Sunday, October 21, 2007

Notes on our Ifugao weekend...

The Ifugao Dance and Music Ensemble of Banawe's performance at SSU was well attended and much appreciated. Allelulia provided the narrative of their 90min performance beginning with the Ifugao Creation Story, Tribal Justice, and the three-part Wedding ritual. Their oldest member, 61yr old mumbaki Apu Hukita, recited parts of the epic chant hud-hud. It was a high energy performance and during the last wedding part where they were playing Ifugao games, the kids in the audience ran down to the front of the stage to watch.

Post-performance q and a, picture taking, and more. By the time the evening was over, the group had split into three and went home with host families. I had six of them at home and we didn't want to sleep but we had to. It was 1:30am.

The morning after, the presidents of the local Fil Am communities brought food for breakfast for our "meet and greet" time at my home. Before eating we asked Apo Hukita to pray and he prayed a christian prayer in Ilocano. Then we had sharing afterwards and the Fil Am members of the ensemble were teary eyed as they shared their journey of trying to reconnect with their indigeneity. A Filipino Pomo, Alex CAnillo, brought a Pomo basket, a clapper, and a sedge bundle to share and show with the Ifugaos. Gloria Batalao, the "mother hen," (who is 100%Ifugao and descendant of Otley Beyer) cried as she talked about being converted to Baptist and being told to renounce her grandfather who is a shaman/mumbaki. And the sharing went on and on just like that...very heartfelt. The Fil Am community leaders who are all christians didn't know how to react to the talk about shamans, indigeneity, decolonization, christianity, and etc...but they were all quite touched by the sharing.

I gave away copies of my orange book to the Ifugao group...Oh, one of the young dancers, Sheldon, is a mumbaki in training; he is the grandson of Apo Pogong, one of the last living mumbaki. The group coaxed him to give a sample of a chant and he did a short one but then one of their more mature spokespersons, Renato, talked about the inappropriateness of reciting the chants out of context.

He told the story of how, as children, he and his friends went out to the rice fields and they would imitate the chants, dance, and rituals of the mumbaki as childplay. Once, as they played this game, a spirit descended and they recognized it and they got scared because they didn't have an offering to the spirit. So one of the boys got sick and then they had to call a real mumbaki to heal the boy. So he said this practice is really powerful and shouldn't be taken lightly.

After the sharing, we just sort of naturally moved outside as the sun was nice and warm. They started picking apples, playing gongs outside and pretty soon we were all on the sidewalk dancing...but the neighborhood was so quiet, only the Mexicans next door came out to watch. More talking, sharing, picture taking. The Filipino long goodbye.

What a blessed even if tiring weekend!! It is almost magical, miraculous when people connect deeply. Alleluia and I promised that we would do more collaborative work in the future.

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