Waway Saway: Hero of Talaandig

MANILA, Philippines - He is an imminent artist in indigenous communities of Mindanao, promoting his tribes music and art. Being a teacher of Talaandig School of Living Traditions in the highlands of Sungko, Lantapan, Bukidnon, he serves as a guide of the youth into a better life by means of music and art.

His early beginnings
Waway is a native son of Talaandig tribe. He belongs to the large family of Chieftain Datu Kinulintan. Waway was born into a family of seventeen. Distinct to many indigenous children of their tribe, he was given the opportunity to attain a college degree in Agriculture at the Xavier University of Cagayan de Oro. It was there that Waway realized that his calling was more than just to stay in the university. He became so eager to look for the desires of his heart and work it out.

And so it was that in the early 90s Waway joined a band of bohemian musicians. The group travelled to different places including Manila and Boracay playing different world music.

"Nakita ko na ang musikang tinutugtog namin ay kahalintulad din ng musika sa lugar kung saan ako nagmula. Nakita ko din po na maging mga palamuti ay parehas sa aming lugar. Kaya napag-isip isip ko na bumalik kung saan ako nanggaling," Waway said.

Realizing that people around him appreciated indigenous art more than he did, Waway decided he needed to go home to know his tribe more. It was there that he knew and re-learned his tribe's art, beliefs, and traditions, and found out that the Talaandig have long been fighting to reclaim their ancestral domain and cultural integrity. His brother, Datu "Vic" Migketay Saway, now the supreme chieftain of the tribe, was a prestigious leader known among indigenous networks, NGOs, and government agencies. He was instrumental in the setting up of the Talaandig School of Living Traditions (SLT). Soon word got out that this little Talaandig community led by Datu Vic Saway kept most of their artistic traditions alive through the SLT. Invitations for performances poured in, and Waway, backed up by a formidable urban experience, led the Talaandig artists to the outside world, along with Bae Magila, the tribe's dance teacher.

International voice
It wasn't till he stayed and built a family and home in Sungko that Waway's voice reached far and wide. His dedication to his tribe, color, artistry, sense of humor, and leadership made the country and his own community take notice of the simple, once-unknown musician who, like many indigenous people, barely acknowledged his indigenous roots. He became tribal chieftain of the arts. There was no going back to the city.

Grounded in his indigenous origins yet with a contemporary artistry and outlook that has brought him to Europe, USA, and everywhere in the Philippines, Waway leads a pack of young Talaandig musicians and visual artists, who often gather around his bamboo home and the adjacent workshop area to make drums, flutes and rainsticks, paint, play music, and create earthcraft jewelry, stonecrafts, and other butingtings (knicknacks).

He discovered painting with soil and clay and nature dyes in the late 90s. "Ang akong mga gitudluan mas hawod pa sa ako karon (The students I taught are now better than I am)," Waway says. Waway is known for using and popularizing soil and clay as paint material, thus accounting for the earth colors of all his paintings.

His first music CD was recorded in the heart of Mt. Kitanglad, Bukidnon's highest mountain. "Nature was my recording studio," Waway proudly confides, "and the birds, insects, and the rustling leaves were my back-up musicians." His recording equipment consisted of a walkman mini-disc recorder and a huge line-in microphone donated by a friend in Europe. In December last year, equipment made its way to his cold mountain home from a friend in Taiwan-a Christmas present. Barely two months later, Waway recorded the music of his co-Talaandig musicians and mass-produced the CDs from the new CD-dubbing machine. To date, his home studio has produced six albums of Talaandig traditional and contemporary music

His home in Sungko is also home to many outsiders, several of whom have come all the way from Europe to visit the community musician who is also a great storyteller. His stories and his amazing sense of humour drew many artists, journalists, and cultural workers to the small Talaandig community.

Headed to film
Waway is also a father of four children, with another one on the way. He is closest to Ellahi, to whom one of his music albums is dedicated. His wife, Jessica, and the kids help him with the butingtings. Ellahi and Badu entertain the visitors with their squabbles and laughter, and RJ helps in the kitchen although they are rarely home, spending time playing with neighborhood kids and swimming in the river. Except for Maya, the youngest, who is barely two years old, the other kids play the drum along with them, displaying remarkable virtuosity at such a young age.

