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Asian Council for People's Culture

Audio-Video Digital Documentation of Nature Prayer Rituals of Seven Tribal Communities

(Quezon City, Philippines)

The Asian Council for People's Culture (ACPC) is launching the project Audio-Video Digital Documentation of Nature Prayer Rituals of Seven Tribal Communities, under the direction of Al Santos, to help preserve ancestral Philippine rituals and revive them in a contemporary social context.

This project will use digital audiovisual technologies to record fundamental characteristics of the traditional activities of these communities. Video allows a detailed recording of information since it captures visual and audio aspects as well as the chronological unfolding of the ceremonies observed. The resulting documents will serve as communication tools and will be developed in keeping with tribal reality: they will be annotated in the local languages and integrated in line with indigenous ways of transmitting knowledge (these are peoples with an oral tradition). A representative from each tribe will take part in planning and developing the project and help establish a dialogue with the people in these regions, where the essentials for disseminating electronic media are not always available.

To achieve their goals, the project participants are counting on the contribution of the elders, who were the last to witness their customs before the intrusion of outside influences. With their deep knowledge of ancestral rituals, these elders are the main source for passing on their people's cultural heritage and reviving traditions.

All the tribes chosen for the project are in danger of extinction. They are scattered throughout the islands of the Philippine archipelago. While the Kalinga, Aeta, Mangyan and Tagbanua live in different parts of the country's main island, Luzon, the Badjao, T'boli and Talaandig communities come from smaller islands.

Among the many vestiges of Asian civilization, the ACPC wishes to document nature prayer rituals, which characterize a type of ancestral social organization and typify social groups having close ties with natural resources, spirits and gods. Carried out in symbiosis with the environment, the rites observed and studied for the project evoke the spiritual dimension of Philippine tribes. The rites celebrate life cycles, promote healing and encourage learning from elders. Data collection is planned for the period from harvest season 2002 to planting season 2003.

The ACPC is undertaking this project to preserve an understanding of indigenous Philippine culture, produce tools for passing on knowledge within the participating communities, encourage sharing and co-operation among the different tribes and favour their long-term survival. The project will combine digital technologies and ethnic traditions in order to stimulate indigenous economic, social and cultural activity while giving greater worth to tribal customs.

Catherine Mussely © 2001 FDL