MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/02 March)- Contingents from six towns and two cities competed in the Kaamulan 2013 street dancing competition Saturday morning featuring performances that a provincial official of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) described as “close to authentic.”
“If the dances were performed by the Lumads themselves, then it becomes “authentic,” said Carl Binayao, NCIP-Bukidnon community affairs officer.
He noted that each contingent was given Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) by the tribal councils in their respective areas after going through a validation process held last month.
Binayao said the tribal councils checked the storyline, colors, costumes, steps, music, symbols, and other elements projected in the dance presentation.
He stressed that this is the second year that the street dancing contingents were given an FPIC by the tribes involving cultural matters of the dance presentations.
Binayao said the process even included meeting the judges of the street dancing competition to explain and clarify to them certain aspects.
“It was clarified that the judges should no longer concern themselves with the authenticity of the elements of the dances. They just have to check for accuracy and performance based on the story line presented,” he added.
Loreta Sol Dinlayan, in-charge of the Bukidnon State University Ethno-Cultural Museum, said the presentations were rich in content across the eight contingents.
“The presentations were full of Bukidnon symbols and cultural elements that depict the life of the indigenous peoples in the province,” she said.
Dinlayan, an instructor of social sciences at BSU, cited the “balsa” or “gakit” (raft), which the Lumads used for transportation along the rivers in the province; kilala leaves used in the ritual and cultural events; “karang” or bamboo walkers used by the Lumad to walk across deep rivers; and “bakag” or big baskets used during harvest seasons.
The presentations also featured “bangkasu” or altars used by the Lumads in the their spiritual rites; the “bangkakaw,” a traditional tool used for fishing along with the “tundok” or a fishing rod with fork.
Another common symbol featured in the contingents’ presentations include the display of medicinal herbs.
“In a deeper sense, the herbs are also used to heal social problems, because if you heal the body, the person’s mind will also be healed,” Dinlayan said.
She said the presentations this year were generally better compared to last year.
Joe-An Bayona Henderin, Bukidnon provincial tourism officer, said they have opted to include the NCIP in the process of preparation for the street dancing competition to avoid problems and criticisms about the alleged exploitation of the Lumads in a commercialized festival.
“Every Kaamulan, we feared that we will exacerbate the misconceptions,” she added.
Bayona said the consent given to the contingents by the tribal councils are limited only to their performance during Kaamulan 2013.
“They have to seek another consent if they want to perform in other places,” she added.
The contingent from the Municipality of Pangantucan presented the Talaandig and Manobo tribes using the flood story, which tells the story of their origin as a people.
The Talakag contingent presented the Talaandig and Higanon tribes. Among the themes presented were the Tampuda Hu Balagen Ta Pusod Hu Dagat, a peace pact that took place in Tikalaan, now part of modern day Talakag town.
The Dangcagan town’s contingent featured the Manobo Pulangihon tribe . Their presentation depicted “Bawian te Baylan,” a dance ritual offered to Magbabaya (God) for the healing of a lady inflicted with a disease by a bad spirit.
Golden Harvest is the theme of the contingent from Valencia City. Among those they featured were rituals known as panlisig and pamalas to drive away spirits or bad omen in preparation for rice and corn planting.
The contingent from Damulog town featured the Manobo Donggoanon tribe and their culture and economy along the Pulangi River.
The Kitaotao contingent featured the Manobo and Matigsalug tribes’ thanksgiving dances after they fought Aragasi, a man-eating giant who killed a woman.
Aspects of traditional life of the Manobo tribe including rituals, dances, songs, and rhythms were the focus of the contingent from Don Carlos town. They also featured the legend behind the town’s famous tourist attraction, the Pinamaloy Lake.
The 2012 street dancing competition winner, the contingent from Malaybalay City, featured the Healing of Lagongluy, a dance theater narrative depicting life in Nakakulob and the relation between men in different tribes, nature, and gods. Among the aspects presented include thanksgiving and offertory dances.
The street dancing competition, which was allotted P1 million out of the P7 million festival budget, is the major highlight of the annual Kaamulan, a festival dedicated to the province’s seven hill tribes.
Winners of the competition were to be named later in the day. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)