Council on Southeast Asia Studies
Yale University

November 5, 2012, 6:30 P.M.
Room 203, Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Avenue

>click here for directions / link to campus map


"The River of Exchange
Music of Agusan Manobo and Visayan Relations
in Caraga, Mindanao, Philippines"

discussion with Filmmaker, José S. Buenconsejo
Dean, College of Music, University of the Philippines, Diliman

In English, some Manobo and Cebuano with English subtitles
75 minutes

This is a story of the encounter and consequent cultural exchanges between inland, aboriginal Manobos and coastal, Visayan settlers in an "out-of-the-way" place in Agusan Valley, Caraga, Mindanao Island, Philippines.

It explores, in particular, the varied embodiments of this social history in traditional Manobo song and ritual and in performances of recent, Visayan-brought electronically-amplified sounds.

In Manobo ritual, spirits possess the body of the medium as a means of divination for curing, but these spirits indicate as well Manobo imaginative perceptions of their relationships with outsiders, including the Visayan spirit whose voice is incorporated in the Manobo body. With the introduction of modern cultural practices, Manobo rituals have been erased and displaced to the margins but some are altered, as in the incarnation of the Visayan spirit, to accommodate the unassailable Visayan presence that is felt in Manobo day to day life.

This spirit is addressed as a friend, a form of recognition that resonates with the Christian compadrazgo social relation.
Cultural exchanges come full circle with the performance of Manobo heritage in recent street ethnic dancing competitions with Visayans mimicking Manobos.

Whether a spirit is incarnated in these festivals or not is a moot question. The mimicry seems instead to reproduce a mere pictorial representation of heritage minus its really real links to the world.

>> Review by Antonette Adiova, University of Michigan for Asian Music