|Sining Kandidilimudan Ensemble of MSU Maguindanao performs an excerpt of Maharadia Lawana|
The ikat dyeing technique for hand-woven textiles is practiced by several ethnic groups not only in the Philippines, but also in some countries in Southeast Asia. Also, there are similar stories that are being retold within the region, such as the different versions of the epic Ramayana, an influence from India. The commonality in traditional culture and heritage is more evident in an area in Southeast Asia that includes the countries the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia.
These shared heritage and traditions, as well as the diversity of cultures, will be highlighted by the very first Budayaw: The BIMP-EAGA Festival of Culture and the Arts, which will be held from September 20 to 24, 2017, in General Santos City. The festival will include different activities and events such as lectures, workshops, performances, exhibits, tours and others.
“Budayaw, as festival of cultures, showcases the links of our diverse cultures within the equator surrounded by or attached to the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas, a very ruch area of natural resources, but at the same time very blessed with diversity of cultures, which historically have been linked together since the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth century,” explained Nestor Horfilla, a theater veteran and cultural worker, who serves as the festival director.
Before the current political boundaries, the peoples of what are now the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia have been in contact with each other since the olden times. Although the main purpose was trade, they were also influencing each other’s cultures.
Aside from geographical proximity, the during links among the four nations became the basis of the establishment of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), a cooperation to bolster socio-economic developemnt in the region with a shared strategy, about 20 years ago.
The BIMP-EAGA originally focuses on areas of tourism, environment, connectivity and transportation, and food production. In November 2015, the socio-cultural aspect and education pillar was officially added as an area of focus.
“Twenty years of economic cooperation in the BIMP-EAGA led to the realization that culture, indeed, is a vital element in sustainable development of the four countries in the equator,” said Horfilla.
The Budayaw Festival is the first major cultural project of the BIMP-EAGA.
The Philippines was chosen to host the first festival, whose name was coined from two words—budaya, Malay for “culture,” and dayaw, a word in several Philippine languages that means “bounty” or “praise”—and which will be held every two years among the four countries.
As the official Philippine representative in the BIMP-EAGA Socio-Cultural Development Working Group, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) spearheads the holding of the festival, providing about P10 million in funding, in collaboration with different agencies and institutions including the Mindanao Development Authority, Department of Tourism Region XII, the city government of General Santos, the provincial government of Sarangani, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Philippine Information Agency.
The Budayaw Festival is a chance to showcase the cultural richness of Mindanao and Palawan, the islands that are part of BIMP-EAGA. It will feature traditional arts, crafts and practices.
One notable event is the exhibit on ikat-dyeing technique, which has been used by many Mindanao groups such as the T’boli and the Blaan on their hand weaving. A specially designed pavilion will serve as a shared domain of invited master weavers, who will conduct a demonstration on the age-old practice.
Another traditional art to be highlighted in the festival is indigenous music with performances using native musical instruments such as gongs, bamboo instruments and string instruments. These instruments are also shared heritage of the four countries.
Performances of traditional dances, such as the pangalay of the Tausug, kab-apir-apir of the Meranaw and T’boli dances from the Philippines, are also included.
Contemporary artistic creations will share the spotlight with traditional heritage. The BIMP-EAGA artists, for example, will display their works at the “Under One Sky” exhibit. Choral groups will be invited to perform. There will be performances of contemporary dances.
Notable is a grand theatrical production of six Mindanao theater groups. The Sining Kambayoka Ensemble of Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City; Sining Kandidilimudan Ensemble of MSU in Maguindanao; Kabpapagariya Ensemble of MSU in General Santos City; Kaliwat Performing Artists Collective of Davao City; Kagay-an Performing Arts Troupe of Cagayan de Oro City; and Tambuli Cultural Troupe of Tawi-Tawi will converge for a collaborative dramatic adaptation of Maharadia Lawana. Each group were given to an episode of the Meranaw prose folk narrative version of the Ramayana to be adapted for the stage.
To make the Budayaw experience more immersive, there will be special tour packages for the visiting guests and tourists to explore the richness of Mindanao culture, as well as its touristic destinations.
A series of colloquiums will tackle cultural exchanges and the safeguarding cultural diversity. According to Horfilla, they will try to gather experiences and proposals to craft strategies to enhance cultural exchanges among the BIMP-EAGA member countries, and these will be submitted to different cultural ministries “so that they will open more windows for cultural exchange for artists.”
Most of the Budayaw events will be held at the major malls of General Santos City including SM City General Santos, Gaisano Mall, Veranza Mall and KCC Mall, where there will plenty of foot traffic.
“Roots of tradition and routes of development in culture are the key issues that we would like to highlight in the Budayaw Festival,” said Horfilla. “We also want to emphasize the right of people to appreciate different cultures.
While showcasing the diversity of creative expressions of BIMP-EAGA cultural masters and artists, the Budayaw Festival is hoped to raise awareness and foster appreciation for the cultures and arts of the region, thus engendering understanding and solidarity among the peoples of the BIMP-EAGA.
|Kabpapagariya Ensemble of MSU General Santos City performs an excerpt of Maharadia Lawana|
|Traditional attires and weaving are featured at the festival|
|Blaan children performing traditional dance|