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Book of Mangyan poetry launched in Washington

/ 11:45 PM September 21, 2018

Lolita Delgado Fansler (standing, right) engages the audience at a post-lecture discussion on the Philippine Mangyan tradition and the book “Bamboo Whispers.” CONTRIBUTED

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.

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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.

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Members of the audience check out original Mangyan handicraft and copies of the book “Bamboo Whispers.” CONTRIBUTED

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.

Left to right, US-Philippines Society President Ambassador John F. Maisto; Mangyan Heritage Center President Lolita Delgado Fansler; Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel G. Romualdez; and US-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson at the Philippine Embassy Chancery Annex on 19 September 2018. CONTRIBUTED

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.

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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.

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TAGS: ambahan, Bamboo Whispers, Filipino ethnic culture, Lolita Delgado-Fansler, Mangyan chant, Mangyan Heritage Center, Mangyan poetry, Mangyan script, Poetry of the Mangyan, prehispanic language, Sentro Rizal Washington DC, US-Philippines Society
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