Monday, May 29, 2017

Rediscovering Lost Culture and Art - Pride of a People and Nation

Dedicated to the memory of Mr Bonifacio Rafanan (c.1956), my teacher in history and social science in high school at Divine Word College (Colegio de la Imaculada Concepcion) in Vigan Ilocos Sur. 
 “My dad taught me from my youngest childhood memories through these connections with aboriginal and tribal people that you must always protect people's sacred status, regardless of the past.” Steve Irwin

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Homogenization, like a giant pool, mirrors a phenomenon which is a consequence of progress - globalization.


Headgear is ethnic art and status symbol among the Igorots.


Globalization is irreversible. But is it really progression? If it is trend of progress where will it lead us to? To what extent, and for how long? The believers of this thesis are disciples of science and technology, and therefore are not afraid to open new horizons. They seldom look behind.

The traditionalists look at things differently. They have deeper roots in history and culture, they find time to ponder and analyze, and ask others and themselves, “Quo vadis?” But don’t get me wrong as anti progress, anti technology.

Globalization is like a cauldron in which diversities of culture are thrown into. They dissolve in our very eyes. Either they disappear or lose their identity.

Clearly there is homogenization of races, creeds, ideologies - technology. For example there is only one kind of car in the world – they all work of the principle of Internal Combustion. Formal education has generally of one pattern worldwide, from preparatory to post graduate; so with the various courses offered.
Ethnicity encompasses many aspects of life and culture; other the humanities are the natural sciences, ethnobotany among them (the study of the relationship of people and plants in a natural setting.). 
Ethnic wooden art in the Cordillera

From here evolved the knowledge of man in pharmacology, and while such knowledge has vastly grown into a major industry dominated by multinational companies, a great deal of herbal healing still abound in rural communities.

Folk wisdom akin to traditional knowledge is carried onto the present by elder members of the community has lost much significance in general perception, but a great number of them are enshrined by our culture and writings. They are natural leaders whose words are listened to with respect. Why village elders have also the role of an herbolario, matchmakers in marriages, teachers in their own right based on rich experiences and long practice!

Confucian teachings permeate in the family. Christian values are reinforced by age-long heritage, and vice versa. So with the teachings of Buddha and Mohammad, and other great religious leaders. Mythology, too, has deep rooted influence in our lives. It lives in our superstitious belief, folklore and customs. But many of these are being threatened, if not endangered, in our march toward progress and affluence, along with the current of postmodernism which is sweeping the world today.

On the other hand, there is growing consciousness for moderation in living. More and more people are looking for alternatives of the so-called Good Life.

One alternative is the revival of tradition, a rediscovery of lost culture and art can be enshrined in our present life.

1. Revival of ethno medicinal healing has suddenly found relevance where the dangers of modern medicine are perceived. Lagundi, Oregano, Sambong are now DOH-approved How about the bulk of herbal medicine?

Home child delivery assisted by a village "kumadrona" 


2. It’s the cold wind from the north that came too soon that caused poor rice harvest. Old folks would tell us. And scientists confirm that pollination-fertilization is indeed adversely affected by cold weather.

 Revival of Pottery: art and livelihood, environment friendly. Sudipen, La Union

3. Pet therapy is gaining popularity even in modern hospitals. Victims of stroke who lost coordination of their hands surprisingly recover with a pet around.

4. Honeybee sting sends arthritic people back on the road.
5. Return to cotton, ramie, abaca, flax, and other natural fibers for clothing and other wears is indicative of people's awareness on the comfort and health
benefits of these natural fibers, not to mention their being environment friendly.

A tribal community sketch 

5. Ethnic art  is gaining popularity in galleries and studios. Native arts are found on murals and in halls. The revival of ethnic art is very visible among the aborigines of Australia, the American Indians, the Incas and Aztecs. So with other indigenous cultures.


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We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community - and this nation. - Cesar Chavez
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