Race for culture

THE Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao medals are handmade miniatures of kulintang gongs where swimming, cycling, and running symbols are embedded surrounded by the curlicues and bells that are distinctly Mindanao.

Unveiled along with a sculpture where a giant replica of the medal is featured, the design seeks to underscore the Mindanaoan spirit in defending its land and striving for peace.

The medal is designed by Mindanao artist Rey Mudjahid "Kublai" Millan and contracted out to a clan of brassware artisans led by Joel Blunto. Each symbol and pattern on each if the 1,800 medals are shaped and placed there, individually, by hand by this community of T’boli brassmakers in scenic Lake Sebu.

The clan deserves all praises as they produced the medals amid tight deadline after an earlier contract with another family failed to deliver the goods within the prescribed time.

A craft handed down from generation to generation, brassmaking among the T’boli tribe of South Cotabato has been woven into their culture, becoming the background to their dances and music: Bells tinkling as their dancers sway, agongs marking time, kulintangs playing the melody.

The patterns and symbols on these musical instruments and bells are derived from their environment, their realities.

The sculpture finds the giant replica on a bed of an abstraction of a dove, representing peace, and a cradle representing how the island group nurtures its people to be the pioneers, patriots, and warriors that Mindanaons, both indigenous to the land and the settlers are.

From this peaceful cradle arises the medal that represents strength and resilience.

"Alab ng puso is Visayas, and Duyan ng magiting is Mindanao," Kublai said. Coming up when it's Subic's turn to host the Ironman is Perlas ng silangan.

And this, he believes, is what the Filipino people have been living up to. Mindanao has nurtured its people to be true to their identities and stand up for their land, even amid consistent and generations-long attempts to enslave them.

Thus, the Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao becomes steeped with the Mindanao culture, a piece of which is brought home by every finisher and winner as a remembrance of a race that did not only focus on the competition but on the human and each participant's aspirations.
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