Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya―It was a surprise act and honor for Bugkalot couple Adolfo Quewigh, 84, and Sublina, 74, of Barangay Pelaway in Alfonso Castaneda town when the provincial government honored them as cultural treasures of Nueva Vizcaya.
But for the couple, their skills and trade in making accessories for the native attire for Bugkalot men and women are inherited cultural responsibility and obligation to keep their tradition alive for many years.
‘Amma’ (elder) Adolfo has been making the ‘Kaget’ and ‘Kina-wit’ (belt for women and accessories), ‘Gisada’ (violin), ‘Tukbed’ (male headdress), ‘Kulising’ (bamboo guitar), and ‘Sinomangan’ (Bugkalot machete), among others.
Doing his trade for more than 50 years, ‘Amma’ Adolfo is also an expert in playing Bugkalot musical instruments.
‘Inna’ Sublina has been embroidering the traditional attire of the Bugkalots for just as long, and makes some accessories. The designs of embroidery are inspired by and patterned from nature.
The Quewigh couple were featured by the provincial government in a cultural presentation at the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Museum as part of the Arts Month celebration.
For their contribution, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan also crafted a resolution recognizing them as Cultural Bearers and Traditional Folk Artists, calling them “Katutubong Manlilikha” of Nueva Vizcaya.
The resolution also described the Quewigh couple as immersed in the Bugkalot’s indigenous knowledge, systems and practices such as accessory and embroidery making.
“It is an honor for us to be recognized as cultural treasures of Nueva Vizcaya. We do this for the preservation of our culture and traditions,” Amma Adolfo said in their tribal dialect.
He also expressed their gratitude to the efforts of the provincial government in preserving the rich cultural traditions and practices of the Bugkalots.
Adolfo said that through the yearly Indigenous Peoples Summer Workshop, young Bugkalots are now properly taught with their traditional and cultural practices.
“In the previous years when the IPSW was not yet implemented, only old Bugkalots perform their traditional dances, our children were ashamed to do so because they were not taught the proper way. Now, our children are on centerstage during cultural events and occasions,” Adolfo added.
Officials of the Provincial Tourism Office revealed that the Quewigh couple were nominated for the National Commission for Culture and the Arts for the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan which refers to Filipino citizens as National Living Treasures.
The Bugkalot tribe living near the mountainous boundaries of Nueva Vizcaya, Aurora and Quirino provinces were fierce head hunters in the past.
Christian preachings of foreign missionaries gradually tamed their violent practices and transformed them into a peace-loving tribe.
Many Bugkalots are now working in various government and private agencies.
The continuing construction of school facilities and farm-to-market roads have eased the burden of poverty among the tribe in the three provinces who formed the Nueva Vizcaya, Aurora and Quirino Confederation of Bugkalot.
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