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‘More resilient’ artists gather at 13th Tam-awan Int’l Arts Festival

MANILA, Philippines — The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) celebrated Tam-awan Village's 13th International Arts Festival in Baguio City.

This year's theme, "Ajowanan Kaugarian," speaks of how the village has taken care of practices passed down through the ages by Cordilleran ancestors.

After 12 festivals, the Tam-awan International Arts Festival has endured and has been adopted as an NCCA special project under the Committee on Arts and Galleries.

"We are also celebrating our 25th year of nurturing the culture and the arts, and our community that's part of the Cordilleran heritage. Tam-awan Village focuses on Ibaloi culture and traditions. Our dances and rituals are still seen and appreciated by younger generations," shared Jordan Mang-osan, president of Chanum Foundation, the entity that runs and operates Tam-awan Village.

The month of October is Museum & Galleries Month and the National Indigenous Peoples (IP) Month pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 1906 signed in 2009 wherein the Constitution mandates the “recognition and protection of the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/ Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs).”

"We are more flexible, more creative and more resilient after the pandemic. We came back more resounding. The Philippine Creative Industries Development Act (PCIDA) has given value to all disciplines in the arts and culture banner with the nine domains under the Department of Trade and Industry as lead agency," said NCCA executive director Oscar Casaysay during an open forum at the Ugnayan Gallery grounds.

Gathering of like minds

The lecture-workshops on dance were the most participated during the four-day festival held last October 6 to 10. Aside from the cañao, which is the Ifugao wedding dance ritual, dances from Mindanao were also eagerly welcomed. For instance, the Pangalay, a dance ritual from the Tausug tribe of Zamboanga, was presented by combining traditional steps with Latin dances as homage to Zamboanga's Castilian influence.

"The dissemination and conservation of culture and the arts is an annual celebration, being a national evolution of our identity — how we are doing now and how there's so much more to do. After staring at mortality, we have an increased cultural awareness.

"There's happier energy on cultural expressions whether ephemeral or long-lasting, especially na may pinagdadaanan tayo. Sometimes loss is on not remembering," said Trixie Cruz Angeles, NCCA's legal counsel.

Cordilleran weaves can be incorporated into everyday pieces

Bul-uls or carved wooden figures

Cordilleran weaves
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With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), the debates that tackle AI and human art continue.

"Art as an expression is human. AI programming is not yet perfected. There's still a human hand/mind behind it. So, it is not art unless it's human; though we need to prepare for AI's inherent dangers. Artists need to control AI. With the discussion now out in the open, you cannot put the genie back into the bottle," added Cruz-Angeles.

The Tam-awan International Arts Festival started in 2010. It has evolved into an artist-led platform, attracting 116 art groups and 400 artists from all over the archipelago. From a simple community celebration, the festival has become a country-wide campaign that has sparked the interest of art communities here and outside the country.

"Our workshops in years past had snakes and monitor lizards as surprise guests. Yet, this festival thrived as the watering hole of artists and budding cultural workers. My challenge as teacher/author is how to weave narratives to chronicle these experiences," shared panelist E.J. Jacinto from the Philippine Art Educators Association (PAEA).

The PAEA group performed the "Pambungad na Ritwal: Saniweng – Aweng Ti Kararwa" (Oneness of Soul in Rhythm), which aimed to enjoin musical collaborations.

Chanum Foundation Incorporated was set up in 1998 by friends, Jordan Mang-osan, Jackson Bryan, Ann Camdas Michael, Dra. Julie Cabato, Chit Asignacion and Bencab, who was conferred the National Artist for Visual Arts (Painting) in 2006. It has evolved to become the hub for culture and heritage, as well as a top tourist destination in the City of Pines.

RELATED: 12th Tam-Awan International Arts Festival highlights artists' rights, protection

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