In the celebration of the National Arts Month in February 2017, the University of the Philippines Diliman recuperates the kuwentong bayan (folk narratives such as epics, myths, legends, folk tales, etc.) as important repository of ideas, information and even knowledge through a festival billed Salaysayan: K’wentong Bayan, Kaalamang Bayan.
An oral tradition, kuwentong bayan is a narrative told from one generation to another during community ceremonies, rituals, and in everyday conversation and story-telling among a group of individuals. These are organized stories, which are often used to explain some aspects of traditions, norms and even histories. In folklore studies, the kuwentong bayan are means of artistic communications in small groups.
Composed of 7,107 islands and diverse ethno-linguistic communities, the Philippines is a repository of many kuwentong bayan, often revealing valuable information and insights about the different Philippine communities. Today, kuwentong bayan are not carefully given attention by the younger generation because they are often used as opposing features of modernity. At the same time, the hyper-reality of today’s generation paved the way for these kuwentong bayan to be categorized as superstition and often are attributed as fallacious narratives about the modern world.
However, kuwentong bayan foster a shared set of perspectives, values and histories. Through these communal tales, community members become connected to one another, to their ancestors, to their natural world, and to the larger society. In many instances, through the universal themes of these kuwentong bayan, a community may be connected to other cultures.
These narratives also give meaning to life. Our epics transcend our common life into a world in which our pre-colonial gods interact with us – humans, and therefore we start believing that our daily actions are part of the grand schemes delegated by our gods. In our difficulties, the pain is more bearable because we believe that the trials have meaning; we are suffering for a bigger cause rather than being battered randomly.
These kuwentong bayan such as myths, legends and even our epics explain the unexplainable. They reveal our fate after death, and the reasons for crises or miracles, and other puzzlements. Yet they retain and even encourage an aura of mystery. These narratives are also useful for the understanding of the natural world.
Many kuwentong Bayan offer role models. In this day and age, the younger generation pattern themselves after heroes from comic books such as Superman and Wonder Woman. However, these comic book characters are also products of the imaginative realm of the k’wentong bayan: prior to these well loved popular characters, community members can find role models, in the stories of the epics and legends the strength, persistence, and courage of the different characters.
Here are the various events to look forward to:
Seremonya ng Pagbubukas: Kwentong Bayan, Kaalamang Bayan (1 February 2017, 6 pm, Lagoon area in front of Faculty Center), dramatic interpretation of the Tagalog legend: Alamat ng Pilipinas. The opening ceremony also serves as the launching of the Sansinukob, installation art exhibit along the driveway to Tres Marias and the UP Lagoon depicting five Philippine creation stories about the origin of the universe.
Sansinukob: Isang Installation na Eksibit (1-28 February 2017, UP Lagoon area and UPD CMC Hill). The exhibit will feature seven visual artists from UP Diliman (Junyee, Gerry Leonardo, Rita Gudiño, Anton del Castillo, Leo Abaya, Leeroy New and Reg Yuson) depicting Philippine stories about the origin of the sansinukob (universe). The exhibit is a glimpse of the ethno-astrology and ancient cosmology of Philippine cultures. Free and open to the public.
Himigsikan: Mga Kwentong Bayan at Musika (10 and 24 February 2017, 6 pm, UP Carillon), a night of music featuring songs based on and inspired by Philippine folk narratives. This year’s Himigsikan features Noel Cabangon and Bayang Barrios. This is free and open to the public.
Sita & Rama: Papet Ramayana (18 and 19 February 2017, 10 and 3 pm, Institute of Biology Auditorium), puppet retelling of the Ramayana. (Tickets at Php 200.00 regular; Php 150 for students / senior citizens with ID. Available at UPD OICA.)
Si Faust at ang Dalumat ng Kasamaan: Isang Adaptasyon ng Akda ni Goethe (15 February – 8 March 2017, Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater), inquiry into the relationship of religion andk’wentong bayan, featuring Dulaang UP under the direction of José Estrella and adaptation by playwright Rody Vera.
Ang Unang Aswang ni Rody Vera (25 and 26 February 2017 and 4 and 5 March 2017, 7 pm, Arki Amphitheater), dance-movement piece of the award-winning play Ang Unang Aswang by Rody Vera and interpreted by the critically acclaimed UP Dance Company. (Tickets at Php 200.00 regular; Php 150 for students / senior citizens with ID. Available at UPD OICA.)
Pambansang Sampaksaan ng K’wentong Bayan (23 February 2017, UP NISMED Auditorium), the academic component of the festival featuring a multi-modal and cross-disciplinal discussion s on the significance of the k’wentong bayan in the present. The conference also includes a workshop seeion on teaching k’wentong bayan in the K-12 curricula. The symposium is free but pre-registration is required (deadline is on February 13): https://docs.google.com/a/up.edu.ph/forms/d/1XfeDMfXAhfPN33OGqxi5d1mm_QhuVS3Dvv5ELnpEoOQ/viewform?ts=585a42dc&edit_requested=true
K’wentong Bayan sa Pelikula (7 – 9 February 2017, UP Cine Adarna, 5 and 7 pm), featuring contemporary films about k’wentong bayan such as Tuos, Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa, Hinalawud, Panggagahasa kay Fe, Dreamweavers and Ploning. Admission to this mini-film festival is free, but control tickets have to be presented. (Control tickets available at UPD OICA.)
Seremonya ng Pagwawakas: Hanggang sa Susunod na Kabanata (28 February 2017, 6 pm, UP Theater), Philippine myths, legends, folktales and epics in concert. Free and open to the public.
Part of the celebration is an art-walking tour coined as Pasyal Diliman where visitors are invited to experience the arts and cultural landscapes of the campus. The tour is also a wonderful opportunity to encounter UP Diliman as an important cultural heritage of the country. We can also arrange a meet-and-greet encounter with our world-class artists and/or important cultural workers. A unique artistic and educational experience in the sole national university for three to four hours, the tour is priced at only two hundred (Php 200.00) per head (minimum of 30 participants). To meet a UPD artist and learn from his or her craft, add one hundred pesos (Php 100.00) to the regular ticket price. For a group of ten to twenty, price per head is three hundred pesos (Php 300.00).
For tickets and inquiries, contact Joshua Ceasar Chan at 0917 677 5141 / firstname.lastname@example.org; call UP Diliman OICA (3/F UP Theater) at 981 8500 local 2659. Like the UP Diliman Month at https://www.facebook.com/UPDilimanMonth/