The types of work I create are all close to my heart, very much connected to my heritage, and always with the objective of sharing my culture, reflecting on social issues, or educating people about my home which is in Mindanao, Philippines. I know that a lot of people have limited knowledge about it. So as a Filipino, a Mindanaoan who is residing outside the country, I feel that it is part of my obligation to share the richness of this culture and the stories of Mindanao through creative avenues to which more people are more receptive to.
The Mananayaw Series aims to give a glimpse of how dancing is like in Mindanao through the exploration of creative mediums outside the performing arts. It esteems to share Mindanao’s diverse performing art culture that is often not available to countries outside of Asia and is usually overshadowed by negative media coverage. Using acrylic on canvas as the main medium, the facial and bodily expressions of a ‘mananayaw’ from Mindanao are the main themes of the art pieces. I wanted to highlight the different communities in Mindanao, the different colors and patterns representing these communities, the colorful costumes, and the different bodily structures and then show it through the art pieces. You see, for a region as big and diverse as Mindanao, you cannot expect a singular form nor face, much more a singular dance that will scream that it is the Mindanaoan identity. The identity itself of Mindanao pertains to the multiplicity of culture thriving in the region.
Mananayaw is a Filipino term used when referring to a person who dances. In many parts of the Philippines, dancing is not simply a profession that you practice on stage. The existing culture of many dance practitioners supposes that a moral system with a set of behavioral codes is embedded and then exhibited through the dancer’s body. The body is not merely a material for a spectacle, but an instrument for communication – to exchange messages, to transmit socio-cultural values, and to share stories and relay histories.