R E S C H E D U L E D
Last year, my photography colleague and founder of Mukha Ng Baguio, (MnB) Pogz, myself and MnB colleagues attempted a Mukha ng Cordillera cultural photo-documentation of the Lang-ay Festival and was met with lots of unforeseen circumstances, conflicts of schedule, and the untimely demise of Mountain Province‘s Honorable Governor Leonard Mayaen on March 31, 2016, prompted the organizers of the Lang-ay Festival to reconsider the schedule of events in the province’s festival for 2017. This is one of my journeys to the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) which is not undertaken solo. I remember way back when I was working with the government NEDA-CAR and DTI-CAR that I frequent CAR (Abra, Benguet, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Kalinga and Apayao) but strictly on a business affair and I was not into photography. Little did I know that I was somewhat pre-destined to photo-document these culture-rich destinations.
S I D E S C E N E S
January this year, we at MnB
were in a must do it or we’re still just writing on water planning scenario. Time is our friend and when everything got whittled down and ended up with a six man and 1 woman photo-documentation team composed of a full-time journalist (Harley), two full-time professional photographers (Ric & Elicon), a full-time businessmen (Pogz) and his staff (Victor), a full-time driver (Remm), and myself who all traveled in a van for a one night weekend to Bontoc, Mountain Province
. We left Baguio City
very early Saturday morning and around 5:40 a.m (Ric) declared a mandatory alkaline drain pitstop or pee-stop for all the guys. It was also a perfect side scene opportunity to test our acclimatized DSLR cameras.
Morning dawn was in its forward tic tac uninterrupted motions whilst we were all physically on the road. There was no vehicle traffic and as if we had the whole road all to ourselves to enjoy. The soliloquy talkative side of me kept mumbling that I take calculated underexposed images and I took the risk. I trusted my gut feel avoided middle exposure the shot right the skylight would not turn out right. The risks paid off and I was able to come up with this image dubbed “Man Dawn” which is the interplay of single human element leading lines of water PVC tubings/pipings, landscape, and hazy atmosphere and most importantly nature’s ambient light.
Speaking of light which got me to this another image dubbed “Morning Has Broken at Besao“. To be more exact that was at Besao-Panabungen Road, Mountain Province where we stopped. A well spent time on a side scene.
A R R I V A L
Saturday at 8:07 a.m. we took a quick stop and thanks to the courtesy and hospitality of his Honorable Governor Bonifacio Calde Lacwasan Jr.
who sponsored the breakfast at the “the Mansion
” to all journalists/media covering the Lang-ay. Harley’s foresight makes him a gifted psychic for predicting the outcomes that having breakfast at the Local Gov’t Unit (LGU) dig was faster rather than waiting for breakfast at the hotel we checked in. I also made sure that I got started first with a hot drink of locally home brewed caffeine-rich black coffee and that kept me wide awake. The festive colored tarpaulin banner left me surprised to know that there are many hidden travel destinations which are awaiting to be discovered here in the Mountain Provinces
- Lake Tufob (Charol, Barlig);
- Layaan Burial Cave (Poblacion, Bauko);
- Besao Sunset (Kin-iway, Besao);
- Kaman-Utek (Balili, Bontoc);
- Tonglayan Rice Terraces (Tonglayan, Natonin);
- Mabarotbot “Bubbling Mud” (Bantay, Paracelis);
- Dagiwdiw Rice Terraces (Poblacion, Sabangan);
- Anabel Rice Terraces (Anabel, Sadanga);
- Sumaguing Cave (Suyo, Sagada); and
- Gawaan Lake (Besao, Tadian).
Time was of the essence and I and my buddies got to the nearest hotel and left our pieces of baggage and instantly freshened up. Good photography habits develop throughout time and that I and my photographer companions informally and naturally take seriously Behind-the-Scenes images especially pre-parade images where the participants are in assembly, relaxed mode, no sweating and adrenalin induced scenes yet. Just all being them ready for candid or posed shots.
W O R D U P
“Lang-ay” by the way is a yearly fellowship of Mountain Province which is comprised of ten municipalities namely: Barlig, Bauko, Besao, Bontoc, Natonin, Paracelis, Sabangan, Sadanga, Sagada and Tadian.
Lang-ay is a native term which means to celebrate the unique individuality in a confluence of the ten municipalities of Mountain Province which involves a performance of cañao ceremony with activities involving sacrificial offering of locally produced indigenous brewed rice wine called tapuy and home-bred pigs and if by luck mountain boar and chicken are all gracefully/peacefully butchered, rice stalk harvests and prayers/incantations/invocations to Kabunian/God is also performed.
