Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Colors, Fun and Flavors of Calinog’s Indigenous People

a lady's top with colorful tubok patterns, photo by JV Perez (PALI)

The Philippines is a country of diversity. And the same is true of her people. Ours is an ethnically diverse country. Our cultural and ethnic fabric is woven with other foreign ethnic groups that have each contributed to the tapestry that is Philippines.

From the mysterious origins and fates of her earliest inhabitants; the current indigenous peoples; to the history and influence of immigrants from other areas of the world, our country has developed an intricate and fascinating society.

Our country’s topography has played a significant role in giving rise to its amazing cultural diversity. Because individual towns and tribal groups lived in isolation from each other for long periods of time, the subsequent seclusion allowed ethno-linguistic groups to maintain their individual languages, customs and ancestral traditions intact well into the colonial era and, to some extent, to the present day.

Throughout pre-Hispanic Iloilo lived indigenous groups scattered across mountains. And this led the each geographical unit or group to develop its own language and culture. This is a key to understanding our unique and fascinating diversity.

The delicate balance of power that existed between these aboriginal states was forever altered when Spanish soldiers made their way into our land. The Spanish conquistadores encountered indigenous groups speaking of languages, worshipping gods, and practicing a multitude of cultures.

Settlers of Panay had already established themselves there. As the migrants kept coming, the tribes who originally inhabited the area were driven inland toward the rugged and mountainous territory. They were eventually called Bukidnons, meaning "people of the mountains.”

The Panay Bukidnon is a group of indigenous people living in the highlands of Tapaz in the province of Capiz and Calinog in Iloilo. The municipality of Calinog provides some 30-hectare of land on its mountainous village and is protected since it is inhabited by this indigenous group.

a Panay-Bukidnon from Calinog chanting
According to Maria Christine Muyco, Assistant Professor at the College of Music, University of the Philippines and grantee on of Creative and Research Scholarship Fund of the University of the Philippines System on the culture and history of the Panay Bukidnons have been there even before the Spanish Cross of Ferdinand Magellan reached the archipelago. They are known for their rich culture of music and dance, particularly the tradition of singing epics commonly based on the adventures of mythological heroes and heroines and has been kept alive from this day by young girls trained to be oral historians, the "binukot.” It is said that the binukot is the fairest and most intelligent daughter in the entire community chosen by her parents and siblings to learn special skills.

The municipality of Calinog celebrates the history of its founding people with the conduct of the Indigenous People’s Month on October 28, 2011 at 7 a.m. till 4 p.m. With the theme; “Ang Duna nga Kultura Aton e-Preserba,” various activities will be held starting with the Registration of participants at 7 -8 a.m.; Parade and Orientation at 8-9 a.m.; Program with contests in Cuisine, Panubok and Weaving at 9-12 nn; Pahampang of indigenous games at 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Through the conduct of this activity, the Panay Bukidnons are given the opportunity to assert their cultural identity some particular set of societal issues and concerns may be voiced which either arise from (at least in part), or have a particular dimension associated with, their indigenous status..

The celebration calls on the public to recognize the living culture of the Panay Bukudnons and to respect and preserve their identity. To understand them, one must understand their culture, their history and contributions to what Iloilo is of today.

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