SAYAW MINDANAW 2014: Appreciating Mindanao’s Indigenous Culture and Traditions

Twenty five participating dance and theatre ensembles converged at Davao City Recreation Center for the annual staging of Sayaw Mindanaw, an annual indigenous-based dance competition held in Davao City as part of the Kadayawan Festival celebration. It is considered as one of the important events of the festival as it depicts the rich and colorful culture and tradition of the Mindanao portrayed though live indigenous music and theatrical dance narratives.

SAYAW MINDANAWI had the opportunity to be seated at the front row witnessing a rare convergence of vibrant colors, rhythmic beats and graceful movements of different tribes in Mindanao. It is not just a competition but also a celebration and appreciation of Mindanao’s rich indigenous culture and traditions.

Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 80Sayaw Mindanaw is open to all dance groups of students, out of school youth and community based performers though out Mindanao. Entries should be of theatrical dance narratives narrating Mindanao Indigenous Peoples’ epics, folklores and traditions.

Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 142 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 143Out of the 25 participating entries vying for the qualifying round and the finals, Davao City’s Madayaw Dance Ensemble was adjudged as champion in this year’s Sayaw Mindanao competition. Second place went to the T’boli National High School Performing Arts from T’boli, South Cotabato and Liceo de Cagayan Folkloric Dance Troupe from Cagayan De Oro City bagged the third prize.

Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 122One of the entries of this year’s competition is the Caraga National High School Dance Troupe from Caraga, Davao Oriental where they portrayed indigenous Mandayan marriage ceremony. I was so proud to see them wearing proudly the vivid colors and performing lively the cultures of our Mandaya brothers and sisters from our Province. In the end, they bagged the special citation as Best in Indigenous Research Material.

100 CAPTURED MOMENTS AT SAYAW MINDANAW

Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 29 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 54 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 64 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 67 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 68 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 73 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 81 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 89 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 93 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 99 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 101 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 105 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 110 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 114 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 115 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 116 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 121 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 129 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 130 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 136 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 139 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 140 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 142 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 157 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 159 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 162 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 164 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 169 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 172 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 178 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 179 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 180 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 181 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 184 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 189 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 193 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 195 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 197 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 198 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 205 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 206 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 210 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 213 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 214 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 225 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 233 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 236 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 243 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 252 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 254 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 256 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 259 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 260 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 262 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 266 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 268 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 271 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 274 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 275 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 276 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 277 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 289 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 294 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 298 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 301 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 303 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 330 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 331 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 338 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 346 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 349 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 352 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 355 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 359 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 362 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 365 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 369 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 370 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 373 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 375 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 387 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 388 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 391 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 396 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 398 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 400 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 402 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 404 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 405 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 416 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 421 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 429 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 434 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 435 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 437 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 439 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 441 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 448 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 452 Sayaw MIndanaw 2014 455

The staging of Sayaw Mindanaw every year as part of the Kadayawan Festival celebration is one great opportunity to better understand and appreciate Mindanao’s indigenous culture and traditions. Our diversity and multi-ethnicity make this island the most interesting cultural destination in the country.

The Travel Teller with the winning group - Davao City's Madayaw Dance Ensemble

The Travel Teller with the winning group – Davao City’s Madayaw Dance Ensemble

The Judges and Organizer of SAYAW MINDANAW 2014

The Judges and Organizer of SAYAW MINDANAW 2014

With my fellow MANDAYAS

With my fellow MANDAYAS

Mayor Alicia Mori of Caraga, Davao Oriental receiving the special citation for this year's Sayaw Mindanao, Best in Indigenous Material Research. Congrats Mayor and Caraga National High School Dance Troupe. #ProudMandaya

Mayor Alicia Mori of Caraga, Davao Oriental receiving the special citation for this year’s Sayaw Mindanao, Best in Indigenous Material Research. Congrats Mayor and Caraga National High School Dance Troupe. #ProudMandaya

Byaheng Mindanaw na!

BUILDING BACK BETTER: Cateel and Dumang Together

When Super Typhoon Pablo ravaged everything in our hometown of Cateel including the vast coconut plantation which is the town’s major source of income, our people learn to find ways to make the most of what’s left to them. Though some go back to planting coconuts that bear fruits in five years, there are vast agricultural lands now that are converted to cacao, cassava and vegetable farms. In fact today, farm produce sold in the town proper are supplied by local growers. But among the alternative sources of livelihood flourishing in our town, the chili production and processing is considered the most promising. The production is growing and the demand is increasing.

