Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Huning Lumad featuring Waway Linsahay Saway

Maria Eleanor E. Valeros - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - It is Datu Waway Saway's vision to teach all people how to appreciate Nature's beauty because according to him, it is only when we find beauty in Nature that we start respecting and protecting it.

Rodelio "Waway" Linsahay Saway of the Talaandig tribe, one of seven indigenous peoples communities thriving on the Kitanglad/Dulang-dulang Mountain Ranges in Bukidnon, was here last October 26-29 for the "Huning Lumad" (An Art Exhibit and Series of Workshops and Performance) at the Jose R. Gullas Halad Museum in line with the observance of October as National Indigenous Peoples' Month, and supported by Mission Cebu, University of the Visayas, Talaandig Indigenous Community Artists, Likhang Lahi, and The FREEMAN.

Indigenous art in the Talaandig community in its present form was built through the efforts of Datu Waway. In the early 90s, he left his studies to pursue a musical career. His experiences as a journeyman musician made him realize the need for young IPs (indigenous peoples) to rediscover their traditional culture - something that is slowly becoming unfamiliar to them as they gravitate to the city in search for economic stability and a more comfortable modern living.

The FREEMAN: Thank you for bringing your tribal wisdom to Cebu. We surely have to relearn our culture because we are living more of Magellan's culture (shame on us!) and not of Lapu-Lapu's culture.

Waway Linsahay Saway (WLS): We also thank Cebu for expressing warmth and appreciation to this activity. Certainly there is much to learn and we have to thank the Magbabaya (the Lord) that we have this beautiful gift in painting we can share to others. We actually have nothing in this world. We owe everything to the Magbabaya. So kay mitugot man ang kalibotan nga ni-a pa ta hangtod karon, let's give it our all!

TF: So aside from sharing your music, you will be reconnecting us to our roots - the earth - through this lecture/workshop.

WLS: I am with the soil painters of the Talaandig Indigenous Community Artists group (Rodelio "RJ Sumingsang" Saway Jr.; Marcelino "Balugto" Necosia, Jr.; Raul Bendit, Salima Saway Agra-an, Gerald Saway, Onanoy Saway Estrada, Nino Dave "Chong" Tecson, Soliman Poonon, Christian Cloyd "Epoy" Eslao, and Nympha Bendit). As soil artists, we utilize what is present in our surroundings - soil and other organic materials - to express ideas in the most creative manner possible. By seeing out land and Nature through new lens, our thoughts can reach more people, and hopefully encourage love of Nature and love of culture in all of us. We take patterns from the world in general so we can't actually claim one pattern makes us distinct. This proves to show we share in the world as a whole - we take inspiration from one sun, the stars, the leaves, the mountains, the rivers.

TF: I'm just curious, if it's only earth, what makes the paintings appear to be glossy?

WLS: No, it's not totally soil. We use water, glue, and acrylic emulsion. Artworks come in the colors of the earth - browns, reds and grays of the soil - soothing tones that express our tribe's life, beliefs, practices and close affinity with the land.

TF: Seems to me that you have adapted well to technology and the changing times?

WLS: Despite our tribal orientation, we need to evolve too. We need to keep up with social media, the many platforms of passing on information. We go to school. We are exposed to technological advancements. We get to interact with various people, different races outside our village. We get to travel even out of the country. It was very much different in the past. Our forebears get to travel from home within a 20-km radius only because it was difficult to leave to as far as 500 kilometers. There weren't good roads yet, so it was hard to move very far from the mountainous region. They don't have mobile phones, they relied on oral tradition. Given the dynamics nga walay influence sa pamolitika outside, they stayed intact.

TF: So what do we need to understand about the Talaandigs of today? I mean, the general impression is that tribespeople are aloof and would want to work within themselves to preserve their culture.

WLS: It doesn't work that way anymore. We can even marry somebody out of our tribe. My wife is from Talibon, Bohol. We are exposed to the world, our children know hip-hop; we work with computers and cell phones.

TF: Do some of your paintings serve as expression of protest to issues like discrimination/profiling and ancestral domain/ancestral claims?

WLS: In a way, because we still face such concerns today. But on top of the struggle is to keep up with our goal: that is to promote our school of living tradition. We are one of a few IP communities that have successfully preserved our traditional culture and beliefs amid the influx of modernity and change. We've learned to balance our being lumads side by side with the other various influences around us.

TF: Of the songs you've composed, what is it you would want us to listen to over and over again? (His music group is "Waway Saway ug ang Kadugo").

WLS: Tulay. I have 10 albums of tribal music, but it's the one I like most. I took inspiration from my roots: A line reads "huwag nating kalimutan na tayo'y mga Talaandig."

TF: What song of another artist would you recommend to us?

WLS: Kinsa ba? (pauses) Ay! Kang Popong Landero (Ronulfo Landero of Ang Bagong Lumad is from Davao and is a roots/reggae musician). Kadtong "Mga Panginoon." (Sings) Panginoon ng bagong digmaan// pakinggan ang mga batang umiiyak// takot sila sa mga nangyayari// Ang bagong salinlahi ay balot ng kalituhan//.

TF: Have you been in that situation, ever? Being confused about your roots?

WLS: Yes! When I was younger, I used to listen to pop music over the radio. I would play on guitar the songs I'm fond of listening to. However, when I began to mingle with other musicians I found out they take pride in tribal music; they were playing a bit of katyapi, a bit of kubing, a bit of the rainmaker, and then that opened me to embrace again what is my true identity, my heritage. Kay ako nuon nga lumad, wala nako ginapansin ang tambul, ang katyapi, ang dayuday, kubing, tambuleleng, kokak. I realized that because I was growing with the gold, I never get to love it till I learned about the silver and the bronze. After na lang ko nakasabot nga  I am living in a culture of gold.

TF: Where would you be after this workshop?

WLS: My group will take part in an anti-plastic enterprise. Because we are soil painters, we would want to produce toys using sustainable and organic materials like bamboo. Pwede next year ang book project (a compilation of soil paintings). We will also play front act to Sting (Gordon Sumner in real life, ex-main man of 80s Grammy Award winner British rock band "Police") for his Asian tour in Manila by December. And hopefully after my trip in Penang, I get to converge again with world music artists because when I join a global gathering of artists I don't only represent myself as a Talaandig, I bring with me the culture of Lapu-Lapu. I get to collaborate with other Filipino artists like Grace Nono and Bayang Barrios.

TF: How do you say "thank you very much" in your own tongue?

WLS: In our language, the Binukid or Inukit, we say "Madakul nga salamat."

TF: Madakul nga salamat, Sir for your time! Oh, it sounds close to how my Ilocano roots (from Abra) say it. Dakel in Ilocano means dako (big/huge).

WLS: See, we share so much in many things and many ways. We've just been broken apart by the culture of Magellan!  (FREEMAN)

vuukle comment










  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with