By RESTITUTO R. PITOGO
(Note: This is the 1st part of a series of 5, of a paper by the authour presented during a lecture seies on Mangyan script and poetry at the University of the Philippines Baguio on January 26, 2011.)
We owe a depth of gratitude to those people-IP researches, advocates, scholars, teachers and students of Filipino culture—who have shared a part in the development of a liberating Filipino consciousness. As we discern to respond to a complex network of problems of society, we look for a better way to live our life, articulate our values, practice patriotism, social justice and charity to our neighbors and communities. In some way, we are learners of history; we share with others in dialogue to arrive at a more effective and sustainable effort, while developing an inclusive consciouness against what Pope John Paul II called, “culture of death” in our global and local societies.
I have been Human resource management consultant for 15 years, and an organizational development advocate for 30 years now. I can tell you that, in my emersion to corporate life and realities of employees-managers and staff alike-who trying to make a life out of their profession and skill, I believe that there is a universl anxiety that has been felt in our community. It has been too stressful to earn a living. And the more we try to reflect on our contemporary civilization, as Filipinos and as human persons, we struggle to live our priorities, in an effort to balance values with need, morality with practicality, and so forth. One issue that we have to face is a question on what choices do we have? Is a career built around self fulfilment or family enrichment really the kind of path we should choose? Are we happy to gain the comforts and convinience of today’s technology and global access? Does it matter now to cherish indigenous values where pragmatism and global culture are things that matter to most people? After all the hard work and efforts are done, we can ask: Is this worth working for?
At the turn of the 3rd Millenium, the United Nations made a target of addressing the world’s poverty by reducing it by the half come 2015. Government and international agencies on the world forums have discerned strategies and actions to make progress more beneficial to the poor, more inclusive to the marginal communities and more caring to the environment. The sustainable development inertia has not focused only on the climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, but also on having a better paradigm of development that is not exclusive for a few, not marginalizing to the many, and not dysfunctional to ecology and culture. There are values-driven developments that have proven helpful in addressing these issues. An example is the growth of people’s self-help organizations in the form of cooperatives, social entrepreneurs and informal economies.
In this context of complexities, vulnerabilities and adaptations, we continue to look for internal and external resources, developing competencies that can support us to live in a harsh, often unforgiving social arrangement. I could not imagine how the new generation would try to survive in a world where people compete for resources, power and institutions to held them fulfil their needs. To me, this reflects a major problem of how we structure our life on principles that simply displace us from our indigenous culture and values.
Of the indigenous poetry of the Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, the ambahan appears to be the most important legacy of the Hanunoo-Mangyans of Mindoro to us. Memorized and scripted in bamboos and slats using their syllabic script, the Hanunoo_Mangyans have preserved the ambahan for centuries in an archaic peotic form. Antoon Postma, a Mangyan ethnologist and expert in ambahan, collected over 20, 000 ambahans to preserve and study them. This led to the publication of his seminal book: Treasure of a Minority (1976) and the Ambahan Mangyan (1989).
Postma in his critical study of the ambahans provides us the formal definition of the ambahan as a literary form of indigenous art. He says that the ambahan is “a set of impressions, with a measured rhyme of seven syllables; having rhyming end-syllables; vocalized as a change without a definite melody or too much melodic variation; without the accompaniment of musical instruments; recited for the purpose of verbalizing in a metaphorical way certain human situations or characteristics with the possible challenge of a matching answer in dialogue-fashion in the presence of an interested audience of various size.”
This definition emphasizes not only the aesthetic character of the ambahan but also the social function of the ambahan. It is this direction that I would like to describe the ambahan, as symbolic expression and articulation of the Hanunoo-Mangyan worldview. # www.nordis.net
End of Part I