A few years ago, I went to Bukidnon with a production team to film a feature story about the Talaandigs, an indigenous tribe in Bukidnon.
“The Talaandigs are one of the indigenous groups in the province of Bukidnon, Mindanao Philippines who has continued to preserve and promote its indigenous customs, beliefs and practices despite the strong influx of modernization and change. The Talaandig population is roughly estimated to be at about 100,000 people or more. The members of the group are found in barangays and municipalities surrounding the mountain of Kitanglad, the historic domain of the Talaandig people.”
Before we were allowed to enter the community, the tribal elders held a welcome ritual asking their spirit gods to recognize their guests’ intentions. As far as I can remember, it involved chewing betel leaves and a lot of 25 centavo coins. Nearby, the children observed the ritual quietly.
After the ritual, everyone gathered in a clearing in the middle of the community where we were treated to the tribe’s traditional dances.
Today, the Talaandig culture is being passed on to future generations by the School for Living Tradition founded by the Talaandig Cultural Center.
“In the midst of growing threat on our indigenous cultures brought about by the fast changes of a globalized world, Datu Migketay Victorino Saway started a School for Living Tradition. It is a space within the Cultural Center of the Talaandig community in Songko, Lantapan Bukidnon where children can play their own musical instruments specifically the big Talaandig tambol, sing their own songs, listen to the Talaandig stories and learn the Talaandig games and dances from Inay a Talaandig cultural master. In this haven for children, anyone is free to explore and experiment with sound and space. It is here where children build their foundation on the Talaandig story and self identity.
I regret not filming this beautiful dance nor the music that accompanied it! But to give you an idea, here’s a clip of Waway Saway, a well-known Talaandig musician, who has worked so hard to keep his tribe’s traditions alive and has led his people to protect the Kitanglad Rainforest, their ancestral domain.
*All photos were taken by myself using a Canon Powershot G5. All rights reserved. 2006.