Cateel Dumang Hot Pablo (31)

Chili production and processing is not new to our hometown. Long before it becomes the leading alternative source of living months after horrible catastrophe, Cateeleños grow native chili already and process dried chili powder locally called “dumang”. But dumang making then was more popular in the hinterlands of Cateel.

Cateel Dumang Hot Pablo (64)

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

Growing up in this rustic town, this red hot chili powder has always been part of our dining table. Come and visit every home in our town, you will see that every table has this. It’s part of our meal. Everytime we eat, it always comes with a mouthwatering sawsawan (dipping sauce) filled with red hot dumang. Even eating lay-ob (boiled bananas and kamote), it’s paired with an appetizing ginamos (bagoong) lavishly topped with this spicy hot pulverized chili.

Cateel Dumang Hot Pablo (5)

Chili Production and Proccessing

Cateel Dumang Hot Pablo (7)

Chili Production and Processing – Subangon Dumang Makers

But what was once a smalltime livelihood is now considered a booming industry not only in my hometown of Cateel but also its neighboring towns of Boston and Baganga. Months after the ravaging onslaught of the Typhoon Pablo, the chili production and processing was intensely encouraged as alternative source of livelihood in these three towns. With the assistance coming from the government, NGOs and the private sector, the program has sustained. Although there are other alternative sources introduced to our people but chili production was widely accepted.

DCIM100GOPRO

This used to be a coconut land now turned into Chili Farm

DCIM100GOPRO

Astig, a variety of Chili, grown in Tawid, Cateel, Davao Oriental

Back then, only native chili peppers were used to make Dumang – native chili are known to be spiciest. After Typhoon Pablo, new varieties of chili were introduced – the Scotch bonnet, Astig and Pinatubo. These are varieties where farmers can grow and harvest in three months’ time. But of course growing of native chili is still extensively encouraged.

Cateel Dumang Hot Pablo (10)

The Solar Dryer

DCIM100GOPRO

The Solar Dryer

With the introduction of new variety of chili in Cateel as alternative livelihood source, there are number of agricultural lands now converted to chili farms. Farmers are starting to like the idea of growing chili and harvesting it within a short period of time. 200 hills of chili can produce 8 to 12 kilos of chili peppers in a week and they grow and bear peppers for 2 years.

Cateel Dumang Hot Pablo (44)

dried chili peppers ready for dumang processing

Cateel Dumang Hot Pablo (63)

dried chili peppers ready for dumang processing

Today, chili farming is widely spread in all the 16 barangays of Cateel including some areas in Poblacion. In Subangon Dumang Makers, the leading chili processing plant in our town, there are 150 chili farmers supplying chili peppers on regular basis – a great indication that indeed this is definitely growing. Aside from processing red hot powdered chili or Dumang, they now also make other chili products like dried chili pepper and crushed chili. Because this industry grows strongly after Typhoon Pablo, locals sometimes coined it “Hot Pablo”.

Cateel Dumang Hot Pablo (113)

Subangon Dumang Makers

Cateel Dumang Hot Pablo (83)

Dumang, Dried Whole Chili Pepper and Crushed Chili Pepper

While production and processing is growing, there is a great need to increase the demand. This is the biggest challenge that both chili growers and the dumang makers are facing now. Although the products have reached as far as Manila and Cebu including of course Davao, the need to widen the market is still at work. Thus, it is their ardent hope that both the government and the private sectors will continue to help them sustain this booming livelihood program.

Scocth Bonnet Chili

Scotch Bonnet Chili

Pinatubo Chili

Pinatubo Chili

Our people are optimistic that this spicy blessing will flourish and that it will them give better hope for a better future. They have been resilient they embrace all the possibilities of restoring back all that was lost to them and for these farmers, chili will help them restore those dreams.

I'm PROUD of this! I'm proud of fellow Cateeleños.

I’m PROUD of this! I’m proud of fellow Cateeleños.

Oh yes, CATEEL and DUMANG together!

Oh yes, CATEEL and DUMANG together!

