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Founder’s Reflections

I had a chance recently to speak with founder Bernard Ellorin regarding Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble and his commitment to ethnomusicology.

In his own words, a brief overview of his scholarly background in ethnomusicology and his reflections on Pakaraguian thus far.

From 2001-2003, I did my undergraduate coursework in ethnomusicology at UCLA at the School of the Arts and Architecture. It was there that I connected with the LA members. At the time, Mary and Eleanor were PHD students who also previously studied under Danny Kalanduyan. Nickki and Peter were world arts and cultures majors working on their bachelors; both of them had background in Philippine dance and were looking for more resources on traditional kulintang music from Mindanao and Sulu. We collectively decided to form Pakaraguian after numerous invites to do gigs around the LA area. Some of those gigs include classroom lectures at UCLA’s ethnomusicology department, community performances in Historic Filipino Town in Los Angeles, and festivals like FPAC and performances at the John Ford Amphitheater.

I moved to Hawaii 3 years later in 2006 to pursue my Masters and PhD in ethnomusicology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. My adviser Ricardo Trimillos, one of the leading Philippine ethnomusicology scholars in the United States, helped mold my scholarly outlook on my fieldwork studies and my involvement in community performances. Finding other scholars just as passionate about Philippine cultural arts and related southeast Asian Traditions with the intention of performing it with integrity and respect, I encountered Wayland Quintero and Desiree Seguritan Quintero, Mayco Santaella, David Langfelder Leila Laguindo and Usopay Cadar; we formed the Mahalohalo Ensemble in 2008. Similarly to what happened in Los Angeles, Mahalohalo was also an in-demand group for performances on the UH Manoa campus and outside of the community. We were unique because many people had no idea that this musical genre existed in the Philippines.

From 2008-2011, Mahalohalo made tenacious efforts to establish an awareness of gong row traditions in the southern Philippines and maritime southeast Asia in Honolulu and other neighboring Hawaiian Islands. Mahalohalo has since then expanded to performing in the region with its members conducting their graduate studies in Malaysia and the Philippines.

Looking back over the last 10 years with Pakaraguian, all the members have grown individually and have developed a unique talent that most Fil-ams in San Diego in our generation are unfamiliar with as well. Eventually, I’d like to start outreaching Pakaraguian to communities outside of the Fil-Am performing arts scene and start conducting more academic workshops. As a future goal and aspiration, the Ensemble needs to conduct its own fieldwork study and perform for the natives in Mindanao and Sulu to ensure that we’re accurately representing the ethnic minorities.

Thank you for your time, Bernard!

Pictured below is Bernard with the ensemble. Photo Credit: the late Ernie Pena

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Stay tuned as we will be interviewing more of the founding members of Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble – Mary Talusan Lancanlale, Nickki Martin-Lustre, and Eleanor Lipat-Chesler

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