MINDANDAO 2015: Arts and culture: From Mindanao to the world


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 Dec) – The showcase of Mindanawon artistry and creativity extended from local initiatives to international projects. Each defined the collective vision of the thriving community that has so much story to tell and pictures to paint.

Children’s books

All of the McDonald’s Happy Meals in the United States last January came with a children’s book instead of a toy. This was a result of McDonald’s collaboration with Reading is Fundamental (a children’s literacy organization in the US) and HarperCollins Children’s Books. Their project distributed an estimated 17 million books to families in the US.

One of these books is illustrated by Davaoeno artist Macky Pamintuan, who himself believes that giving books to children is a good idea, and that family reading time is an equally good habit to create.

Macky is the illustrator of the Flat Stanley children’s book series by Jeff Brown. “Flat Stanley Goes Camping” was one of the books included in this McDonald’s Happy Meal project. Macky has a BFA in Illustration from San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. He has illustrated for books by publishing giants like HarperCollins, Scholastic, Sterling publishing, Random House, McGraw-Hill, and Peaceable Kingdom Press, among others.

Independent publications

Writers, poets, and independent publishers alike animated Sales Tekanplor last February for the seventh BLTX (Better Living through Xeroxography), a small press expo that showcased works of Davao artists—from small magazines and books, to handcrafted artworks and notecards.

“All of the copies were sold out,” said Angely Chi, co-organizer of BLTX. The seventh edition of the expo was a first of its kind to be held in Davao and, to Chi, this showed just how alive and well the independent publishing community really is.

Last October, stories on relationships, struggles, and self-discovery and self-acceptance found home in a new anthology by young Moro writers.

The book Rays of the Invisible Light, published by Bidadali Press, was launched with hopes to bring to the table stories and voices that highlight vulnerabilities of young (yet forward-thinking) Moros who, like everyone else, are struggling to find their place.

Each story, carefully edited by writer and filmmaker Gutierrez “Teng” Mangansakan II, gives readers a glimpse into the lives of “millennials” in Mindanao that not everybody gets to hear from.


During graduation season, senior fashion students of the Philippine Women’s College-Davao (PWC-Davao) reflected on the heritage and history of Davao City’s tribes.

The capsule garment collections presented during their graduation show and art and design exhibit (called ArThrive) were contemporary renditions and interpretations of specific cultural elements of southern ethnic groups.

The students were mentored and guided by fashion designer and educator Emi Englis, who is passionate about something that he calls “heritage fashion.”

Visual art

Art made its way to more people by going out of museums. Gone are the days when art was strictly confined in museums or meant to be enjoyed by the more privileged.

A larger segment of the general public is becoming witness to the efforts of Davao artists and private organizations to bring art more closer to the community.

Public events and exhibits staged in places of convergence (especially those that are held to coincide with the upcoming Araw ng Dabaw) continue to make art concepts more tangible and accessible.

One of the notable examples of these is the Davao Art Market that opened in SM Lanang Premier.

The pop-up shop showcased works of seven local artists/art groups and sold pieces worthy of public display.

The Davao chapter of the Guild for Upholding and Harnessing Indispensable Talents (GUHIT) Pinas spread the art love as they held their first major exhibition for the benefit of the Badjao community in the city. The exhibit, called Unang Badlis, held at the Got Heart Gallery of The Peak in GMall Davao, showcased the art pieces of the young artists of the group who skillfully made use of graphite pens, charcoal, acrylic, oil, watercolor, color pencil, soft pastel, and even simple ballpoint pens to create vidid images on canvas.

Rey Sugarol, president of GUHIT Pinas Davao, said that their group promotes the discovery, enhancement, and use of artistic talents as an act of involvement in common campaigns toward economic, political, social, environmental, moral, and spiritual development.


Music made a significant tribute to heritage this year, too. Contemporary and old world music meld in Tud-om To Kua Balangay (The Chant of the Balangay), a musical performance that honored the ancient sailboat of Butuan City—the Balangay.

The event was staged at the Matina Town Square by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and music organization SAMADhI Davao to culminate the National Arts Month.

With direction by Popong Landero, the event put Jojo and his band Crowns Down (Tunog Mindanao 2012 winner) in their best form, depicting tribal music with modern equipment that brought the audience to experience the distinct sounds that express the culture of the Manobo.


PWC launched the book Davao Cuisine: Recipes of the Ten Tribes of Davao City.

It features recipes of the Kadayawan tribes of Davao: Ata Manobo, Bagobo, Jangan, Matigsalug, Ubo Manuvu, Kalagan, Maguindanao, Maranao, Sama, and Tausug.

The book, a first of its kind published by PWC Davao, is edited by four-time Palanca awardee and Datu Bago awardee Dr. Mac Tiu. He was also a director of research in PWC Davao.

Performance art

Last April in Asia’s Got Talent (AGT), young Mindanawon beatboxer Neil Rey Garcia Llanes received four “yeses” from the show’s judges after doing his audition piece.

His performance, which ran for about two full minutes, impressed the judges, the hosts, and the crowd.