“Building Back Better”, this is the cry of every Cateeleño in our hometown. With the help of the government, the NGO’s and the private sectors, our town and our people are moving forward from that monstrous day Typhoon Pablo came to destroy our homes and our sources of living . Call it alternative source of living or even temporary but chili farming – its production and processing – is a great proof that our hometown and its resilient people can rise above the darkest days our lives – proof that we can get through all storms of our lives.

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FOR ORDERS AND OTHER INFORMATION, you may call:
SUBANGON DUMANG MAKERS (Cateel, Davao Oriental)
Look for Ricky Arisola or Lulu Reyes (0917-498-9273)

 

T’NALAK FESTIVAL 2014: From the Land of the Dreamweavers to the World!

Living in a country where colorful fiestas and grandiose festivals are reveled all year round, witnessing a convergence of indigenous colors depicting rich culture and living tradition is such a rare experience. Seeing it right at the very heart of the province where the value for culture and the arts is highly regarded, this kind of festival is a feast for the eyes. This is the T’nalak Festival of South Cotabato, the most celebrated festivity in South Central Mindanao.

Tnalak Fest Cover PhotoT’nalak Festival is the province’s annual celebration showcasing the significance of T’nalak cloth as the cultural icon of South Cotabato. An intricately woven tapestry of intense and striking colors, T’nalak is dreamt to life by the T’boli weavers who translate their dreams into intricate geometric patterns of tie-dyed abaca fibers.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (103)T’nalak’s significance to the South Cotabato’s culture has earned its place as the cultural emblem of the province. This unique tradition of woven dreams has put South Cotabato in the world map of traditional tapestry making and has earned them the title “Land of the Dream Weavers”.  Thus, the annual celebration of T’nalak Festival displays the importance of the T’nalak cloth as part of the cultural image of South Cotabato amidst the dual presence of tradition and progress.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (295)Tnalak Festival 2014 (292)T’nalak being the province’s cultural emblem symbolizes the blending of culture, strength and unity not only of T’boli people but of various ethnic groups living in the province. It is during this festive celebration of T’nalak Festival that people of South Cotabato showcase their vibrant cultures and venerable traditions through dazzling cultural performances and pulsating street dancing.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (290) Tnalak Festival 2014 (198)Hailed as the biggest, brightest and the most colorful festival in South Central Mindanao, T’nalak Festival is not just a cheerful celebration of the province’s cultural identity but a great way to showcase the all the best that South Cotabato has to offer including its gentle people.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (305) Tnalak Festival 2014 (326)This becomes evident as the main thoroughfares of Koranadal City, the capital of the province was filled with sprightly music, outstanding performance and vibrant colors as nine contingents coming from different schools, communities and towns converged in the much awaited Street Dancing Competition, the most watched festivity of T’nalak Festival that pays tribute to South Cotabato’s artistic, cultural and historical heritage.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (102) Tnalak Festival 2014 (103)In this highly anticipated Mardi Gras of Indigenous Colors and Dances, the heart pounding ethnic music reverberated all over the city’s downtown district while the vibrant colors of captivating black, red and white – the colors of t’nalak – dominated the streets. These were the pulsating beats and glowing hues brought by the 9 contingents as they showcased rituals and dances of their respective tribes dressed and accessorized by multihued costumes as they performed with great intensity, passion and enthusiasm.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (87) Tnalak Festival 2014 (94) Tnalak Festival 2014 (111) Tnalak Festival 2014 (115) Tnalak Festival 2014 (124) Tnalak Festival 2014 (131) Tnalak Festival 2014 (137) Tnalak Festival 2014 (141) Tnalak Festival 2014 (142) Tnalak Festival 2014 (146) Tnalak Festival 2014 (147) Tnalak Festival 2014 (148) Tnalak Festival 2014 (150) Tnalak Festival 2014 (254) Tnalak Festival 2014 (294) Tnalak Festival 2014 (297) Tnalak Festival 2014 (301) Tnalak Festival 2014 (302) Tnalak Festival 2014 (308) Tnalak Festival 2014 (311) Tnalak Festival 2014 (317) Tnalak Festival 2014 (319) Tnalak Festival 2014 (323) Tnalak Festival 2014 (325) Tnalak Festival 2014 (329) Tnalak Festival 2014 (338) Tnalak Festival 2014 (344) Tnalak Festival 2014 (351) Tnalak Festival 2014 (353) Tnalak Festival 2014 (358)I have always been proud of my roots and heritage as Mindanaoan and witnessing all these made me even prouder and grateful to have been born and raised in this beautiful Island blessed with multi-cultural influences – a privilege I will always be proud of for as long as I live. And just like these multicultural differences showcased during this spectacular street dancing festivity, there is unity in diversity – just as I embraced living and enjoying this huge island of great multicultural diversity.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (1) DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO Tnalak Festival 2014 (377) From Koronadal City, South Cotabato, I am OLAN EMBOSCADO and this is THE TRAVEL TELLER.

