Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kids on Project Photography all over the place

In continuing the implementation of Kids on Project Photography (KPP), I kept on visiting my beneficiaries or students to follow up their skills and motivate more interests from them. I conduct the workshop in new places especially to the indigenous kids whenever possible.

After a year I went back to visit Subic Bay Childrens Place in Olongapo City on the month of January. The residents are orphans and it used to be a home of Ameresian kids. Im just surprised that some of them still recognize me. This time around, there were so many of them attended my Kids on Project Photography workshop. I gave a refresher on basic photography outdoor then conducted a hands-on shoot. Again as expected, they are fond of posing for the camera. 

Next was a visit to the children of Pag-Amoma Children's Place in Davao City on the month of January but an interesting activity we did on August of 2012, I took my students to the Kadayawan Festival celebration of Davao. Mommy Lisa, the house parent, turned them over to me for the day for the workshop. I met them all near the Marco Polo Hotel, the assembly point of the parade. I gave them each a uniform T-shirt and they were happy to receive it. We moved infront of the City Hall for the festival program. This activity was an on-field shoot to experience festival photography. 

I tagged along a few of them namely Rolita, Katrina, Roshell, Ramil, Jaymar & Joanne to experience covering an event. But because of a dense crowd, we did not get a good vantage point and cannot even penetrate. We just had portrait photography of the indigenous peoples in their ethnic attire and lucky to have coached by a newfound friend photographer Jacob Maentz. 

We took the kids for a tour around the city visiting Davao Museum, Bone Collector Museum and the Islamic Center.

I went back a few times to see the kids of the Aeta community in Bataan. What was so special was that we had photo shoot of mother and child because it was Mother’s Day on May. I asked them to find their mama then any of their siblings for the portrait photography. Everyone cooperated and got successful with the activity. 

Later, we participated in the medical mission of Zambales Vice-Governor Ramon Lacbain II on the month of July in Castillejos town of Zambales, I had the chance to implement the Kids on Project Photography to the children of the Aeta community in Canaynayan Resettlement Area. I met many kids who were there and I invited them to join the workshop. Some of them were shy at first but when some of them started to try it out then one by one came up to try it also. Even if they are done with their turn they still ask for another round. There was even one boy named Marvin who came back with a nice shot, a volunteer soldier doing a free barber to a boy. It’s amazing to learn that he has that inclination towards photography. 

Another indigenous people’s community that benefited from KPP was the Batak ethnic group. They belong to the Negrito family and exhibits dark skin and kinky hair. We had the cultural immersion after a meeting in Puerto Princessa in Palawan so we met them for some interaction and peformances. Then I saw the kids and I introduced them to photography and they enjoyed their first exposure. 

Lastly on December, we conducted psychosocial healing & art workshop for the quake victims in the Sagbayan town of Bohol. I met some young children. I encouraged them to try out my DSLR camera and a four-year old boy got so interested shooting some of the people especially his father. He sweated a lot but enjoyed the workshop.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Indigenous Youth participate in Katutubo eXchange

A voluntary group of cultural workers called Katutubo eXchange Philippines (KXP) headed by its president Dr. Edwin Antonio held the first-ever Katutubo Exchange for indigenous youth and children. 

The cultural exchange program was held on August 10-14, 2013 in Manila to celebrate the International Youth Day and the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples with the theme “Katutubong Kalinangang Filipino: Ipagbunyi sa Mundo!” 

Thirteen indigenous youth, from 10 to18 years old were selected to participate in the program. The Manobo, Bagobo and Matigsalog orphaned children of the Pag-Amoma Children’s Place from Davao, Katrina Lacia, Roshell Royo, Jaymar Laidan and Ramil Eman, got the chance to touch base with their roots through their performances. They were accompanied by their adult leader Elisa Templado and were flown in to Manila by Cebu Pacific Air. 

The Aeta children, composed of Clarise Cayetano, Jerafi Tamundong, Raymond Gulisan and Jacob Gulisan with adult leader Rosalee Joy Reyes, were supported by the provincial government of Bataan. They likewise performed ethnic songs and dances. 

