Datu Rodelio Waway Saway is not called tatay (father) for nothing. A teacher at the Talaandig School of Living Traditions and a well-known performing artist, Saway has been keeping the Talaandig musical heritage intact by mentoring young members of their tribe. Community artists would always go to their Tatay Waway to learn how to play and craft their indigenous musical instruments.
We use our traditional instruments to pray and connect with the divine. Playing them is like opening a portal to the spiritual world, explained Saway, who has traveled the world flaunting the Talaandigs own brand of music.
Despite the availability of tools that makes the production of bamboo musical instruments easier, there are still issues affecting the durability of the instruments. There are times our BMIs crack when brought to temperate countries. Some get infested by bukbok [powder-post beetle], he noted.
Under the leadership of the Department of Science and Technology-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI), a research and development (R&D) program is now being conducted aimed at making better-quality BMIs.
The initiative is in partnership with University of the Philippines Dilimans Center for Ethnomusicology and the Philippine Normal University. It targets to develop technologies that can help people, like Saway, and other local BMI makers and users.
We have been going around various indigenous communities [or peoples] and BMI production sites in the country to talk to key people, and understand how important BMIs are in their local culture. We want to know how we can work together with them to improve these instruments, shared Program Leader Aralyn L. Quintos.
The R&D program seeks to develop technologies that will prolong the life of bamboo, without negatively affecting the musical instruments sound quality; standardize the production of selected BMIs; develop prototype design; analyze raw material sources and existing markets; and build a BMI-processing facility.
According to Saway, long before their BMIs have been mass produced, they have been traded for other important things.
He has crafted numerous BMIs, including the pulala (lip valley notch flute), tumpuy (chip-on-ledge flute), hulagteb (side-blown flute), takumbo (parallel-stringed zither) and bantula (slit drum).
We have a lot of creative people here. The Talaandigs have been producing BMIs for a long time already, and I think we are ready for their mass production. What we lack, however, are technologies, particularly a treatment facility for bamboo, Saway explained.
Living at the foothills of the Kitanglad Mountain Ranges in Bukidnon, the Talaandigs create music reminiscent of the rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds.
The DOST-FPRDI, together with its partners, is dedicated to helping them preserve their rich musical tradition.Apple Jean C. Martin-de Leon/S&T Media Service