Book of Mangyan poetry launched in Washington
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Philippines-focused civic groups on Sept.19 held the first overseas launch of Bamboo Whispers, Poetry of the Mangyan, at the Philippine Embassy Chancery Annex.
Sentro Rizal Washington DC, US-Philippines Society and Mangyan Heritage Center jointly hosted “Bamboo Whispers: A Peek into the Filipino Soul” to launch the book.
Mangyan is a collective name of eight indigenous ethnic groups living in Mindoro island, Philippines. Among these eight groups are the Hanunuo and Buhid Mangyan, who are still practicing a pre-Spanish syllabic writing system known as the “Mangyan Scripts,” which have been declared National Cultural Treasures in 1997 and were officially inscribed in the Memory of the World Register of UNESCO in 1999.
One of the literary products of the Mangyan Scripts is the “Ambahan” or the traditional poetry of the Hanunuo Mangyan. It is usually carved on bamboo and often reflects their everyday thoughts and feelings about life.
Lolita Delgado Fansler, co-editor of Bamboo Whispers and President of the Mangyan Heritage Center, gave an informative lecture on Mangyan culture, languages, and tradition which included photos of ambahan bamboo inscriptions, Mangyan handicraft, and the chanting of ambahan poetry to the delight of the audience.
“This is why I am passionate to show Filipinos, Americans, even the world, represented here today that we have these precious, living, cultural treasures: poetry composed by indigenous people, written in a pre-Hispanic script still being used today,” said Delgado-Fansler, emphasizing the Mangyan Heritage Center’s mission “to keep the culture thriving.”
“Bamboo Whispers is our attempt at documenting a magnificent Filipino heritage in its original Mangyan language, and the three official languages in our country’s history: Spanish, English, and Filipino,” Delgado-Fansler further said.
“I hope that you will agree with me when I say that as Filipinos, we have the responsibility to preserve and promote our indigenous cultures. These cultures are unique treasures that separate us from other countries, and make up the very soul of the Filipino,” said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez as he welcomed guests to the event.
A Q&A session followed Delgado-Fansler’s lecture.
Members of the audience, including Dr. David Turner, Embassy Public Diplomacy Officer Darell Artates, Gerald Gloria, and US-Philippines Society President Ambassador John Maisto, also had the pleasure of reading ambahan poetry to the audience in English, Filipino, Mangyan Chant, and Spanish languages, respectively.
“I am pleased to note the contribution of American anthropologists and Peace Corps volunteers in researching and helping to preserve Mangyan poetry. A special thanks to all those from outside Washington who made the trip to attend this rich and highly informative program,” Maisto concluded.
The book, “Bamboo Whispers” featuring the best 100 Mangyan Poetry in two scripts and four languages, with the translations into Filipino, English and Spanish by various poets received the 2018 Gintong Aklat or Golden Book Award in the arts and humanities category on 13 September 2018 in the Philippines.