The Ivatan youth delegation of Batanes with Ralph Ezra Viola, Christian Gabilo, Olga Galat and adult leader vice mayor Anastacia Viola were supported by the municipal government of Basco. They featured the palo-palo dance, vakul, and laji, an oral tradition. There was also a special participation of Angelic Claveria of the Isnag ethnic group from Apayao, who performed a monologue depicting their community’s culture and tradition. 

On day one, the delegation performed at the GSIS Museum of Art during the Philippine Art Educators Association seminar and art exhibit and the KX opening and homestay matching program. The second day was an enjoyable and memorable stay with their respective host families led by Florinda Vaflor, Marivic Langit, Kelly Flynn and Shiera Rivera. They were brought to the Rizal Park and the malls for ice skating. They also dined out and did other activities, experiencing a new home in the city. 

On day three, the KX participants went for a courtesy visit at the city government of Manila and were toured around the city hall and the Manila Zoo. A cultural program was held at the Leandro Locsin Hall of the NCCA with chairman Felipe De Leon, Jr. receiving and giving them an inspirational message. It was attended by deputy executive director Marlene Ruth Sanchez and NCCA secretariat members and guests from the Department of Education, Manila Tourism Office and National Archives. NCCA executive director Emelita Almosara hosted a lunch for the delegates. The Embassy of Japan in Pasay City was also visited by the KX delegation for an origami workshop under the Hello Japan program. 

On day four, the delegation had a courtesy call with the National Youth Commission chairman Leon Flores III and executive director Shierwin Taay. The delegates were given a talk on the issues and rights of the youth. 

Lastly, a grand farewell concert program was conducted at the St. Mary’s Academy in Pasay with Sister Lourdes Cao, principal and Orlando Abon who arranged the event. The school’s auditorium was jam-packed with elementary graders who were happy to watch and experience for the first time the culture of indigenous peoples. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dayaw Festival Celebrations

It is the mandate of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to preserve, develop and promote the indigenous culture of the Philippines. One of its flagship programs is the Dayaw Festival, an annual national indigenous people’s celebration. It is conducted throught the auspices of the Subcommission for Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts (SCCTA). 

I have been involved in the celebration for two years. The first was the Dayaw 2011 in Davao Del Norte in the city of Tagum that was held in October 7-9 at the Energy Park in Apokon. It is such a wide area that the activities are scattered all over. One needs a trasportation to get to one of the events. 

I brought a group of Ilocanos to perform at the event. They were Dr. Esmeralda Baldonado, Johnstone Corpuz, Fatima Faye Tolentino, Kristopher Guerrero, Racquel Joy Domingo, Dessa Duque, Allen Vic Mamuad, Glenn Tadena & special participation of Bliss Castillo. 

The delegation performed folk dances such as Binatbatan & Saguday, featured pipian dish from Vigan to the cooking demonstration and showcased the birthday ritual Padapadakam of Ilocos Norte. They participated in the various activities of the festival namely traditional games and outreach activity. 

My delegation was brought to Davao City for a visit and interaction to students and teachers of the Santa Ana National High School. They were so happy to welcome us where my delegates performed side by side with their award winning local dance group. We were treated for sumptous lunch with durian as dessert. 

We proceeded to NCCC (New City Commercial Corporation) mall for our show with other participants. We were put at the side of building with no audience so I asked the management to put the show at the lobby and there were many shoppers amazed and enjoyed the performances of the indigenous peoples. 

There were several shotcomings in the preparation of the festival especially in terms of management and organization but we were able to finish it. 

Another Dayaw celebration held on the following year and it sailed smoothly because the preparations went well with the full participation of the members of the Subcommision on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts. 

Dayaw 2012 was held in Bulacan in the town of Malolos. I brought another set of Ilokano delegation composed of Brilliante Albano, Valenne Rivera, Tristan Irome Guinto, Bennie Bautista, Jhasper Lipaen, Daisy Mae Carbonell,

This group is composed of the Tambor and Pito group (School of Living Tradition project funded by NCCA), a pair of dancers and the Bago representatives who featured upland dances. We featured this time inabraw nga marunggay for the cooking demonstration. The fruit is not eaten in the southern part of the country it was something new for them. We brought likewise inartem nga bawang and it was a hit for them. 

