Memory of Dances

This is the story of the Tagbanua of Coron, Palawan, the Bugkalot and Igorot of Nueva Vizcaya, and the Manobo of Mount Apo. All of them are impoversihed peoples ranged against forces much more powerful than they — mining in Nueva Vizcaya, mass tourism in Palawan, a geothermal plant on Mount Apo. In all these places, the viability of indigenous communities is being challenged by business entities and government agencies, by the ever-increasing intrusion of the market and the state.

The story of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines is a chronicle of loss. Many of them have been dispossessed of their land, their culture destroyed, their forests and seas exploited by outsiders. Some tribes face extinction: their numbers are rapidly dwindling because the land and forests that sustained them have been taken by outsiders.

But theirs is not just a story of tragedy and loss. It is also one of recovery and hope. In all the places we visited, we found peoples who were intensely engaged with the world outside, fighting and negotiating, constantly improvising as they sought to change the terms of their engagement with the world outside. We saw the importance of culture and memory in breathing life into communities that once stood on the edge of disintegration and despair.

To indigenous peoples, the meory of dances — of their bodies swaying to the rhythm of ancient gongs — keeps their hope alive that one day they will recover the sacred ground that is the homeland of their ancestors. This book chronicles their struggle to change the course of the history that confines them.

© 2002, 144 pages, ISBN 971-8686-35-5

The book is available at the PCIJ office. For more information, email or call (+632) 4319204.