Cultural Environment in Negros-A A +A
As I See It
Saturday, September 28, 2013
THE Negrosanons have created their own microcosm, a kind of a cultural universe with a vast society of flora and fauna dominated by the hierarchy of beings. It could be viewed from a different perspective that our cultural ancestry is not rooted in Malaysia or Indonesia. We could have been a product of the Austronesians who settled first in the highlands of Luzon and Mindanao.
This could be a hypothesis or shall we say an offshoot of our inner view of what we want for a Negros landscape based on what we know of our unwritten past. Let us go back to the days when our grandparents’ great grandparents were roaming freely in the virgin island of Buglas. The lesser divinities were worshipped, the ancestral spirits were guides, the epic heroes were models, the nature spirits were within reach and the ordinary mortals were part of the mystic civilization.
The ancestors of the Negrosanons have evolved an exceeding social view of the undomesticated world. Their lives were never aligned with the laws of mechanical universe. They treasured relationships with brother plants and sister animals. There was social cooperation and harmony with the creatures in the visible and invisible realms. Their morals were not affected by greed for wealth and power. The learned among them achieved skills for divination and became medium in the unknown and known domains.
The shamanic practices and public techniques have elevated a high degree of consciousness blending with the spirit world. The bountiful harvest based in the common sense of practical farming was organic. Health and prosperity were attained through rituals of offerings (without commercial value) and thanksgiving (without pride) to the deities. The bountiful harvest was made possible through the community effort, the early ‘bayanihan’ concept without media coverage.
The masculine and the feminine energy were in complementary union based on cosmic principle to produce greater strength. The social status was clearly established that there was the emergence of a leader who acquired exceptional talent, skill and wealth but all his blessings were shared with the village people by means of meaningful festivals of thanksgiving. The chosen leaders maintained prestige by giving counsel in times of peace and disaster. They were revered for their being non-partisan and fair in all undertakings.
Some were gifted with vital artistic expressions that they became tattoo artists. The bodies of the villagers became the medium of their artistic acumen. Some engaged in river trades (Ilog, Bago, Malogo) wherein the produce of the uplands were brought to the ‘banwa’ (flat land for commerce). There was a flourishing social interaction that our ancestors used beads for bodily embellishments. We unearthed earthen jars containing beads in the area near Hda. Adela and Hda. Bagroy. That could have been an established community or a sacred ground because funerary objects were found.
To seek high level of spirituality, some gifted ancestors tried to reach the height of becoming a ‘babaylan’ (priest). He was a ‘maaram’ (the bright one) with a gift of spiritual healing and performed rituals to counter the evil spells of the creatures of the dark -- ‘aswang’, ‘kama-kama’, ‘tamawo’. The peak for this chosen one could be his becoming a ‘daragangan’ or ‘busalian’.
I want folktales to color my research on culture. Culture is not only a way of life but it is also a product of what is provided by the environment. It exists to revisit the sources of excitement. Excitement is not a product of what you want to happen. It is what happens to you.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 28, 2013.