We also participated in other activities such as the trade fair held at the Capitol Gym where I brought to sell some inabel blankets and bugnay wine. It was sold out. Other groups of indigenous peoples sold their arts and crafts. The largest seller is the T’boli group raking in a huge amount from the sales. The Iloko/Bago delegation was assigned to do an outreach program or show at the Robinson’s Pulilan. We were teamed up with Talaandig of Bukidnon and Cuyunen of Palawan. After putting up a good show we had interaction with the audience thru question & answer. 

Some performances were conducted at the Forest park. There was also the crafts demonstration such as the vakul making of Batanes. Then we had grand performance show in front of the Barasaoin Church. The cultural presentations lasted for three hours. 

It is very unfortunate this year that Dayaw Festival celebrations will be cancelled because supertyphoon Yolanda struck Leyte and other provinces. We were in Tacloban, meeting for the preparation of the said event, two days before the landfall of the typhoon. It was indeed a very sad and low moment for all our brothers and sisters in the Visayas region as well as the entire country for the extreme devastation.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Kick-Off Celebration for Dayaw 2013

The month of October is declared as the Indigenous Peoples Month in the Philippines. As a celebration, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts annually organizes and conducts the Dayaw Festival. 

The term Dayaw connotes respect, dignity, praise, take pride or to show off. The word can be found in several local languages in the country. Dayaw Festival has been annually celebrated in the country since 2007 under the auspices of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

On October 6 an Indigenous Peoples flash mob signalled the start of the Dayaw Festival celebration. We held it first in the morning at the Luneta Park in Manila bringing a group of T’boli & Maguindanao from Mindanao and a group of dancers from Manila. The crowd was surprised to see them and they stopped to watch. Then the group was brought to the Mall of Asia in the afternoon and the shoppers likewise surprised but enjoyed the show. 

While they were in the Mall of Asia, we went to visit the talk show of Mr Boy Abunda, NCCA Arts Ambassador at the ABS-CBN Network in Quezon City. We went to give a token to him and promote Dayaw to his show. 

On the following day, we held a press conference at the NCCA Office and had some media interviews regarding the upcoming Dayaw Festival in Tacloban, Leyte on November 27-30, 2013 with the them “Ipagbunyi ang Katutubong Hiyas para sa Daigdig.” 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation featured on View Magazine

I am happy that my article about Kapurpurawan Rock Formation of Burgos in Ilocos Norte landed on the pages of View, a travel and lifestyle magazine and my photograph of it was chosen to be its cover on the issue of July 2013. Here's the full text:


Text and Photos by Edwin Antonio 

The Kapurpurawan Rock Formation cuts a striking sight in the tourist favorite Ilocos Province 

     There is much to see in the town of Burgos in my home province of Ilocos Norte, but one that is a definite must-see for visitors is the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. The road going there used to be rocky and bumpy, but now it has already been developed to accommodate the rising number of visitors coming to catch a glimpse of the picturesque white boulders. 

     Burgos is a fifth class municipality with a population of around 9,000 people. Formerly known as Nagpartian, it was renamed after the martyred Roman Catholic priest Jose Burgos who was born in Ilocos Sur. The town boasts of natural attractions such as Kapurpurawan, Tanap Avis Falls, Palpalookada, Kaangrian Falls and Digging Falls, as well as cultural treasures such as the Cape Bojeador Light House and the Gamet Festival. 

    “Kapurpurawan” literally means “brilliant white” or “whiteness,” taken from the Ilocano root word “puraw.” The rock formations come in different shapes including the iconic head, the cradle and the resting dragon. This rock formation turns even whiter during the months of April and May when sea waves are at their lowest. 


    The site was formed by a geological deposition through the process of sedimentation where minerals and organic particles settle and accumulate or it precipitates from a solution. The rocks were carved out from the surrounding sandstone by both mechanical and chemical weathering. Wind, sand and water are the primary weathering agents. As a result, it created unique rocks of different shapes and formations. 

