OUR memorable journey to Mindanao started days before our plane touched down the runway of the Davao airport. It was a most anticipated event considering that many of our group have not been to places beyond Luzon island. The delegation of Baguio artists who arrived in three batches were greeted by Daryl De Leon Descallar, one of the five lead convener of the artists exchange in Mindanao.
Our group composed of myself, Maricar Docyogen, Carl Taawan, JJ Landingin, Jherwin Libatique, Tor Sagud, Gerald Magic Asbucan, Alma Evita Maniago, Racquel Diokno, Florenda Pedro, Alex Musni with his father Jesus, Lito Mallagay, Abigail Matib, Oliver Abuan, Marlou Naoy and Apollo Docyogen were practically accommodated and dined in all the five day encounter.
Alex Pastrana's presence in our activities who despite his handicap of having no arms and legs was also a great accomplishment of our group being his first time to leave home, travel on a plane and exhibit two of his paintings.
The last time that I was in Mindanao was twenty years ago in 1997 when I joined the Cordillera delegates in an observation tour on the governance of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao when Nur Misuari was the Regional Governor.
The Cordillera-Mindanao Art Exchange is one of the highlights of the Visit Davao Fun Sale summer activities that highlight culture and the varied arts. Our event in RP's once called promised land is Davao City’s VDFS Art Mindanao with exhibits, art sessions and art collaborations such as the Dabawenya Alla Prima or on-the-spot painting of Davao beauty queen.
The opening program of the art exhibit at the SM Ecoland Atrium was the biggest of the summer activities as it is where we rocked the place with the resounding rhythm of Cordillera gongs and solibao. After the exchange of tokens symbolizing cultural unity with Mindanaoan cultural group, we performed various dances representing the upland provinces of luzon. Our performances were likewise followed by the beating of kulintangs and cultural dances by our counterparts. It was truly a well attended gathering and I heard applauses when I did the courtship dance mimicking a wild fowl. Maricar and I also did the Bontoc Boggie and It was the last time that I really swayed my hip like a duck. Florenda or Dumay recited a poem and performed an interpretative dance on women sexuality and Carl narrated the rice culture of the upland people of the mountain provinces
We joined the local artists of Davao for a collaborative art event at the Davao People's Park and we were also met by Kidlat Tahimik's youngest son Kabunian De Guia who said he is now based in nearby Samal island with his wife Malaya and children.
We also visited the exhibit tagged as Merging Currents which is art exhibit showcasing local artistry at the Matina Town Square.
We were also privileged to have met Dr. Jonathan Bayogan during our show with FB friends and others from Baguio and Cordillera during our performance. Manong Jon is the 3rd Davao del Norte State College President and Officer-in- Charge of the Southern Mindanao Agriculture Resources. He also graciously served as our driver when we had dinner at my cousin Valentin Pioaoan's place near the airport.
As Daryl mentioned during our initial briefing, their group's name "Tabula rasa" is derived from a theory that at birth, human's mind is likened to a "blank slate" without any information whatsoever. I then followed and injected the idea that our encounter might be having a eureka effect which is to expect the unexpected. True enough, our Cordillera Mindanao Art Exchange opened a lot of possibilities such as the revival of the once vibrant art and culture interactions among Filipino artists in Baguio to include other art disciplines like theater, dance, music, visual arts, cinema, literature and even architecture. The Tabula rasa group is composed of artists Dinky and Queenie Munda, Brando and Cecile Cedeño and Daryl and Ging Descallar.