Waway’s way: Inspiring tribal artists and craftsmen

The first workshop lasted for two weeks in June, at the Mt. Kitanglad Cultural Heritage Center in Olanguhon, a village southwest of Dalwangan inhabited by a few families belonging to the Bukidnon tribe. Waway focused his clinic on improving the designs of clay jewelry and etching of bamboo musical instruments. A combination of 40 elders, youth and children joined the various activities.

The Philippine Global Exchange, through its executive director Vim Santos, funded the first workshop. Vim visited the Kitanglad heritage center ahead of the workshop and initially met with some tribal folks who were also waiting for their art teacher to come. Her sister Pangging went with her for the primary purpose of celebrating her birthday in and with the community.

For the first time, Waway introduced soil color painting of which the ultimate output was a 3-meter long mural painting depicting the history and cultural symbols of the Bukidnon tribe. This piece of work now proudly hangs inside the heritage center. Meantime, to contain the enthusiastic kids and to prevent them from messing up with their older counterparts, Waway distributed sketchpads and taught them simple drawing techniques. Whenever boredom set in, he would grab his guitar and strum to the tune of familiar Binukid songs which he has popularized through CDs. Group singing is a popular break in between tribal chores.

Two months later, as more opportunities opened for indigenous artists, Waway conducted another week-long creative arts workshop with 10 select students, a mix of elders and youth. Each of the students produced high quality clay jewelries and soil paintings which qualified for art exhibitions. Some of these artworks will be brought to Davao City and Tagum City for upcoming art events.

The Kitanglad Integrated NGOs and Oxfam-Hong Kong provided support for the workshop which they hope will provide the youth with skills and tools to help them succeed in their art endeavors and, as source of income, contribute to their future and welfare.

Waway’s commitment to popularize indigenous arts in Mindanao has raised hopes and skills of many tribal as well as non-tribal youngsters. Together with his artist friends, he has taught the wards of Bantay Bata, Camiguinons, Boracaynons and graders in Malaybalay City. His first batch of students, the Talaandig youth, are now recognized multi-medium artists who have equally excelled in music and painting. Four of them in fact are finishing their contributions for a competition sponsored by a cigarette company.