    This is indeed a unique place to visit because it can only be seen in Ilocos Norte and nowhere else in the country. It can be likened somewhat to the majestic rock city of Petra in Jordan. However, Petra appears red rose, while Kapurpurawan looks white. It also closely resembles the Skiadi, a giant mushroom-shaped stone in Kimolos, Greece. 

     Kapurpurawan is located in the rocky coast area of Barangay Poblacion. From the national highway, it is only a short walk to the site. For a more pleasant trek, horses are available to ride to the rock formations for a P100 fee. 

    Apart from admiring the rock formation, some go fishing here. Opportunities for swimming might be limited because the place is rocky. You can also explore some caves in the area, but be sure to spring for a guide to show you around. 
     The Ilocos Norte provincial government has developed the area, and included in its “Paoay Kuamakaway” promotions. Since then, there has seen an increase in the number of tourists visiting the area. The local tourism office has restricted entry to some parts of the rock formations to deter vandalism and to protect the rocks from further erosion. Poblacion barangay captain Joegi Jimenez revealed that a number of table-like rock formations in the place were destroyed during recent typhoons. 

     The site of Kapurpurawan used to be hidden from he public, so there were few tourists who got to see it. It was not until Jimenez worked in government that the rock formation was promoted as a destination and eventually gained prominence in media. 

     The picture-perfect nature of Kapurpurawan has made it a popular setting for pre-nuptial pictorials, movies shoots and TV commercials. To maximize the beauty of the place for a good cause, the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) and the Poblacion barangay council also hold a walk for a cause every year in the area. 

     Like many destinations in the country, stories and superstitions are told from generation to generation. Old folks forbid young people to go to the place because they believe that spirits roam around the area. 

     At present, people see the rock formation as resembling a lovebird, dove or boat, and it’s still the same form since I first saw it. Indeed, it looks out of this world in many pictures. 

     This natural wonder is indeed a work of art. It is simply breathtaking. Every time I go there for a look, I feel relaxed, all the stress that I feel washed away by seeing the view of the stones and the vast ocean beyond. 


Gamet Festival 

    This celebration is a tribute to the town’s product gamet, black seaweed, which is equivalent to Japanese nori. Gamet is made from the porphyra, a kind of seaweed that grows in cold shallow water It is only found here and considered to be “black gold.” This seaweed thrives well in the coast during the moths of November to March especially when there are bigger waves. 

     During the festival, young boys and girls carry baskets of gamet through the streets of Burgos to the town plaza where they compete in a dance showdown. 

    Gamet is a healthy and nutritious food often used in many Ilocano salads, omelets, and vegetable stews. At last year’s celebration, they had a gamet cook-off where different recipes and preparations of the seaweed were showcased. 

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse 

    Another beautiful site is the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse towering at 66 feet high, you cannot fail to see it when you approach Burgos via Pasuquin. It was built in the year 1892 situated on a hill at Brgy. Paayas. 

     Climb the concrete stairs of the lighthouse to the peripheral walls and the veranda where you can get a good glimpse of the scenery. You can also go up the spiral staircase to the lantern room. 

Tanap Avis Falls 

     A visit to Burgos is not complete without seeing some of its waterfalls. A personal favorite is the Tanap Avis Falls, which was quite a journey to get to. To reach it, you have to cross a river, drive through rough roads and hike past an irrigation canal. The sight of the waterfalls is always awe-inspiring, with the deep basins of water, huge rocks and stones. You might even see fishermen catching some freshwater shrimps nearby. 

     The fresh, clean and cool water is perfect for a mid-afternoon dip, like having a natural Jacuzzi bath. It’s truly a dazzling experience!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kids on Project Photography implemented for the Aeta

Since I got the chance to implement Kids on Project Photography (KPP) to the lumad children of Southern Philippines that includes Manobo, Bagobo & Matigsalug of the Pag-amoma Children’s Place, I moved this time to cater to the indigenous kids of the Northern Philippines. This is the group of the Aeta or Ayta children of Abucay, Bataan. 

