Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Reeds Speak

GRACIOUS PRESIDENT of Mangyan Heritage Center Lolita Delgado Fansler, on her recent trip to the US, asked me if I could promote the book Bamboo Whispers in this blog, and I am only happy to oblige as it has been the plan all along, and is long overdue. A collection of 100 Hanunuo ambahan poems originally written on bamboo reeds in surat Mangyan, a pre-Hispanic syllabic script which is also translated in Tagalog, English and Spanish, the book showcases the pristine sensibility of this forgotten group of indigenous people of Mindoro. The blurb supplied by Executive Director Emily Catapang, who led the publication of the revised version of A Primer to Mangyan Script, summarizes the essence of the book, which is available for purchase worldwide through the center's website. (They are planning launches at the Philippine Embassies in Washington, DC and New York City this year, hopefully with the help of The Asia Society.) For an introduction to ambahan, read the late Dutch missionary Antoon Postma's articles in Asian Studies and Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society. Which brings back a lot of memories. Growing up in Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro, my family had a 17-hectare or so farm on the hills of Barangay Safa, Sabang from where one of our Taubuid taos named Pani would come to town on Sundays to bring us red morado plantains and crayfish from Pula River (the aligi enormous beneath their carapaces), and dew-heavy fern fiddleheads wrapped in banana leaves, to report if they were doing sulib, dulok or pukan--mountain dialect that refers to various stages in the kaingin work. Ms. Fansler's haunting ambahan quote from the reeds beckons to the expatriate:

                                                 "You were once passing this way
                                                 It's not long since you've been here
                                                 Your footprints are still around..."

MHC President Lolita Delgado Fansler

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