In celebration of this year’s National Heritage Month, Filipinos around the globe were presented an opportunity to celebrate Philippine culture and heritage through AIESEC UPM’s “Kayumanggi: Celebrating the Identity and Heritage of the Filipino People,” a three-day online event on May 27 to 29.
Kayumanggi Project Head Andres Manuel III welcomed the delegates to formally open the event with a message, hoping that the event will sharpen the new generation’s mindset, emphasizing that being a Filipino should not be something to be ashamed of.
- Day 1 - GUNITA: Unearthing Yesterday’s Gems (May 27)
On its first day, the event formally kicked off with “GUNITA: Unearthing Yesterday’s Gems,” engaging in the question of who we are as Filipinos. As Vice President Leni Robredo shared in her opening remarks, “Today’s event is not only an opportunity to celebrate our heritage but to reflect our continuously changing identity.”
Exploring the Filipino pre-colonial history and folklore, UPM’s Chairman of the Department of Social Sciences in College of Arts and Sciences Jerome Ong discussed the search for the prehistoric Filipino identity through a tour of various prehistoric sites and artifacts. While University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) Wika, Panitikan, at Pagsasalin professor Dr. Rosalina Aragon Mendigo unraveled the diverse folklore of Pangasinan.
As these roots were passed down from generation to generation, is it possible that some of these cultural elements were lost in translation?
In a panel discussion, this beguiling question was answered by speakers coming from different indigenous communities: Chairman of the National Committee on Northern Cultural Communities at National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Dr. Edwin Antonio, Bagobo K'lata tribe in Davao member Inna Maristela Garcia, Bugkalot community of Nueva Vizcaya representative Frederick Barcelo, and Obo Manobo community in Cotabato representative Jerlyn Mendog Noa.
Meanwhile, the day concluded with four interactive workshops featuring Filipino writer and 16-time Palanca Awardee Jose “Butch” Y. Dalisay Jr., who hosted the Story Writing Workshop, Filipino actress, singer, dancer, and the “Star for All Seasons” Vilma Santos-Recto leading the Acting Workshop, Filipino singer-songwriter Jim Paredes spearheading the Songwriting Workshop, and dressmaker and designer Riza Bulawan taking charge of the Fashion Designing Workshop.
- Day 2 - DIWANG: Celebrating Filipino Heritage Through the Years (May 28)
With “DIWANG: Celebrating Filipino Heritage Through the Years,” the second day started with a session defining the word “pamana” or heritage, and expounding on the evolution of the Philippine pop culture.
Poet, fiction writer, critic, and journalist Louie Jon A. Sanchez explained this in his presentation titled, ”Kulturang Popular bilang Pamana.” Mr. Sanchez also gave importance to reclaiming our story. “Kailangan natin bawiin doon sa mga kumangkang mula sa atin itong serye na ito—na serye ng drama ng ating buhay, ng drama ng ating kontemporaryong kasaysayan.”
But what does it mean to be a Filipino today? Mr. Aristotle Atienza, a professor at the Department of Filipino in the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), attempted to answer this question by moderating a cross-cultural space panel discussion on “Mythbusters: Paving The Way To Truth.” Mr. Atienza observed that identity isn’t fixed, for it is constantly slowly growing. Therefore, “identity is very much alive.”
A panel consisting of Filipinos from around the globe who joined Mr. Atienza includes Acting Chairperson of Liyang Network Philippines Kert Tandog, Filipino-American Freelance 2D animator Lark Ortiz, President of the Filipino Student Society at the University of Sydney Sophia Maranan, and Secretary of the Filipino Student Society at the University of Sydney Lou Gonzales; who shared their experiences on rediscovering and embracing their Filipino roots and cultural identities despite the stereotypes that may exist.
Moreover, a film-viewing of the award-winning 2016 documentary Sunday Beauty Queen was moderated by Director Baby Ruth Villarama. The film sheds light on the various struggles of Filipino foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, escaping their day-to-day lives by joining beauty pageants on Sundays—a way to find happiness in their onerous reality.
In the Q&A portion, she noted how right the world was when people showed appreciation and empathy to the people in the movie. "People were really hugging them and umiiyak sila. Kumabaga, iba yung pagtingin,” she mentioned. “‘Yun yung shift na pinangarap ko kasi gusto kong sabihin sa nanay ko na ‘kahit katulong ka, you deserve to be recognized, Ma.’ Para sa kanya ‘yun.”
The film-viewing was followed by a culture night which capped off day two, hosted exclusively for the delegates of the event. Participants were given the opportunity to showcase their different talents and interact with fellow delegates.
- Day 3 - KAUGMAON: Moving Forward as One (May 29)
On the third and final day of Kayumanggi, “KAUGMAON: Moving Forward as One” commenced with “The People’s Archive,” a session featuring a number of Filipino speakers discussing a range of social issues that we face in the present.
Filipino anthropologist and cultural historian Dr. Fernando Zialcita led a discussion on sustainability in the Philippines, Ateneo’s Department of Filipino faculty member and film writer-director Dr. Alvin Yapan talked about Philippine culture in film, and Filipina actress Shamaine Buencamino spoke on her personal experiences as an actress and as a mental health advocate.
Moreover, participants were surprised when guest speaker and Filipino actor Jericho Rosales took to the stage to discuss his humble beginnings in the entertainment industry and what he’s learned throughout his career.
Towards the event’s end, awards were given to the delegates who joined the “Kayumanggi Competition: Kahusayan ng Pinoy” by judges Ms. Tricie Mendoza in the Visual Arts Category, Ms. Nicole Joslin in the Performing Arts Category, and Mr. Jose V. Orgatis in the Literary Arts category.
For Visual Arts Category
Kampeon Award: "Ang Tibud ni Bayan" by Amber Fey Q. Salcedo
Kaugmaon Award: “PAGLAUM” by Bamboo Y. Montilla
Performing Arts Category
Kaugmaon Award: "Harana ni Manong Dee" by Jade San Felipe
Literary Arts Category
Kampeon Award: “Conversations” by Elizabeth S. Lee
Kaugmaon Award: “Iyong Sambitin: FEEL-I-Pinay” by Lyza Mae A. Bullos
Wrapping up the session, veteran journalist Mr. Jing Magsaysay emphasized how Filipino Heritage is all around us as long as we open our eyes. “What we’re doing today is shaping the heritage of the Filipino tomorrow.” Furthermore, he expressed that “the identity and heritage of the Filipino people, it’s in your hands.”
To formally conclude the event, Kayumanggi’s Committee President Maua Alyanna Cepeda delivered the closing remarks, thanking the organization committee and the delegates for making the event successful. “Sa pagtatapos ng Kayumanggi, nawa'y isapuso ninyo ang mga pangaral na ipinagkaloob sa atin [ng ating mga guest speakers].” She also emphasized that the youth members can make a change as long as they have a genuine love for the country.
Serving as an afterparty, a benefit concert streamed live on Facebook, celebrating Filipino artistry with musical performances from various OPM artists in an avenue to support their beneficiaries: the Liyang Network and the Sabokahan Community.
For further updates and information on AIESEC UPM's upcoming events, visit their official Facebook page here.