I contacted my colleague Rosalie Joy Reyes, a teacher who is also a member of the same ethnic community. She arranged my sessions and organized the kids. I launched KPP on January then regularly visited them until May then brought some of the kids in Manila to participate in an exchange program on August. 

On my very first session, I gave a lecture on basic photography under the mango trees. It was followed by their hands-on use of my DSLR camera one by one. They were amazed to manipulate a professional camera. They took turns of shooting then posing for the camera. They photograph around and then we went to the hanging bridge for a group photo. 

I held the succeeding sessions with them on a nipa hut. It served as our classroom. We shoot various subjects namely people, plants, animals, flowers and others. But they enjoy posing as models. During the Mother’s Day, I tasked them to photograph their own mother and sibling. The kids especially the boys did not regularly attend my sessions since they are tasked to go farming in the fields and have to trek for a long distance especially on weekends. Some of the girls did. 

I enjoyed going back to the Aeta community of Abucay Bataan because it is a cool and quiet place located uplands. I usually take a bus from Manila bound for Bataan. I get to alight at the main highway in Samal going to Bataan National Agricultural School (BNAS) now known as Bataan Peninsula State University (BPSU) by taking a jeepney. The Aeta community is around the campus itself. 

I plan to visit the community once in a while in the future because some of them have the eye and the potential. I had fun teaching these Aeta kids of photography.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Storytelling and Photography Workshop for Silong Tanglaw

Sometime on May, I conducted a literary art and photography workshop for the children or youth of the Silong Tanglaw Foundation, a shelter for the streetchildren. The institution is located at Araneta Avenue in Quezon City. 

The center has the objectives of forming and uplifting the life of street children through various programs and services such as providing them shelter and other basic needs, care and guidance, basic education, develop competencies and sense of responsibility and prepare them for reintegration with their family and the community.

Prior to my visit, I contacted Etang, one of the staff members and she arranged my session with the children. I was welcomed by the children who are busy then fixing the chairs when I arrived. I chatted with them for a while and they got so many stories to tell. They even asked me if I’m a seaman since Im wearing a shirt with an image of the ship Nippon Maru. 

From that question I started my storytelling session by sharing stories behind the Ship for South East Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP), an exchange program sponsored by the Cabinet Office of Japan where they invite youth of Japan, Southeast Asian countries especially the Philippines to develop friendship and mutual understanding. We cruised around South East Asia and Japan. I told them that so many youth dreams were realized in joining the program. It’s a life changing opportunity that they may also have in the future. They were amazed and got excited of the idea. 

Since I am from the Ilocos region, I shared the famous epic Biag ni Lam-ang. It is an oral tradition from the Ilocano community. Lam-ang is an extraordinary being who can speak in his early years eventually chosing his own name. Just right after every story I share, I raised questions and got answered by them. For every correct and first to raise answer was a souvenir item to grab such as cap, pen, keychain as prizes. They were so delighted with the question and answer. 

For the kids’ participation, I brought copies of children's poems for them to recite. These poems depict mothers love. It was our way to celebrate Mother's Day. Apart from this they also rendered songs during the program. At the latter portion of the session I was joined by Baibon Sangid a friend from National Youth Commission who is also an alumna of SSEAYP.

Last part of the workshop was the launch of Kids on Project Photography. We started the session with a short lecture on photography and the basic parts of a camera. Then one by one did a hands-on shoot with my DSLR cam. They just explored another visual art form that is photography. Just right before we close the workshop, I am deeply touched to receive a thank you card from the Silong Tanglaw children, their very own artwork with a heartfelt message of appreciation inside. Truly, it’s another great rewarding experience!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Care for Children Project at the Missionaries of Charity

On one weekend of April, I arranged a visit to the Missionaries of Charity Alay ng Puso at 683 Delpan San Nicolas St. Binondo Manila. I went to Manila where I invited friends and alumni of SSEAYP. Fortunately, I was joined by a couple from batch 2012 namely Raine Alerta and Joejoe Fresnoza. Both were amazed to spend their weekend with the less fortunate kids of the center. According to them, it was a rewarding activity that they would like to do it more in the future. 

