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Street Dancing Mountain Province Philippines 13th Lang-Ay

Sunday, June 25, 2017


For first timers of the 13th Lang-Ay blog series, I humbly suggest you click on the link below first to get situated:


Bontoc Mountain Province 13th lang-Ay Festival Spectators

Long story short, here I am in the thick of photo-documenting the conduct of activities of the 13th Lang-ay (Street Dancing) Festival. “Lang-ay” by the way is a yearly fellowship of Mountain Province which is comprised of ten municipalities namely: Barlig, Bauko, Besao, Bontoc, Natonin, Paracelis, Sabangan, Sadanga, Sagada and Tadian. Lang-ay is a native term which means to celebrate the unique individuality in a confluence of the ten municipalities of Mountain Province which involves  a performance of cañao ceremony with activities involving sacrificial offering of locally produced indigenous brewed rice wine called tapuy and home-bred pigs and if by luck mountain boar and chicken are all gracefully/peacefully butchered, rice stalk harvests and prayers/incantations/invocations  to Kabunian/God is also performed.

Bontoc Mountain Province 13th lang-Ay Festival Street Dancing
The streets of Bontoc, Mountain Province is abuzz with choreographed original dance movements executed in time with the sound of ethno-indigenous gongs "Ganza" and drums "Solibao". 

"Bontoc" is derived from two morphemes "bun" (heap, pile, mound) and "tuk" (top, apex), which combined together will literally mean "mountains." The term "Bontoc" also refers to the people of the Mountain Province and the capital town itself.

In this blog, I will attempt to be more "technical" on how I describe what you see in my images which is one of the main reason I did not release immediately the blog segue since I have to dwell in meaningful research. 

To get you in the proper frame of mind and appreciation of this blog, let me start you off with a link to the Ethnicities of the Philippine Cordilleras

Bontoc Mountain Province 13th lang-Ay Festival Street Dancing in the Streets.
The Wa-kis pictured above (left side), is a belt 10 cm. wide, which is wrapped twice around a woman's waist. Generally, a Wa-kis comes with a  white weaved background and articulated with rich yellow, green, black and red woven designs. 

A  women's skirt is called the Lufid which is short and narrow and it extends from the navel to the knees with a side opening. A Hina-wa-an is a rich woman's skirt which has white strips in the middle. A Kina-yan is a poor woman's version of a skirt which is red and white made of plain weave. A Kin-ar-chago is a woman's workday skirt which is made of two strips of colored white and red weaves. A woman's skirt woven in many colors is called an Inorma

Bontoc Mountain Province 13th lang-Ay Festival Street Dancing in the Streets Tailend.
It's around 10:30 a.m. in the morning and street dancers continue to advance to their "destination" whilst very disciplined spectators watch and enjoy the show. The warm hospitality, happy vibrations, the festive atmosphere is just natural and very contagious. The big difference of Cordillera Administrative Region festivals compared to other commercialized festivals I've attended is the genuine commitment of its participants (organizers, performers, etc.) and follows the spirit of community which emanates from thdeep Bontoc pride in their kinship ties and oneness as a group (Sin-pan-gili).

Bontoc Mountain Province 13th lang-Ay Festival Street Dancing in the Streets Nearing the Finish
IMHO, this is how it's supposed to be during event documentations that having an official event I.D. is just for formalities and having no I.D. will not prevent you/anyone from executing a personal photo-documentation.

I remember in my city where the practice of event marshalls becoming the sore eyes/center of attraction of the parade since they wear orange uniforms and march in the center of every performing group. To make it worse, they have marshalls who walk on both sides of the streets which in a way make them perfect photo-bombers instead of the performers being the main stars of the event/show. So even spectators are disappointed with their photo-bombed event images. Whoever planned/committee head of a city event "festival" who comes with an overt paranoid public security overkill as executed by city marshalls/organizers should be assessed next year. Even the President of my country is very simple and he won't endorse an overkill of security detail/marshalls detailed during public festivals.

Mountain Province 13th lang-Ay Festival Street Dancing in the Streets of Bontoc

Legally, the foot where everyone stands is public domain (public streets) so no one even the Supreme Court can impose their own event rules/regulations when it comes to photography/photo-documentation using mobile cell phones, DSLRs, tablets, etc., I stand in defense to all photo enthusiasts, camera professionals who in one way or another have been discriminated by malpractices/abuse of authority by arrogant event organizers/marshalls. Personally, an event I.D. is likened to a placebo and it does not guarantee the bearer the quality of his/her photographs/images. It is quality time devoted to constant photography practice (dedication and discipline) that one can achieve his own place/niche in this profession/hobby.

Mountain Province 13th lang-Ay Festival Street Dancing in the Streets of Bontoc Under the Bridge.
The sense of natural dance rhythm is built in the subconscious of Mountain Province ethno-indigenous Lang-Ay performers/participants since this was taught and ingrained in them since they were young.   

