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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ilokandia’s second National Living Treasure

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“Culture experts in the Ilocos have suggested people should already capture on tape or video Bagcal’s dallot deliveries to perpetuate the spoken tradition”

We take this space to congratulate the second National Living Treasure awardee of the Ilocos Region – Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan – 77-year-old Adelita Romualdo Bagcal who has, since 15, been doing the “dallot” she had been asked to deliver during special occasions by the Ilokano community.

In December, she was conferred the GAMABA or Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan in recognition of her skill and dedication to preserve and promote dallot, an oral tradition of Ilokano chant that almost always has, delivered extemporaneously, rhythm and rhyme.

Adelita Bagcal, 77, the second national living treasure from the Ilocos region from Banna, Ilocos Norte

Part of the ritual is for the performer to deliver the dallot, spoken off the cuff, metrified, and unrehearsed poem of few minutes in a singsong mode in front of the intended audience.

We heard some culture experts in the region suggest, and we agree, that this early – or perhaps this late – people should already capture on tape or video Bagcal’s dallot deliveries to perpetuate the spoken tradition.

She did one dallot during the 99th birthday anniversary of Ilokandia’s first GAMABA, Magdalena Galinato-Gamayo, awarded in 2012, of Pinili, Ilocos Norte near her town Banna.

The two are among 25 National Living Treasures since the award was given in 1993, all of them have exemplified the highest standard in their respective field of expertise..

Bagcal, a widow like Gamayo, has been dubbed Ilocos Norte’s dallot queen, and likely Ilokandia’s dallot queen after the national government recognition.

She said dallot comes out naturally every time she chants in public.

“This is a golden treasure I inherited from my forefathers. I am proud of it,” she said in an interview, adding she would gladly welcome any invitation to perform dallot in the community or even in schools in Banna to help preserve the oral tradition.

Modern-day wedding preparations may no longer carry dallot as part of the ritual but Bagcal believes it will continue to thrive across generations for as long as people value their cultural identity.

She is also happy that in Banna, she has trained several students of Banna National High School, including her grandson who is now a public school teacher towards the guardianship of cultural heritage

Magdalena Gamayo, 99, on her loom pedal in Pinili, Ilocos Norte

Ilokandia’s first GAMABA, Gamayo, is known as a master textile weaver known for her String of Flowers and Pinilian patterns.

Others in her stockpile include traditional patterns like binakol (whirlwinds, her specialty), inuritan (geometric patterns), sinan-sabong (flowers), and kusikos (orange-like spiral forms).

Gamayo, who signs her name M.G. Gamayo, learned the Ilocano weaving tradition of making inabel from her aunt at age 16 although she dropped out of grade school when she was 9 to watch the weavers of their barrio.

One of the most famous and intricate patterns she has made is the “inubon a sabong” or the string of flowers that can only be created by employing a difficult weaving technique.

Weaving is the textile art in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads — called the warp and weft — are interlaced with each other at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The warp threads run length-ways on the piece of cloth, while the weft runs horizontally.

A GAMABA awardee enjoys, as proclaimed by the President of the Philippines, in accordance with Excutive Order 236 or Honors Code of the Philippines, the same privileges as a National Artist awardee: a gold-plated medal from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, a cash award of P100,000, a minimum lifetime stipend of P10,000 monthly, as well as medical and hospitalization benefits of P750,000 a year; a state funeral, and room in Libingan ng Mga Bayani.

The awardee receives a specially designed medallion/plaque, with a duplicate set that should be donated and displayed to a provincial museum or the largest cultural center in the awardee’s community.

The NCCA, through the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan Executive Council, conducts the search for the finest traditional artists of the land, adopts a program that will ensure the transfer of their skills to others, and undertakes measures to promote a genuine appreciation of and instill pride among our people about the genius of the Manlilikha ng Bayan.

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