Pictured here are me and my younger sister Mary Grace Nievera. Photo credit: Joal Pike. Taken at Cholula Hall at San Diego State University.
We are excited to present The Meet the Ensemble Series, introducing you to the cast and characters that keep traditional folk arts alive and well in our community. You’ll get to know the Samahan dancers, such as Reina Chong and Jelynn Sophia Rodriguez. They started dancing together in Samahan at age 9 and have made a lifelong commitment to the arts. I will be also interviewing some of the founding members of PKE, like Mary Talusan and Eleanor Lipat, to learn more about why PKE holds a special place in their hearts.
If you ever wondered who is behind the blog, the day has come for you to find out. My name is Andrea and I’m a long time friend of Bernard’s. This blog started as a modest effort to share his research in the Philippines. He has travelled to PI and studied amongst the Kulintang masters themselves. He’s presented his research at ethnomusicology conferences around the world.
I am Filipino-American – Kalinga (father’s side) and Waray (mother’s) – and though I’m not a musician, dancer or ethnomusicologist, I do love the arts and appreciate my heritage. Mary Grace is my younger sister and since 1996 I’ve been a stage mom of sorts, shuttling her to Samahan practice on the rare occasion there was no carpool available and scurrying backstage during rehearsals and productions. I’ve had a soft spot for gong-chime music since I was a kid. My family was once a very active member in BIBAK and the sight and sound of my uncles playing gongs are among my fondest and earliest childhood memories.
When I learned that Bernard played gong-chime music and brilliantly at that, I was floored. Playing gongs were a talent reserved for my father’s generation or older.
I support Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble because the work they do speaks volumes not only about the rich history of the Philippines but of how deeply they respect our ancestry. PKE aims to educate the public on the history of Kulintang, dispel the myth that Kulintang is part of the “Muslim suite” and – through research, practice and presentation – preserve this ancient tradition.
For more information about BIBAK please go to their website. (You can expect more information about my own experience with BIBAK in subsequent posts.)