The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) is celebrating the Museums and Galleries Month by honoring communities of indigenous peoples.
The National Indigenous Peoples Month is observed every October by virtue of Proclamation No. 1906 signed on Oct. 5, 2009 by then President Gloria M. Arroyo.
“While we have been featuring for our cover a series of photographs showing you behind-the-scenes of our exhibitions production, we would now want to give credit to those whose knowledge inspire us to gather data, collect material culture, and interpret them in exhibitions, publications, and other public programs,” the NMP said.
This month, the museum is honoring the late Rosita Caballero, one of the last known kept maidens from the Panay Bukidnon indigenous community. She died at the age of 73 in 2017. She served as the tribe elder in Barangay Garangan, Calinog, Iloilo.
“While popularly known as veiled and isolated even from the rest of the household from childhood, we would rather focus on women like her who are custodians of their community’s traditional knowledge, including epics, other oral lores, music, and dances,” the NMP said.
Binuktot is a Filipino cultural practice that secludes a young woman from a mundane life with the expectation that seclusion will result in a higher value placed on the individual by marital suitors in the future.
Although the NMP was not able to interview Caballero before she died, eminent anthropologist F. Landa Jocano, who was a museum researcher in 1955 and 1957, was able to interact with her predecessors.
“Our textile exhibitions at the National Museum of Anthropology in Manila and the National Museum Western Visayas Regional Museum have been inspired by his study, as well as those of Dr. Alicia Magos and Dr. Cristine Muyco, among others,” the NMP said.
“More importantly, we have returned to the source communities, such as the Panay Bukidnon and have begun giving more credit to them and providing names and even photographs so we will all remember that the NMP is so much richer for the intangible cultural heritage embedded in our exhibitions and public programs. Theirs are stories that we need to tell or retold,” it added.