Storytelling is something that I have not done in the Philippines. I did have speaking engagements related to my job as an educator and community development worker from 1985 to 2000. I talked about leadership development, women’s issues, enterprise development, community development, and anything about the development of communities and organizing people. But storytelling? It was not my cup of tea. Or so I thought.
When I went to Los Angeles, California in 2002, I was invited by Zen Lopez to give a presentation. Why not? That was easy. All I had to do was to make a collage of my writings. I had been researching about Igorot folktales as part of my job with Igorota Foundation, Inc in 1998. I even wrote a story and an article about storytelling when I was the Executive Director of Women's Access, Inc. I just had to put on my costume and present.
I realized that highlighting my indigenous culture was empowering as it defined my identity. It actually gave me leverage as other people found my topic interesting. Something ethnic. Something exotic. I did not revel on these labels, because being ethnic and exotic were some sort of a fad, people in the west were crazy about. But I found an opportunity to talk about my own culture. I recognized that that the customs and traditions of the indigenous peoples in the Cordilleras of the Northern Philippines were radically changing with modernization and getting distorted with the effects of commercialization and miseducation. The good values and the organic integrity of the Igorot people must be put forth so that their good images would be viewed with dignity and respect. With that in mind, I agreed to do a presentation in my own way, as follows:
Storytelling Presentation [excerpt]
Pacific Asia Museum
46 N. Robles Avenue Pasadena,
May 19 2002
..Story telling for Igorots in the Northern Philippines is an art, and it is for life. They are vibrant colorful strands that continue to weave our culture. It is an age-old art, chanted in private or sacred moments, in a given time in life or in death.
Igorot folktales had always been creatively told. It is like a traditional fine woven tapestry, where the basic strands dominate the fabric but different threads intertwine to make up the design and enhance the overall appearance. Traditional storytellers, just like the weavers, highlight the basic story with their personal tales, anecdotes, and allegories.
As a covenant to my culture, I dared to try the art of story telling. It is then my hope that this story serves its purpose, which is to link the past, not only to the present, but also to the future.
This morning, I would like to tell you the story of the KAYABANG BASKET, which I entitled, THE LOVE BASKET. This story is intended to showcase the value of the vanishing culture of the Igorots.
The KAYABANG is a simple handcrafted bamboo basket. Humble maybe, but it is a cultural symbol of an indigenous tribe. It highlights their heritage, values, and lives.
[The story of The Kayabang Love Basket will be published in another page]
Thank you very much for this opportunity to tell my story. As an ending, I would like you to hear how stories are told in the traditional Igorot way.
[Audio sound from my father’s (Lucien Gomeyac, Sr.) flute (kalaleng) and his Igorot chant (day-eng) was played.] after this presentation, I was approached by Ms. Connie Longno-Zamora, curator, Glendale Central Library to write about my piece and invited me to do another presentation in Glendale. The featured artists: Mat Relox, Rafael Maniago, Bill Bon expressed their intention to do Igorota images.
Animated story telling
Igorot dance: Pureza Egmalis with Hospicio Dulnuan