accompanied me to see this wonderful cave. 

We climbed the 189 steps of the ladder going to the first chamber. Callao Cave is a cave with seven chambers. It is a popular tourist attraction in the province as well as in Region 2. While ascending the stairs, one can view the breathtaking sight of the river. As soon as we reached the first chamber, we saw the chapel with the image of Virgin Mary. It is truly a unique and natural setting for a center of faith. It has of course gigantic stalactites and stalagmites. 

The first chamber has that natural crevice, which allows light to get into the cave, which serves as illumination for the otherwise dark areas of the place. I was not able to get to the other chambers because I got only limited time since Im going back to Laoag on that same day.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Miraculous Lady of Piat

I have been always hearing the Our Lady of Piat from friends. Most of them make a pilgrimage to Cagayan and some of them are devotees to the Virgin. The image is said to have made miracles. 

According to history that when the Spaniards set foot in Cagayan in the 16th century, they tried to convert to Christianity the Itawis town of Piat especially the aggressive Kalong sub-ethnic group but they failed and it resulted to war. The Spaniards really did not give up until the image of Our Lady of Piat was brought to Cagayan from Macau and made so many miracles. The original name of the image is "Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario." With the miracles observed the people gradually were converted to Christianity. 

In Itawis laguage, she is called Yena Tam Ngamin that means a mother to us all. I was lucky to have paid homage to the image when I was invited to judge the Sambali Festival last June. I was toured around by Education District Supervisor Francisco Conag. He said that the old church was demolished to put up a new and bigger one. The original church should be preserved because that is a heritage. Many people or devotees queue to visit the image during its feast.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sambali Festival of Piat

Last June 27, I was invited to judge the street pageantry and dance showdown competition of the Sambali Festival in Piat, Cagayan. I traveled from Laoag to Tuguegarao by bus but the Mangapit suspension bridge was under construction and we have to cross the river by barge. We waited for nearly 2 hours before crossing since it was raining. 

I arrived early morning so I took a nap at the terminal then I was fetched by teacher Eva Mendoza. It rained cats and dog and so she hired a van going to Piat after taking our breakfast. Upon arrival at the place, we were advised that the event was postponed due to heavy rain. 

I was introduced to Mayor Leonel Guzman and to the other sanggunian bayan members where I had an orientation of them about National Commission for Culture and the Arts. They were happy to know the agency and learned its projects and programs. We all had lunch at the town hall and the mayor proudly introduced to me the pawa, an original native delicacy of their town. It is made of ground glutinous rice with ground peanut inside. I liked it very much. I was accommodated for the night at the house of district supervisor Conag. 

It was good that the sun shone on the next day where everyone, early in the morning, was all set for the competition. Students of elementary and high school were the major participants and they were clad in their indigenous costumes and some of them body painted with black. 

The festival was derived from the sambali dance which is a war dance of the Itawes tribe of Cagayan. These natives were later converted to Christianity through the intercession of the Lady of Piat. 

This year marked the 23rd year of celebration of Sambali Festival in the town of Piat since its revival in 1989. This is a spectacle of color and dances brought about by centuries-old cultural traditions. 

In the Mallaweg dialect, the word Sambali means "war". It is being portrayed through a dance between different tribes. There are two native women called ayayas, running and shouting to forewarn both parties about an imminent war to start the scene. 

The new Catholics or twits are usually clothed in white camisas and pants while the dadayas are clad in red strings. Both camps then march to the battlefield armed with shields and spears. 

The battle begins as the warriors dance to the ethnic drum and gong beatings. Then I have seen the fight ends with the Catholics rising victorious, which symbolizes the reign of Christianity over pagan beliefs and practices.

Monday, July 9, 2012

For Hopeful Children Project

On March 23-27 this year, I participated in the noble project of the Thailand SSEAYP Alumni Association and Fund for Friends. It is called For Hopeful Children Project (FHCP). This project was established in 1991 to cater for underprivileged children calling them hopeful children to basically create positive hopes in them to live in a competitive society by providing opportunity for physical and mental development. 

The said project was first implemented at the Phayathai Orphanage in Bangkok with 150 children. On its second year it was done in Rayong province to let the children experience the beach. This year, there were a thousand delegates who participated in this project with a million budget and it was held at the camp of Royal Thai Marine Corps in Sattahip in Chonburri. 

Being the country leader for the Philippines, I brought to Thailand the youth volunteers namely: Fatima Fae Tolentino, 16, Kristoffer Guerrero, 16, and Joebel Bautista, 11. We took a PAL flight and when we landed in Bangkok airport, we were fetched by Dr. Surasin, one of the staff of the project. She drove us through Sattahip and it was around four hours.

It was already late when we arrived at the military camp. The founder of the project Mr Visit Dejkumtorn was there to welcome us and we had dinner together. Then we proceeded for orientation at the other building. We were the first delegation who was introduced. There were delegates from Japan, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. I saw some old friends. 

On the next day, we welcomed all the participating hopeful children from all over Thailand. There were about a thousand children. I have seen wheelchair-borne kids, blind, kids with physical disabilities and orphans. After all were in, we directed them to the food fair where stalls of food and whatnot served to the children fromThai noodles, meals, sweets to even fried ice cream. 

After lunch, the kids were treated for a swim in the beach. The area was cordoned by military men to safeguard the children. Everyone enjoyed the water. They even played with sand and there were some games too. 

Early dinner was served late afternoon. A dog show and a sky diving were showcased to the children. After that we had an opening program with the chairman of the military wives. There was presentation of gifts from each country. I offered abel cloth as gift. Cultural performances were presented by different groups of children. There were groups of indigenous children of Thailand as well. 

On the following day, we did a round of enviroment clean up. This is to teach them to care for the mother earth. Another exciting event that these children enjoyed was cruise around the bay. Each of the delegates was brought inside the barge. I was able to talk to some of the children. We came back for lunch and there were some workshops and games. 

At night, there was another set of cultural presentation where Kristopher and Fatima performed Philippine folk and pop dances while Joebel did the narrative intro. 

We had a closing program where we received our certificates from the commandant himself VADM Pongsak Phureeroj and eventuallly bid goodbye to all of the participants. 

On a side trip we were taken at the Noongnoch Village inPattaya where we saw different animals. We had lunch and rest. Then we finally headed to Bangkok for overnight with Mr Visit. The Japanese delegates treated us for dinner then my friend Nery took us to Khaosan Road for the children’s shopping at the night market. 

On our last day in Thailand, we were sent off by Visit to the airport and bid him farewell and we expressed our gratitude for the great opportunity.