Not content with so much talent, Waway now ambitions to make films about his community. Inspired by Moro filmmaker Teng Mangansakan who made his first three documentary films about his own community in Pagalungan, North Cotabato, Waway vows to pursue filmmaking. "His films are very simple but touching. What is wonderful about it is that the film is about his own family, his own community. Many films have been made by other people about the Talaandig. It's about time a Talaandig makes one about his own community."

Emanuel Bagual is a freshman college at UP Diliman taking up Community Development. He was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize in 2009.)

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’
    ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’

    While strong earthquakes cause tsunamis in coastal areas, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that inland areas could also be exposed to tsunami-like waves, or seiche, if located near or around bodies of water. In a recent earthquake awareness seminar in Muntinlupa, Phivolcs supervising science research specialist Joan Salcedo explained that a seiche is a large wave similar to a tsunami, triggered by strong ground shaking from an earthquake or volcanic …

  • China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations
    China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations

    China gave the Philippines a “gentle reminder” last Tuesday that Beijing will not bully small countries but warned these nations not to make trouble willfully and endlessly. “Here is a gentle reminder to the Philippines: China will not bully small countries, meanwhile, small countries shall not make trouble willfully and endlessly. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said that China would continue to build other civilian facilities on relevant maritime features in the disputed Spratly Islands …

  • Back-channel diplomacy pushed for Phl-China dispute
    Back-channel diplomacy pushed for Phl-China dispute

    The Philippines should consider backchannel diplomacy to prevent its territorial dispute with China from deteriorating further, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said yesterday. There are a lot of Filipino businessmen with businesses in China and they have friends and connections there. Let’s utilize that, ask them to talk to their friends on how we can resolve this matter peacefully,” Marcos said. …

  • Phl, Japan to deepen ties amid China sea claims
    Phl, Japan to deepen ties amid China sea claims

    Japan and the Philippines are set to bolster security ties when President Benigno Aquino visits Tokyo next week, the latest move by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to beef up cooperation with Southeast Asian nations facing China’s growing naval ambitions. The two sides will likely agree to start talks on a framework for the transfer of defense equipment and technology and to discuss a possible pact on the status of Japanese military personnel visiting the Philippines to facilitate joint training and …

  • Phl, Vietnam troops play soccer on disputed isle
    Phl, Vietnam troops play soccer on disputed isle

    Vietnamese and Philippine troops played soccer and sang karaoke on a South China Sea island yesterday in a sign of the growing security ties between the two Southeast Asian nations most at odds with Beijing over the contested waterway. Cooperation has blossomed between Hanoi and Manila since they shelved decades of enmity over their competing claims in the Spratly archipelago to try to counter China, whose creation of artificial islands in the region will allow it to project power deep into …

  • Noy swears in 50 newly appointed AFP officers
    Noy swears in 50 newly appointed AFP officers

    President Aquino administered yesterday the oath taking of 50 newly appointed generals and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a simple ceremony at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace. …

  • Taiwan’s peace call on claimants of disputed territories welcomed
    Taiwan’s peace call on claimants of disputed territories welcomed

    The US on Tuesday welcomed Taiwan’s call on all claimants to disputed shoals, reefs, rocks and islets in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea to exercise restraint, refrain from unilateral actions that could escalate tensions, as well as to respect international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. “With regard to the maritime claims and the claims to sovereignty over land features in the South China Sea, our position is that maritime claims must …

  • Metro-wide quake drill set on July 30
    Metro-wide quake drill set on July 30

    A metro-wide earthquake drill will be held on July 30 as part of the government’s preparations for a possible 7.2 magnitude tremor, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said yesterday. All private and government offices as well as businesses, including shopping malls would be closed between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. to simulate the scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has warned that an earthquake of that magnitude could occur …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options