Davao Museum showcases old Maguindanao photos in exhibit

The 30-panel “A Photo Exhibit of the Inundated Plain (Maguindanao)” contains records of the lives and lifestyle of datus and their families. The photos were taken from 1902 to 1906 by U.S. Army Medical Corps Captain Dr. William R. Eastman Sr., who became interested in Maguindanao royalties’ keen sense of style as seen through their intricately designed clothing and accessories, as well as their strong sense of dignity.

Former Rep. Michael Mastura, a descendant of one of the featured sultans in the exhibit, and his wife Lourdes reproduced the photos from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

The exhibit is part of the annual Filipino Heritage Month. Its mounting is spearheaded by the cultural advocacy group Filipino Heritage Festival in cooperation with the Department of Tourism, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Southern Philippines Tourism Council / BIMP-EAGA Tourism Council, and the Davao Museum.

Among the photos included are those of Sultan Mastura Kudarat, who prevented Spanish domination over Mindanao by initiating a confederation of datus; Datu Uto, a well-respected leader who practiced skillful political organization and diplomacy to save Muslim areas in Mindanao from Spanish colonization; and Datu Piang, a Chinese mestizo who attacked the remaining Spanish garrisons in Mindanao.

Aside from the sultans and the datus, also featured in the photos were weavers who made kulambó (mosquito net), balod (bed cover), malong, and men’s outfits.

“The exhibit seeks to create consciousness among the people of the rich Bangsa Moro culture, its relevance to the country’s history and heritage and the need to preserve it,” said Lourdes Mastura, board member of the Filipino Heritage Festival.

She will hold an interactive lecture on the changes in Bangsa Moro culture in the turn of the century and other relevant topics.

Traditional Bangsa Moro arts and crafts will also be showcased in the three-week exhibit. The arts and crafts which are heirlooms by Maranao royalty from Marawi will complement the photos.

The Bangsa Moro exhibit was first mounted in 2007 at the Podium in Ortigas. Mrs. Mastura hopes that more cities and provinces will host the exhibit after the Davao event.

Major sponsors who made the month-long heritage festivities possible are Air Philippines, Philippine Airlines, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Security Bank, and Tanduay Distillers, Inc.

For more information on the National Heritage Month and the Bangsa Moro exhibit, you may visit the FHF website at http://filheritagefest.fateback.com; or contact Konkordans, Inc. at 221-5674 loc 101, 300-6730 and konkordans@gmail.com; and the Davao Museum Information Desk at 233-1734. (MindaNews)