By Rhobie A. Ruaya
THE SILLIMAN UNIVERSITY (SU) Cultural Affairs Committee (CAC), in cooperation with the production of Ulahingan, brought “Tales of the Manobo,” a short concert featuring the Talahari indigenous band last Jan. 23 at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium.
The concert featured 11 Manobo natives from Pantalan, Maramag Bukidnon who performed their ethnic songs and dances.
There were eight songs and six dances performed. Diomar Abrio, chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, explained that “their stage back in Bukidnon is just the yuta (ground)” and that they did not have any program distributed for the audience.
“Sila ra mu-explain sa ilahang traditional songs and dances. Their performance is truly original and not staged,” said Abrio.
Crismer Buntan, former cluster head of National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the eldest member of the performing group said that their tribe is thankful to the university for choosing Lumads to perform out of seven tribes existing in Bukidnon.
“Among gipasalamatan ang Silliman University kauban sa staff ug sa president. Naglaon mi nga ‘dli lang kay karon lang mi ma-invite, naa pay sunod na mga panahon,” he added.
The members of the performing group, aside from the members of the Talahari Indigenous Band and a nine-year old girl, were composed of students from School Living Tradition (SLT) High School for Lumads in Bukidnon.
Buntan said that to preserve their tradition, their dances and songs are practiced in school.
The Talahari Indigenous Band started in 2001 and is supported by the NCCA.
Abrio said that CAC is having a project called “Ulahingan” and that they will be making a local production of a show titled “The Saliling Tale” this March. They invited the Manobo tribe to conduct a workshop for the cast of Ulahingan.
Abrio also said that it is a project of the United Board for Christian Higher Education to put up a production.
“We went to Bukidnon last summer to visit different tribes and we found the [Manobos] through NCCA,” he added.
The director of the upcoming Ulahingan Project is Denise Aguilar, a theatre practitioner and educator.
Abrio also said that their version would be contemporary but will still have the elements of ethnic tradition. “The music will have a touch of contemporary but the production is yet to ask permission from the natives because it’s their tradition,” he said.
The performing group has been going around the Philippines for almost 12 years and their next invitation is from Davao.
The short concert was also co-presented by Philippine Airlines and Coco Grande Hotel.~