- Mangyan culture
- Library & research
- Programs & events
Mangyan Script and Poetry
26 January 2011 (Bulwagang Juan Luna, University of the Philippines Baguio)
When the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, they discovered islanders who had their own script and even women who could read and write. Eventually the conquerors identified about a dozen different scripts in the archipelago, all originating from India and related to the writing modes of their Southeast Asian neighbors. By the 19th century most Filipinos had replaced their indigenous syllabic writing system or baybayin script with the Roman alphabet of the colonizers. Due to their relative mountain isolation the Hanunuo-Mangyan of Mindoro have managed to retain this indigenous way of writing until the present day, engraving it on bamboo joints or slats with a small knife.
Out of all the regions in the Philippines and around 110 indigenous peoples groups in the country, only the Hanunuo and Buhid Mangyan, together with the Palaw-an and Tagbanwa of Palawan, have retained their original syllabary. The syllabic writing systems of these four IP groups were declared as National Cultural Treasures in 1997, and inscribed in the Memory of the World Registers of UNESCO in 1998.
(Presented by Lolita Delgado Fansler — writer, president of the Mangyan Heritage Center, Inc., and executive director of the Ala-ala Foundation. )
Looking into the Ambahan
When we look at the ambahan, the indigenous song-poetry of the Hanunuo-Mangyan of Mindoro, we look at ourselves and the inner awareness of our indigenous values. Like a kind-hearted visitor knocking before our modern, stressful living, the ambahan proposes that we go back to the wellspring of faith and values. In the ambahan world, we see an integrated eco-centric life. The symbols of the ambahan reveal that life is sufficient and sustainable. The Mangyans do not live to enrich themselves at the expense of others and the environment.
The ambahan portrays an interplay of mayad (good), urog (firm) and linong (serenity) with the threats of daot (bad), sungnan (anger) and nirmay (death). There are external forces and internal vulnerabilities that threaten society’s capacity to live. But there are eco-spiritual resources to overcome all these. Interdependent life provides. Our communal capacity to live with respect and bonding is founded in an undying faith that there is more life in life than what we experience. We see these symbolic themes and polarities as pervasive from birth to death in the ambahan. The Mangyan spirit survives because they believe.
(Presented by Restituto Pitogo — author of Nagmamagandang Loob-Po! Ang Pamana ng Ginintuang Ambahan ng mga Hanunuo Mangyan para sa Likas-Kayang Kaginhawahan ng Sambayanang Pilipino.)