THE WARMTH AND RICHES OF THE T’BOLIS

We agreed to meet by 11:30 on Friday night but I was still home at this very hour packing up for this trip I’d been preparing so hard the day I got invited to join. I remembered the last time I had this kind of trip, it almost cost my life. This is the only kind of trip I would consider to decline – it’s strenuous and “buwis-buhay”. But how can I say no for such invitation if the destination was among the places I drooled and bucket-listed. I would die in envy seeing my friends up there and me at the comfort of my bed lamenting for not saying yes – because the destination is worth all the pain, all the exhaustion and the hard work.

Destination: LAKE HOLON | T’boli, South Cotabato.
Mission: TAKLADTAMIG | Outreach Climb

Tboli 1It was past midnight when I hurried to Davao City Overland Transport Terminal where my friends waited for the next trip to General Santos City and Koronadal, South Cotabato. The whole travel from Davao City passing through these two important cities in SoCCSKSarGen takes about 5 hours. At 1:30, we left Davao and got to Koronadal City at 7:00 in the morning and from there a tourist bus boarded us bound to our main destination, the Municpality of T’boli.

T'boli South Cotabato (40)

The Very Challenging Open Trail

The butt-numbing drump-truck ride to Sito Kule

The butt-numbing drump-truck ride to Sito Kule

The municipality of T’boli is located in the hinterlands, on the southwestern portion of Province of South Cotabato. With rugged, rolling terrain, valleys and high slopes a top the mountain ranges, T’boli is home to the two important ethnic tribes in the province – the T’boli and B’laan. Our outreach destination is the Tboli community in Sitio Kule, Barangay Salacafe, and jump of point to the famed Lake Holon.

Sitio Kule, Barangay Salacafe

The Quaint Sitio Kule, Barangay Salacafe

TAKLADTAMIG | Outreach Climb is an outreach program of Friends of Holon and Melibingoy (FHM), a group of independent and solo mountaineers in South Cotabato. This year’s program was in partnership with the Mindanao Tourism Council (MinTC), a voluntary non-stock, non-profit organization of private tourism players in Mindanao where I am designated as the unofficial Travel Blogger. Sitio Kule, Barangay Salacafe is about an hour ride from the town’s Poblacion and about 45-minute hike to the sitio proper.

The Welcoming faces of the Children of Sitio Kule

The Welcoming faces of the Children of Sitio Kule

Children beaming as we exchanged morning greetings!

The beaming Kids as we exchanged morning greetings!

It was the genuine hospitality of the T’bolis that welcomed us as we arrived at the Sitio Kule. The elders, the young and the children were all beaming as we exchanged morning greetings. Everyone went outside of their homes lining in the narrow street welcoming us like we were their most valued guests. They spoke their tongue but I knew those were words of welcome and that warmth, that hospitality defines the richness of their culture and their way of life. And it sweetly lessened the exhaustion we endured going up there.

T'boli woman dressed in colorful T'boli apparel.

T’boli woman dressed in colorful T’boli apparel.

Ma Sinam Muan, an elder  and chanter of the Tribe helped me with my scarf.

Ma Sinam Muan, an elder and chanter of the Tribe helped me with my scarf.

As program started, an elder of the tribe named Ma Sinam Muan welcomed us with a soulful T’boli chant. As he chanted, his people were cheering for him yelling out words I didn’t comprehend. But sure those were welcoming words from a very welcoming tribe. I was glued from where I stood listening to him wondering what it meant but so mesmerized by such astonishing ethnic tradition. Later I’ve learned that Ma Sinam Muan is one of the few remaining Tboli chanters. We are so lucky to have heard him chant.