Prior to our visit to the center, I have to call up the institution for confirmation of our volunteering. I was able to talk on the phone to a Bangladeshi nun and gave some instructions. We took our way going to the said institution via Sta Cruz Church. We took a jeepney and tricyle passing by slum areas but when we got out we were surprised to learn that it’s just close by the Intramuros. 

There were around 30 children residents that we saw at the center composed mainly of toddlers and babies. They were either orphaned or abandoned. We helped the nuns and staff in the feeding of these kids. I contributed some food for them. The kids were so lovable and adorable. We played with them and everyone wants to be hugged and be held. We played until they were sponge bathed and changed clothes and helped them put to sleep. 

After our activity with the children, I saw surprisingly Sister Gloriosa, Korean nun whom I met and contacted at the Missionaries of Charity in Tayuman branch to which I also volunteered for a couple of times. It was another fulfilling experience to be sharing time with these little angels and hoping to come back soon and encourage some more friends and other people to get involve in this activity.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Ethnolinguistic Groups of Laos

During my participation in the SSEAYP International General Assembly in Vientiane, I had the chance to have an encounter with the various ethnolinguistic groups of people of Laos. They conducted cultural presentations in several occassions during my stay. They did entertaining and colorful performances. 

Laos has a population of around 6,700,000 and it is the most ethnically diverse country in mainland Southeast Asia. One third of its population comprises the ethnic Lao dominating the country culturally and economically. It has a total of 160 ethnic groups that speak a total of 82 distinct living languages. They have 49 main ethnicities. They used the term ethnic minorities to refer to non-Lao ethnic groups and the term indigenous peoples is not being used in the country. 

The main groups are called Mon-Khmer, Palaungic, Khmuic, Tibeto-Burman, Hmong-Mien and Tai and Rau. The groups Mon-Khmer, Sino-Tibetan and Hmong-Iu Mien families are considered to be the indigenous peoples of Laos although officially all groups have equal status. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lao Textile: A Representation of a Rich Cultural Heritage

During the SSEAYP International General Assembly in Vientiane, we had the opportunity of visiting the Lao Textile Museum located at the Nongthatai Village. I have asked the local participants which of the institutions to be visited would be the best place to see and the said museum was highly recommended. 

This is considered the center of Lao culture as it exhibits Lao architecture house style and exposition of ancient handmade silk textiles. The weaving tools were on display and traditional methods of textiles coloring with natural color from leaves and fruits were demonstrated. The museum does activities like coloring and dyeing of cotton scarves, and experiencing the real weaving tools being used. It is founded by Mr. Sisane in 1998 and it’s a part of the Lao-Japan Traditional Cultural Education Center.

Just outside the place, one can notice traditional house and its design. When we entered, I had seen several floor looms displayed at the lower ground. Weavers were there to demonstrate to us their work. They showed us the raw materials used then the textiles as output. They were all colorful and came in varied designs. The designs are reflection of the Laotian culture. 

The very basic weaving technique is called tam sat thammada. It literally means weaving by regularly passing shuttles through the weft. The same color of thread is being used in the warp and the weft however, some would prefer different colours. If alternate colors are used in the warp yarn then the color pattern would be seen lengthwise in the entire fabric whereas if alternate colors for weft yarn it becomes widthwise. If both warp and weft yarns used different colors then a checked pattern would be achieved. 

Some of the designs are the traditional Hmong handicraft design that features bags, scarves cushions and more. There was organza silk work. These silk pieces draw their inspiration from traditional wedding blankets. Some of the designs even date back to early 20th Century. The most prevalent designs are the nagas which appear in many many forms and has its origins in both Buddhist and animist tradition. The naga is the gigantic mythical serpent that lives in the Mekong river which is inseparably intertwined with the livelihood of the Lao people. 

The ardous task of dyeing of the thread was also demonstrated to us. Several dozens of earthened or clay jars were present in the area which they use in the fermentation process for a period of several weeks. The dye appeared green but when mixed it turned into deep bright blue. Dried fruit peels, grasses, coconut shells and other materials were identified as ingredients to the process. They also use the indigo plant which is grown on the grounds.