AGT hosts Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez could be seen dancing in the backstage as Neil was performing. Judge Vanness Wu (music artist and former boy band F4 member) also danced in his seat with Melanie. The crowd roared as Neil’s performance peaked.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that,” said judge David Foster. The Canadian musician, record producer, composer showed his delight and amazement at Neil. “I know that David Guetta and DJ Tiesto make half a million bucks a night doing that without using their voice.”

Llanes dropped out of the competition eventually to pursue his university studies.


With only less than a year of preparations, Koronadal made the International Folklore Festival of CIOFF possible in the form of Pyesta Kolon Datal. The nine-day festival, with shows throughout the SOCCSKSARGEN region, brought to the country performers and groups from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Turkey, Japan, Russia, Slovenia, Chinese Taipei, and Poland (as well as performers from other cities in the Philippines).

Cultural exchanges, through tours and workshops, were held in the municipalities of Surallah, Isulan, San Jose, Tampakan, Norala, Tantangan, Tboli, Santo Nino, Tupi and Banga in South Cotabato. The road shows covered Alabel in Sarangani, General Santos, and Tacurong.

But other than the festivities, the core of the festival is to highlight and preserve the “intangible cultural heritage” of the Blaan—a group of indigenous people in the region which the Koronadal mayor worries is threatened by modern day acculturation.

Lifestyle and tradition

Yogis from around the world came together in time for the International Day of Yoga, a celebration that the United Nations General Assembly itself recognized December last year.

According to the UN, proclaiming June 21 as a day to unite the world through yoga goes beyond physical practice. Yoga, a word derived from Sanskrit which means “to join” or “to unite,” is seen today as a tool that envisions nations in harmony and in peace. The International Yoga Day aims to “raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga.”


During the Kadayawan season, dance as a form of art was focused through Sayaw Mindanaw.

Dance has long been regarded as a universal language that transcends mankind’s differences. The same medium stands through the test of time, staying alive in various forms, studying movements and spaces, and, more importantly, telling stories of people.

The annual dance contest and an integral component of the Kadayawan Festival, the entries emphasize indigenous Mindanao performance art, putting generous spotlight on tradition and folklore with creative processes that bring the old to the new.

In the same way, folks from the University of the Philippines Mindanao Dance Ensemble staged their annual dance concert and shared the importance of dance as a medium.

“Dance is the only agent that can easily articulate the politics and psychology of spaces,” said Gloryrose Dy, UP Mindanao Dance Ensemble alumni. “And this can be translated to the psychology of man – emotions, ideas, etc. It is also a kind of medium that is extremely subtle in telling the truth but extremely powerful in making people see the truth.”

Art for a cause

Last September, we met Nikolo Salazar, a Tacloban-born young artist who was among the thousands of victims who went through the wrath of typhoon Yolanda. Today, he holds art workshops for children who are going through trauma.

Contemporary art and installations

More contemporary artists made waves in the local scenes. The Dakbayan contemporary art show at the Durer Art Gallery opened on the long Araw ng Dabaw weekend with myriad artworks and ideas on the spotlight. The exhibit in the small art gallery in One Oasis Condo in Ecowest Drive in Ecoland was graced by no less than Aida Rivera Ford as the guest of honor. In her opening speech, she said that she is very happy to see that the artists in the community are up and about doing what they do and making the art scene alive.


This year was the year of electronic dance music, with rave parties and spectacle shows being mounted in major events in the city. These included Kadayawan Invasion and Arcadia.

Digital art

Independent art events flourished throughout. For example, Art Attack, an annual art event of the active members of the Davao Graphic Designers Community (DGDC), featured the group’s artworks along with self-produced merchandise, unique (and healthy) food offerings, and acoustic music. The same group held the very much celebrated Graphicon 4, the most anticipated gathering of Davao graphic designers, enthusiasts, and students. It was held at the SMX Convention Center of SM Lanang Premier.


Horror film makers gained attention through Origane Films’ Davao Ngilngig Film Festival 2015, which highlighted local horror stories from Davao.

The Mindanao Film Festival (MFF) returns this year, celebrating 11 years of storytelling and the creativity of local filmmakers young and old alike. The country’s longest running regional film festival is organized by the Mindanao Film and Television Development Foundation, together with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Film Development Council of the Philippines and the Davao Autism Intervention Center Foundation Inc.

MFF voices out the message in its theme: “Ang atong Salida.”

“The films in the MFF is our cinema.  The films are shaped by the same factors that had shaped our lives here. Our stories, aspirations, struggles, etc. are encapsulated in that cinema,” MFF festival director Rudolph Alama said. The festival continues to give local filmmakers a platform to showcase their works, a storytelling tradition that MFF has long had for the past decade.

Artists and journalists

At the end of the year, the only monthly media forum on arts and culture marked its second anniversary. Every month, Art Talk gathers local artists from different fields to give them a platform to develop, promote, and create projects. Artists and their visions came to a full circle as the year ends, vividly picturing out what’s to come in 2016. Through active coverages of Davao journalists and lifestyle writers, Art Talk is able to reinforce the idea of the arts being the soul of the community.


Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, who considers Cagayan de Oro as her second home, brought home the Miss Universe crown and title. For more than 40 years now, the country has been falling short of winning in the beauty pageant.