T'boli South Cotabato (75)

With the T’boli Kids of Sitio Kule

TTT or The T'boli Teens

TTT or The T’boli Teens

Just among the many items we give to community. Thank you DONORS.

Just among the many items we give to community. Thank you DONORS.

The welcome chant was then followed by ethnic performances from the members of the tribe. Dressed in the full colorful T’boli costumes, T’boli women started dancing while accompanied by the rhythmic beat of the T’boli gongs. I’ve seen many cultural performances in the city and places I’ve been but this kind of performances only become more significant when played and performed by authentic members of the tribe. I find it amusing seeing them perform these traditional dances that are handed down to them by their ancestors.

T'boli South Cotabato (104) T'boli South Cotabato (108) T'boli South Cotabato (111) T'boli South Cotabato (113) T'boli South Cotabato (116) T'boli South Cotabato (160) T'boli South Cotabato (164)Their colorful woven costumes, headdresses, amulets, anklets, earrings and necklaces beautifully depict their rich colorful tradition. And seeing one little girl dancing gracefully before us made me see that this tribe will flourish and their culture will be handed down to the next generation of T’boli people.

I found a DOLL in T'boli. She's so adorable.

I found a DOLL in T’boli. She’s so adorable.

After the distribution of school supplies, medicines, canned goods, packed food items and slippers to 200 kids and 52 households, the community treated us for scrumptious lunch where local and indigenous food were served. We shared and feasted over local gastronomic finds some of us haven’t eaten in years. Oh, the taste of the local coffee is still fresh and I wish to taste it again when I chance to come there.

Local Food Overload

Local Food Overload

We brought some of these at Lake Holon.

We brought some of these at Lake Holon.

Native na Mais

Native na Mais

I was looking for Ginamos for this.

I was looking for Ginamos for this.

Honestly when I left Davao City that morning, I thought it was only Lake Holon that will mesmerize me. I was surprise to realize that its people can melt my heart. It wasn’t only Lake Holon that made me so connected to this town – but the people who welcomed us, who embraced us with their warmth and kindness. These are their exemplary traits – their riches.

MAY YOUR TRIBE INCREASE!

Oh by the way, I planted a tree at Sitio Kule.

Oh by the way, I planted a tree at Sitio Kule.

Friends of Holon and Melibingoy (FHM), a group of independent and solo mountaineers in South Cotabato.

FHM is a group of independent and solo mountaineers based in South Cotabato.

How To Get To Tboli:

From General Santos City, the Municipality of T’boli is just 1.5 hour away by private ride or barely 2 hours by public ride. If you are traveling from Davao City, it will take you around 3.5 hours to get to General Santos City. Buses and utility vans are available for those who will take the public transportation.

Travel Time and Transpo Fare:
Davao City to Gen.Santos City – est 3.5 hours – P270.00
Gen.Santos City to Koronadal City – est. 55 minutes – Php 97.00 by bus, P75 by van
Koronadal City to Tboli – est. 45 minutes – Php 70.00 by van

WRITER’S NOTE:

I would life to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Friends of Holon and Melibingoy (FHM) and the Mindanao Tourism Council (MinTC) for organizing this event and for inviting us to be part of it. To the leaders and members of Tboli Community, thank you for welcoming us to your homes. To our sponsors and benefactors who generously shared their possessions, namely the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Senator Misis Cynthia Villar sa Mindanao, GUIDE Davao, South Cotabato Provincial Tourism Office, Lake Sebu EcoTourism Council, the LGU of Lake Sebu, our birthday girl Ate Ju Dy Pazon and of course the LGU of  T’boli and its Local Tourism Office.  Special thank you shout out goes to Louie Pacardo and Jonalier Perez.

Bong S’lamat. Hanggang sa muli!

WHY DO WE NEED TO PROTECT BUILT HERITAGE?

When the provinces of Bohol and Cebu was hit by a destructive earthquake last year, the country mourned not only for the loss of lives of many people and for the devastation of many homes but also for the many century old structures, churches in particular, that were brought into rubble and wrecked by an intensity 8 tremor. Three weeks after that, the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded hit the Visayas Region killing more lives, damaged countless of infrastructure and destroyed a number of century old historical sites.

