Ethnic dances outshine others in Malaybalay village fest

Kagbasukan, a collection of dance stories of farming, courtship, bravery and other facets of the life of Lumads, depicts the customs and traditions of the Bukidnon tribe in Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park.

Daraghuyan agong and bantula (bamboo percussion) performers led a civic parade to mark the start of the celebration, setting a festive mood in this otherwise sleepy village.

Barangay Captain Esperanza Martinez said that for the first time, the barangay government coordinated with the tribal community in the village for their active participation in the annual celebration.

Martinez told MindaNews it was the first time that cultural performers took center stage on their foundation day, adding it will become a regular feature in the celebration.

The Daraghuyan performers are young members of the Bukidnon tribe, which lays claim over a portion of the Mt. Kitanglad Range, a protected area.

Daraghuyan is the name of one of the peaks in the mountain range which the tribe considers sacred.

The members of the performing group are also students of the Inhandig Tribal School, according to their mentor Bae Inatlawan Adelina Docenos-Tarino, Bukidnon tribal chieftain and baylan (spiritual leader).

She said they have won in competitions among cultural performers in the province.

She told MindaNews  she organized the group to “to awaken them to our culture.”

In the school, students are taught about traditional dances such as dugso, inagung, inagaw (courtship dance), binanug (hawk dance).

She said even if the supposedly ethnic-inspired Kaamulan festival has become popular, it still does not respond to the needs of indigenous peoples in the province to preserve their culture.

"Oftentimes, the genuine Lumads are pushed to the sidelines when the organizers give more attention to the local governments, instead of directly involving the tribal communities," she said.

Tarino, who heads the tribe's ancestral domain claim, said they were grateful to barangay officials even if they were given only a slot in the program.

"It's the first time we were given this chance to showcase our performances," she noted.

Mary Jean, 15, one of the performers of a modern dance in the program said she is interested in learning the ethnic dances even if she is not a Lumad.

"But the modern dances are very attractive to us young people," she said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)