The Nueva Vizcaya Council for Culture and the Arts has unanimously voted to recognize Bugkalot tribe elders as culture bearers of indigenous arts and crafts of the province.
The council, a multi-sectoral agency which oversees the province’s culture and arts scene, is composed of representatives from the government, the private sector, the academe, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the Department of Education, the tourism council, local historical society, the art community, and chaired by the provincial governor.
Based on the documentation made by the provincial tourism office, Nueva Vizcaya has several elder tribal artisans led by 84-year-old Adolfo Quewigh of Pelaway, Alfonso Castañeda town, an expert maker of the Bugkalot kaget (brass belt for women), kina-wit (belt accessories), and musical instruments like gisada (violin with human hair strings) and kulising (bamboo guitar).
His wife, Nanay Sublina is also an expert in indigenous embroidery. The Quewigh couple plays a significant role in the remote community by teaching other and younger family members of their craft.
Some elders from Dupax del Norte and other indigenous peoples’ groups are also being eyed for local and national recognition.
The tribe was formerly known as the Ilongots, who were fierce headhunters in Alfonso Castañeda, Dupax del Norte, and Dupax del Sur towns, which have well-preserved indigenous customs and traditions.
The provincial government, through the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, plans to legislate ordinances declaring them as local treasures or local cultural bearers.
It also hopes to nominate these tribe elders to the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan or the National Living Treasure Award given by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and conferred by the President of the Philippines.
The GaMaBa is the highest award given to Filipinos engaged in traditional art whose distinctive skills have reached a high level of technical excellence and have been passed on to and widely practiced in their community.
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