Built Heritage Sites 1Many grieved for such loss saddened and shocked by such successive mishap. Many, including myself, grieved not only for the lives and homes that were lost but also for the heritage sites that was shaken and destroyed in just hours – built heritage that was inherited from our great ancestors.

Built Heritage Sites 2

Century Old Churches of Bohol After Typhoon Yolanda

While my heart bleeds for those who perished in this disastrous mishap and for those who survived yet remained unsound, another part of me laments for the chances I missed beholding some of the most important ancient historical structures we have in the country. I regret for not being able to marvel at these heritage sites long before earthquake and typhoons battered and vanished them.

Built Heritage Sites 2

The Old Church of my Hometown Cateel after Typhoon Pablo

The same sorrow I felt when Typhoon Pablo ravaged my hometown of Cateel in the east coast of Davao Oriental devastating almost every structure we have there including institutions that molded my education. Old houses and buildings were destroyed and what remained are few remnants of our olden timest. Until today, I can still feel the sadness for all the things that were taken away from us – including built heritage that would have served as a great reminder of our past.

Philippine Built Heritage Sites 11

The Century-old Church of Boljoon, Cebu Province

Dalaguete Churh in Southern Cebu Province

The Dalaguete Church in Southern Cebu Province

But somehow, these ill-timed misfortunes teach us to love, to value more of what we have – including those that we consider things and sights of great history and heritage of our ancient times. It opened our eyes to see the importance of these sites in molding our country to be become what it is now and shaping its people to become who we are at present – a country and people of great history and heritage.

The Heritage City of Vigan in Ilocos Sur

The Heritage City of Vigan in Ilocos Sur

The Bantay Bellfry

The Bantay Bellfry

I may have regrets and lamentations for not traveling around discovering more heritage sites in different corners of the country, somehow I feel so privileged that in one of my humble wanderings, I was led to see and marvel at places that once shaped this nation and its people. Seeing those numbers of sites made me prouder of my race as a Filipino.

The Ruins at Corrigedor Island

The Ruins at Corrigedor Island

The Ruins of Cuartel in Oslob, Cebu

The Ruins of Cuartel in Oslob, Cebu

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Sur

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Sur

Today I say enough of lamentations, enough of so much regret. These 7,107 islands so called the Philippines host to thousands of heritage discoveries waiting to be seen, to be unearthed. I still get all the reason to wander around and see all these for myself. And I vow to see them, if not all least half of what we have.

Cagsawa Ruins at at the foot of Mount Mayon, Albay

The Cagsawa Ruins at the foot of Mount Mayon, Albay

The Ruins of the Old Church in Camguin Island

The Ruins of the Old Church in Camguin Island

Call me fortunate, I was among the chosen few flown to Manila last week to join the Wikimedia Philippines Cultural Heritage Mapping Volunteer Workshop sponsored by the Wikimedia Philippines and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. It aimed to teach the participant/volunteer the fundamentals of built heritage in the Philippines, as well as training with the necessary skills in heritage documentation, heritage photography, geographic mapping and content creation using the Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and other Wikimedia projects. The workshop is an eye opener for me to understand more the value of our built heritage and why do we need to protect them.

Wikipedia Philippine Cultural Heriatge Mapping Project

Wikipedia Philippine Cultural Heriatge Mapping Project

Built Heritage is our identity. It is what makes us different from others. It shows our wealth as a nation and shows our diversity. Heritage is something that, once lost, can never be found again. And that I came to realize that we should protect it, preserve it because it is the remnants of in our glorious past that without doubt defines our present. We are part of that heritage and it is apt to preserve it.

PAOAY CHURCH, a UNESCO Heritage Site

PAOAY CHURCH, a UNESCO Heritage Site

Our built heritage represents the way of life of those who went before us – our forefathers who fought for us. It signifies their vision and aspirations and today it is bequeathed to us for us to enjoy, to enhance and to hand on to future generations.Thus, the need to protect it.

Me and the old church of St. James the Apostle Parish and the old monument of Jose Rizal in my hometown of Cateel.

St. James the Apostle Parish and the old monument of Jose Rizal in my hometown of Cateel.

Along with millions of heritage admirers across the globe, I pray that heritage conservation in this country will flourish and I pledge to take part of that conservation in my own little way. For I am a Filipino, I’m proud of my race, my history and my heritage.

By the way, just so you know, Built Heritage is described by law as any building 50 years and older.