Guardians of Tradition: The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (2012)
by: Mae Astrid Tobias
Illustrations by: Rommel E. Joson
Photos by: Renato S. Rastrollo / National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)
What is the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan? (p. 4)
Filipinos are very artistic people. All over the county, you find people who love to sing, dance, paint, write, play musical instruments, and create the most beautiful things the way their forebears have taught them. There are also special people who spend their entire lives making sure that these traditional arts are not forgotten.
The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan was created in 1992 through Republic Act No. 7355 in order to let the whole Philippines know about these people and their art.
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Lang Dulay, Blanket of Dreams (pp. 12-13)
Lang Dulay of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato has been weaving t’nalak since she was twelve years old.
T’nalak is what the T’boli call the three-colored cloth made from fine abaca fiber. The three colors of the t’nalak represent the three places where the T’boli believe the soul goes when one dies. Hitem (black) is for people who died because of natural causes. Hulo (red) for those who died violently like by a bullet or a blade. Bukay (white) is for those who take taken their lives and those whose deaths were untimely.
The T’boli weavers, like Lang Dulay, get the designs for their t’nalak from their dreams. They believe that when Fu Dalu, the spirit of the abaca, shows them the design in their dreams, they must immediately weave it into cloth or else they might fall ill and soon forget the pattern. Sometimes, the designs are passed on from generation to generation, from grandmother to grandchild. Lang Dulay knows a hundred designs like the bulinglangit (clouds), the bangkiring (hair bangs), and the kabangi (butterfly).
When Lang Dulay became a Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan awardee, she was able to build a traditional long house where she teaches younger women how to weave.
The T’boli get their ideas for t’nalak designs from their dreams. Dreams are good sources of ideas for stories, poems, and drawings. Why don’t you try to keep a dream journal? Get a small notebook and a pen. Keep it near your bed. Every morning when you wake up, write down or sketch what you remember from your dream the previous night.
Uwang Ahadas, Maestro of Yakan Music (pp. 16-17)
Uwang Ahadas always wears a pair of dark glasses. He lost his eyesight when he was only five. But he does not let his disability keep him from becoming a master of Yakan music.
Together with his siblings, he learned to play different instruments like the gabbang and the agung. The instrument called the kwintangan kayu is supposed to be played by women only, but Ahadas broke this tradition and learned how to play this.
Ahadas wants children to learn to play instruments while they are young because their hands and wrists are still flexible. He teaches them by showing them his techniques.
Even when working in the fields, the Yakans play their musical instruments. One of these instruments is the gabbang. Small children play it to shoo away animals from planted crops. It looks like a xylophone, but it is made of five bamboo slats.
Another instrument is the kwintangan kayu which is made of five wooden logs hung horizontally under a tree near a ricefield. It is played to make the rice plants grow faster.
Blind people have keener senses of touch, sound, taste, and scent. Try to find out how it feels to be blind by getting a handkerchief and covering your eyes. Notice the sounds, smells, textures, and taste of the things around you.
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