On August 1, 2009, Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble had one of its most exciting concerts.
Below is the press release:
Concert of Traditional Music and Dances of the Southern Philippines featured at The Neurosciences Institute Auditorium in La Jolla.
The SAMAHAN Filipino American Performing Arts and Education Center proudly presents the concert entitled, Pakaraguian – Music and Dances of Southern Philippines, on August 1, 2009, Saturday, at 7:00 o’clock in the evening at The Neurosciences Institute Auditorium at 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, La Jolla, CA 92121. This is the first time a concert featuring Philippine music is featured and generously underwritten by The Neurosciences Institute (NSI), as part of Performing Arts at The Neurosciences Institute, a series of cultural events presented as a community service to support arts in San Diego to underscore the special relationship between the arts and the brain.
Kulintang music, considered the highest form of gong music in the country, is an ancient form of music that has been played for centuries by the indigenous peoples in the Philippines, predating the Islam, Christian and Western influences. Mindanao’s traditional music, as well as their dances, is to some extent, similar to the culture of the Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Southern Thailand.
The Samahan Philippine Dance Company and Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble, directed by Ethnomusicologist, Bernard B. Ellorin, will perform indigenous Mindanao kulintang, kutyapi and gabbang music, dances and rituals of five ethno-linguistic groups, such as Maranao, Manguindanao, Sama, Tausog and Yakan. The members of the dance and music ensembles aim to present the Southern Philippines’ indigenous music and dances closest to the traditional form, in the way that they have learned from noted Mindanao and Sulu Masters, such as Maguindanao Kulintang Master Danongan Kalanduyan and his brother, Kanapia; Pangalay dance practitioner and author, Bai Ligaya Fernando Amilbangsa; Magui artists – Teng Emba, Akmad Siao and Faisal Monal; and Maranao Ethnomusicologist, Dr. Usopay Cadar.
A number of the dances and rituals that will also be presented during the Pakaraguian concert are based on the research studies done by Ellorin during his visits in Mindanao, as a three-time participant, starting in 2003 of the KulArts Tribal Tours in the island. Included in the presentation are Maranao dances, Kapagapir and Kasingkil, as demonstrated at the Mindanao State University cultural workshops where the participants studied Maranao music and dance with Jallaludin Casnor and Mindaya. Presented also will be Yakan kwintang music and Paunjalay dance, learned by Ellorin from Roxas Ahadas, brother of Uwang Ahadas, the blind Yakan musician who is the recipient of Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan. Presented as well, are Tausog and Sama dances, kulintang music and folk song, Baleleng, taught by the native masters, Taalao Manandao, Salmeno Elang, Timallay Gilasti and Mahail Hajan. They were the resource persons of Ellorin’s Masters in Music thesis, Variants of Kulintangan Performance as a Major Influence of Musical Identity Among the Sama in Tawitawi, Philippines.
Showcased also during the performance is the collection of colorful, hand-crafted Mindanao native attire and props that were personally acquired by Ellorin during his tours. Collaborating with Ellorin in staging the indigenous dances and rituals, are UCLA World Culture graduate, Peter Paul De Guzman and UCSD Ethnic studies graduate, Joseph Allen Ramirez. De Guzman trained in Philippine ethnic and folk dances with the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Dance Group in the Philippines, Kultura Folk Arts in LA and with Bai Ligaya Amilbangsa. Ramirez, who is also affiliated with the Katutubo Alliance of Lumads, Lipis, Igorots, Moros, Mangyans, Aetas and Palawanons, has studied also Pangalay dance with Bai Amilbangsa and also learned Apsara Cambodian classical dancing.
The Samahan Philippine Dance Company’s principal dancers, Jhoselle Padilla, Melanie Calimlim, Mary Grace Nievera and Rowell Mateo will be performing, conventionally, dances, namely, Linggisan, Igal, Pamansak, Kapagapir, Sagayan, Pangalay, Paunjalay, Silung sa Ganding, and Kasingkil. These dance names are familiar to Philippine dance audiences because these have been interpreted and choreographed theatrically by various Filipino dance groups all over the world. For so long, the choreographed performances of the Southern Philippine dances accompanied with harsh gong beatings and unintelligible kulintang pieces have been mislabeled as the “Muslim Suite” of Philippine dance repertoire. Devotees of the religion find it irreverent that the choreographed dances and gong beats are called “Muslim” dance and music. “There is no such thing as a Muslim dance and music,” stated Master Kalanduyan during a Kulintang workshop in UCLA.
Regular members of the Kulintang music ensemble who have trained with the native Masters and have been playing with Ellorin are Eric Abutin, Chris Feraro, Mitchell Almoite, Szilvia Soprioni and Raynard Abalos. Along with Abutin and Feraro, Ellorin initially learned to play traditional Kulintang music from Master Kalanduyan, starting at a young age of twelve as a musician with Samahan Performing Arts in 1994. He went on to obtain his Bachelor of Arts in Ethnomusicology, cum laude, from UCLA and Masters in Music from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Music majoring in Ethnomusicology at UH, Manoa. He also attended classes in Philippine music, performance ensemble classes for kulintang, gangsa and rondalla music at the College of Music in the University of the Philippines. Programs of the Samahan Filipino American Performing are partly funded by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, corporate and individual sponsors.