Native creativity against crisis

A Mag-antsi Ayta hunter.

During disasters and other crises, indigenous cultural communities are among the most neglected and marginalized sectors, which is most apparent amid the pandemic.

“But they are also one of the most resilient sectors. Having conquered many challenges, they have harnessed tools and practices that enable them to persevere and even triumph over adversities.

Isnag cultural master Elorde Alonzo from Pudtol, Apayao.

And their cultural heritage and creativity are very important factors in coming up with mechanisms to cope with the current crisis,” said Nestor T. Horfilla, theater veteran and award-winning cultural worker.

Horfilla is the project director of Dayaw 2021: The Philippine Indigenous Peoples’ Festival, mounted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) for National Indigenous Peoples Month.

A T’boli musician playing a set of gongs.

“Ang buwan ng Oktubre ay naideklara bilang Pambansang Buwan ng Katutubong Filipino ayon sa bisa ng Presidential Proclamation 1906 s. 2009. Ang ating Konstitusyon ay nagpapahalaga sa mga karapatan ng mga katutubong Filipino at hangad nito ang proteksyun para sa lahat at para malinang ang kanilang kultura at mga tradisyon para sa pambansang pagkakaisa at pag-unlad (The month of October was declared National Indigenous Peoples Month by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 1906 s. 2009. Our Constitution gives importance to the rights of indigenous Filipinos and aims to protect everyone and develop their cultures and traditions for national unity and progress),” explained Dr. Edwin Antonio, head of the NCCA National Committee on Northern Cultural Communities and secretary of the Subcommission on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts (SCCTA), which spearheads Dayaw festival.

“Ang Dayaw ay ang taunang pagdiriwang… Isa po itong pagtitipon at pagsalo-salo ng mga katutubong Filipino mula Luzon, Visayas at Mindanao na nagtatanghal at nagtatampok ng mga katutubong sayaw, musika, mga kuwento, pagkain, laro, likhang sining at marami pang iba. Ang pakay nito ay para maibahagi at maituro sa publiko ang kanilang katutubong kaalaman para makatulong sa atin at ating higit na maunawaan ang kanilang kultura at tradisyon (Dayaw is an annual celebration… It is a gathering of indigenous Filipinos from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao who showcase their native dances, musics, stories, foods, games, art works and many others. Its aim is to share to and to teach the public about their indigenous knowledge to help us and more importantly for us to be able to understand their cultures and traditions),” he added.

The Mag-antsi Ayta of Bataan.

Because of the pandemic, the festival, which has been showcasing the cultural diversity and the creativity of the different ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines for more than a decade now, is in virtual format for the second time, with several episodes to be streamed on social media platforms.

Also in celebration of the Year of Filipino Pre-Colonial Ancestors, Dayaw 2021’s theme, “Katutubong Filipino: Atin Ang Tagumpay!” (Indigenous Filipinos: Victory is Ours!) expresses a thrust towards a positive tone and aims to project an overall optimistic outlook, underscoring the resilience of cultural communities as well as the fact that they and their cultures endure despite challenges.

Young T’boli women performing a traditional dance. / Photographs courtesy of the NCCA

SCCTA vice head and head of the National Committee on Central Cultural Communities Pablito Gonzales related that indigenous communities, particularly in central Philippines, are also very affected by the pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic, which started in 2020, has affected the indigenous communities. Members of the Ati community could not do ranso, sell traditional medicines, get materials for weaving, work in the sugar cane plantations and other jobs outside of their territory due to the Covid-19 restrictions,” he said in local language.

The Ga’dang of Paracelis, Mountain Province.

“The School of Living Traditions in Negros Occidental stopped operations for two months. An Ati family of six who went out for ranso got trapped beside a river in Kabankalan City and could not go home to Marikudo due to the prevailing health conditions. Worse, a three-year old child of one family died due to their situation.”

“The Ituman-Maghat Bukignon were alarmed and could not go to their respective farms to work and gather provisions due to the imposed restrictions,” he added. “In the case that they were able to harvest their products, they were not able to sell this to the town market due to the Covid-19 restrictions and protocols that need to be followed.”

But these communities still found ways to continue many elements of their traditions, according to Gonzales.

The Meranaw of Marawi City play the kasipa.

This resolve to maintain their traditional ways and stories of adaptation and fortitude are featured in episodes of the Dayaw 2021 virtual program, which specifically tackle spirituality and well-being; indigenous learning systems; young entrepreneurs; protection and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage; and responses to the impacts of climate change and disasters.

Dayaw opened with “Pagpapasinaya sa Tagumpay: The Dayaw Opening Ceremony” on 9 October, and this will followed by “Dayaw sa Sebangan: The Southern Cultural Communities” on 24 October, “Dayaw Sito Lubbon na Unnot: The Northern Cultural Communities” on 29 October, “Dayaw sa Butnga: The Central Cultural Communities” on 30 October and “Pinagtagumpayan: The Dayaw Closing Ceremony” on 31 October.

A group of Pala’wan at the Sabsaban Falls, a scared place for them, in Brooke’s Point, Palawan.

“Dayaw 2021 will feature and examine the intersections of crisis and creativity, and hopefully we as nation can mine old lessons to heal modern afflictions,” Horfilla emphasized.

Credit belongs to :

Check Also

Letrang Norte showcases winning form with ‘Kalma’

After bagging the top prize in this year’s Kanto Canta songwriting festival initiated by the …

error: Content is protected !!