Mountain Province 13 Lang-Ay Street Parade Way Past the Bridge

Very relaxed policeman doing his rounds on the sidewalk as young and old jovial ... dance their way ... I've been documenting "pseudo-cultural commercial celebrations" in my city for years, however, this is my first time to photo-document document the real deal, authentic celebration coming from Cordillera Regions, Lang-ay Festival being one of them. Pseudo-cultural is a term I coined which is characterized by depiction of culture in a commercialized manner where the participants (mostly students composed of elementary and high school) who are required to participate in a festival and with their own interpretation make their own costumes, choose their own music and create their own dance choreography as directed and coached by their teachers. The original identity and essence of culture/traditions passed down by Cordillera forefathers gets put in a mixed bag of modern interpretation and somewhat disregard for maintaining the continuity of original ethno-indigenous roots of e.g., dance, the weaves, the heirlooms, etc.,
We Start as a Group End as a Group Mountain Province 13th Lang-Ay Festival Street Dancing

We Start as a Group End as a Group Mountain Province 13th Lang-Ay Festival Street Dancing

Mountain Province 13th Lang-Ay Festival Street Dancing No Loading.j

Mountain Province 13th Lang-Ay Festival Street Dancing Bontoc Kid Spectators.

I temporarily went to this shade to take a short breather and enjoy the company of local Bontoc kids who were willing to be photographed. Doing this got myself body/mind energized. 
Bontoc Central School Mountain Province Cordillera Administrative Region Philippines
After the conduct of the 13th Lang-Ay Street Dancing, my photography friends and I headed to the Central School of Bontoc where all participants/performers took rest/shade.
Mountain Province Ethno Indigenous Street Dance Performers Chillin Under the Shade Behind the scenes ... Ethno-indigenous gongs ... headdress ... in silence lay on the school grounds as participants take a well deserved break.
Mountain Province ethno Indigenous Women Relax After Street DanceLull time ... to rest and prepare for the next cultural activity.
Mountain Province Ethno-Indigenous Portraits
At this juncture, it was time for candid portraitures esp. when everyone is relaxed, on his/her stress-free time. 
Colorfully adorned with beads, boars' teeth and feathers is an ethno-indigenous Mountain province cap which is also used to hold the things that men carry about, such as pipes and matches is called a Fal-laka bachelor's cap. (I intentionally put this image which is part of the afternoon cultural presentation to highlight the ethno-indigenous heirloom accessories).
Mountain Province Ethno Indigenous Bead Work

Mountain Province ethno-indigenous women don't wear necklaces, their hair is tied elaborately together with the Apong (strings of black seeds, brass-wire rings, white stone beads either pear-shaped or many-sided, reddish agate beads and dog's teeth. This particular heirloom (Apong) is what I've been searching but was not able to see one. I contented myself in documenting headwear bead works that were present. 
Mountain Province Ethno Indigenous Youth Headgear Portrait
I was comfortable using a lightweight 85mm lens so as not to intrude in personal spaces and get the shots more intimate yet physically at a distance detached.
Mountain Province Ethno-Indigenous Woman Portrait
The light was soft since we were under a shade and bounced light enabled the shots eliminating shadows.
Etho Indigenous Woman Bead Head Gear Portrait

Mountain Province Ethno Indigenous Boar Teeth Feathers
Bontoc elders wearing proudly their Fuyaya, a necklace made of boar's teeth, local plant/ weave. 

 Male wear the Fuyaya, a necklace of boar's teeth.I've photo documented ethno-indigenous wear and what we see is authentic heirloom never been seen before. Special occasions like festivals ... they are worn and presents us a down to earth view of a pride of place, culture, and traditions ... Here's an up close shot ... 

Today some males wear the Tangka/Abkil (armlets of boar-tusk).
Mountain Province Ethno Indigenous Boy Innocence of Youth Portrait
There is much hope for the future as Mountain Province vibrant youth carry the traditions and cultures passed down by their forefathers, fathers, elders. Whilst the speed of modernization takes over ...

Mountain Province Ethno-Indigenous Elder with Cloth Head Gear

Ethno Indigenous Man Cloth Headgear with Feathers Portrait Head Gear

Mountain Province Ethno-Indigenous Man with Tribal G string Colours and Hunting Implements

Mountain Province is rich in ethno-indigenous handwomen/hand-made men's traditional attire which is the G-string called Wanes. Wealthy males, however, have the Lagteb, which is a G-string of pure white thread woven and designed more elaborately than the ordinary ones.

Mountain Province Ethno Indigenous Youth Say No to Drugs
Photo opportunity on an anti-drug campaign Mountain Province style.

Mountain Province Ethno Indigenous Municipalities Presentation Afternoon Competition Proper
Next on the blog and here's a teaser shot of the afternoon activities of the 13th Lang-Ay cultural indigenous public presentations by various Mountain Province municipalities.

My first half day of Mountain Province's 13th Lang-Ay did not disappoint and actually gave me the deeper insights of what grassroots culture and traditions get celebrated through dance and music, original traditional weaves and costumes, heirlooms, and the community spirit called in their kinship ties and oneness as a group (Sin-pan-gili).

'Til my next forthcoming blog post.😎

Under The Shade Ethno-Indigenous Mountain Province Woman

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