(From left) Community leader Jon Melegrito, artist and musician Waway Linsahay Saway, Sentro Rizal administrator and public diplomacy officer Darell Artates and Tanghalang Pilipino Washington DC’s Yvonne Reyes after the program.
Celebrating our cultural heritage
THIS WEEK ON PEOPLEASIA - Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) - June 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Preserving our cultural heritage helps us to understand our roots better and uphold our integrity as Filipinos. This is why it is important for Filipinos — wherever they may be — to celebrate National Heritage Month, which happens every May.

This year, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the institution tasked to formulate and implement policies and programs pertaining to culture and the arts, adopted the theme “Mga Pinuno Para sa Pamana” (Leaders for Heritage) to challenge every Filipino to take the lead in preserving and promoting our cultural heritage.

Saway demonstrates the use of a two-stringed, lute-style musical instrument called the kudlong.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., through the Sentro Rizal Washington DC and Tanghalang Pilipino Washington DC, capped the celebration of National Heritage Month by presenting the indigenous music of Rodelio “Waway” Linsahay Saway, an artist and musician from the Talaandig tribe of Bukidnon in Mindanao.

Waway, who co-founded the Talaandig School of Living Traditions, has performed in many parts of the world, promoting indigenous music. His collaborative work with the Grammy-nominated Deoro chamber duo of cellist Dave Eggar and percussionist Chuck Palmer, which was featured in a concert titled The Brooklyn-Manila Project held at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York in May 2013, captivated audiences.

Saway introduced his tribe and the Talaandig Tribe Band as custodians of the Kitanglad Rainforest in Bukidnon to the guests.

No surprise therefore that he wowed and fascinated the audience at the Chancery Annex of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. Waway demonstrated the use of a two-stringed, lute-style musical instrument called the kudlong in playing indigenous music for courtship and lullabies. He also did a set of indigenous musical presentations, and introduced his tribe and the Taalandig Tribe Band as custodians of the Kitanglad Rainforest in Bukidnon through a video presentation.

Everything that indigenous people need for their survival is provided by nature, he stressed, sharing why taking care of our rainforests is important. “When the forest is destroyed, the inspiration of indigenous music is also destroyed,” he added.

One of the most engaging parts was when the Mindanao musician conducted an interactive demonstration of the musical instrument called the kubing, a type of Philippine jaw harp made from a hand-carved piece of bamboo, and invited the audience to perform with him using their own kubings.

Displayed at the event are indigenous musical instruments Sarunay (a Philippine metallophone of the Maguindanaon people), Tongali (a Kalinga nose flute) and Paldong (a Kalinga lip-valley flute).

 Sentro Rizal administrator and public diplomacy officer Darell Artates also encouraged the members of the audience to “take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Filipino artists, the artisans, the cultural workers, and the indigenous communities in the Philippines for strengthening the fabric of Filipino society. Their contributions to the progress of our nation are priceless and should always be remembered,” she said. 

Helping coordinate and ensure the success of the event were Tanghalang Pilipino Washington DC’s Yvonne Reyes and community leader Jon Melegrito, who also served as the emcee during the program.

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