P R E – P A R A D E
Anyone can instantly absorb and sense the tone and positive vibrations of the morning’s Lang-ay festival with all of these young and exuberant and excited Lang-Ay 2017 Cultural Parade participants kidding around, light moments with their peers.
The waiting game is like being inside an eye of a storm. Lang-ay is steeped with the high regard to universal human virtues in its traditional homegrown ways which include respect, hospitality, generosity, unity, camaraderie. This year’s Lang-Ay 2017 Festival highlights the remembrance of its warring past, situating the peaceful present and fostering the cultural integrity of Mountain Province for incoming generations and the blessings and abundance of the future.
Rice stalks in rice woven rice baskets signify big yield, abundance, bountiful blessings … One basket…two baskets … three baskets full of golden rice harvest… All which are ready for the cultural parade.
Click! My camera locked its focus as I took the images. She’s (one of the Mt. Province Lang-Ay youth street dance/parade performers) who was kinda shy at first but with kindness and respect plus “suggestive coaching”, I got the shots. Her friends also gave approval. The subtle part here is to focus on is what they are wearing … the colors of hand woven tapis cloth and their demeanor.
.. An honest to goodness, down to earth cultural indigenous Filipino pride.
Here’s a more random of harvested rice stalks and Mountain Province weaves. Walking barefoot is a natural cultural practice.
I’ve been documenting “pseudo-cultural commercial celebrations” in our city for years, however, this is my first time to photo-document document the real deal, authentic celebration coming from Cordillera Regions. The first was with La Trinidad Benguet’s Strawberry Festivals and also my first personal photo documenting with the Philippines Travel Destination Street Dancing Festival 13th Lang-Ay Bontoc, Mountain Province, Cordillera Administrative Region.
Proof to the satisfaction of eating a pudding is that the cultural parade has not yet started and the participant’s smiles are very warm and guaranteed to melt the heart. This makes Lang-ay one of the difference amongst other festivals.
I was informed by a lady Bontoc local lady who is an expert and who supervised almost all Lang-Ay Festivals is that, the Mountain Province municipalities bring forth to the annual festival their unique newness in many aspects – performances, choreography, teamwork, strength, unity, cooperation, etc. This dedication and commitment from the participating municipalities can be felt and seen by festival guests, tourists, visitors, and community as a whole.
Unseen and one of a kind cultural heirlooms or native embellishments come out for display as a pride of culture. Snake cartilages, boar tusks, wild animal fangs, hundred-year-old hand woven cloth (G-strings, tapis) headdress, woven bags “pasiking”, gangsa/gongs, with human skeleton parts holders, wooden drums or solibao, etc., ….. handmade tribal weapons … shields, spears, battle axes, swords, etc.,
I was surprised that there exists minimalism in indigenous cultural festivals as I paid more attention to what is being presented to my mind’s eye. I did not over analyze but I just made the composition with my camera. No struggle. Here’s a version of a “Footloose extract”
C U L T U R E P R I D E P A R A D E
The confluence of Mountain Province’s diverse culture, traditions takes center stage in a grand street parade at Bontoc with the only rhythmic music of the danceable beat of the gangsa “gong” and solibao.
Playing with shadows as abstract image expressions
I just did not have the luxury of time to change to a more wide angle (11-16mm). I didn’t budge and glued to the use of 18-35mm lens with my DX format camera. The dynamic nature of parades characterized as very fast changing and so I just focused my mind to capture with composition as i moved along with it.
Street Parade/Performances (street dance, floats, etc.,) require all your physical senses working well on a right here right now demand. I don’t wear earphones with MP3s that distracts my focus and one might get an accident taking images of incoming street dance/parade traffic. As Lang-ay presents indigenous and real deal sharp pointed spears, razor sharp axes, swords, the knives being held by the participants and the probability of getting hit with these implements are high when one’s hearing is engaged with music or if your gear gets hit or both you and your gear, it’s a bloody mess. Sometimes, fatal even and it might cost one his/her life. Always stay within safe shooting distance from the performers.
Shoot – Transition and Move. Don’t hug the “frame” as other photographers are also taking photos at your back. Be considerate for other shooters. Shoot confidently and fast. More tips coming your way. Keep posted.
Highlights of the upcoming Part 2/2 (in the works) of Philippines Travel Destination Street Dancing Festival 13th Lang-Ay Bontoc, Mountain Province :
> The After Parade Behind the Scenes;
> Afternoon Public Cultural Indigenous Presentations; and
> 100 Gongs Evening Celebrations.