Musical on Lumad chieftain’s heroism premieres at MSU-IIT

The ‘Datu Mankalasi’ musical opens to a full house and long applause at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) Gym on Nov. 20, 2017.

The musical is a mythopoetic take on the heroism of the Agusan Higaonon Datu who dared confront the logging giants to save his people's ancestral domain.  It features the Integrated Performing Arts Guild (IPAG) of the MSU-IIT with the Artist Exchange Department of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on a Mindanao touring performance from 20 to 28 November 2017.

Written by award-winning poet and playwright Dr. German V. Gervacio and directed by the critically acclaimed Dr. Steven Patrick C. Fernandez, the play gathered the narrative and realized by IPAG’s team of choreographers, designers, musicians, and performers. “Our collaborators approximate as close as we can the nuances of the Agusanon Manobo in the production’s transcreation to our contemporary audiences,” Dr Fernandez said. When asked how the material was appropriated from Higaonon to Manobo, he added that “Datu Mankalasi is about greed and the unabated destruction of our environment. The Higaonon world, thus in the theatre, also become our own.”

Mindanao literary luminary, poet, and fictionist Dr Christine F Godinez-Ortega writes in her review that the play is “at its usual best… excellent Light and Set designs… synchronized Technical Management... authentic, colorful and breath-taking Manobo attire in contrast to the costumes of the Bughawan that had a smorgasbord of influences including the Manga comics, Animation, the post-apocalyptic Water World and the sci-fi Final Fantasy. … Best of all, the rhythmic movements … were earthy and seemingly natural, thanks to the research on Manobo dances.”

IPAG, the resident artists group of MSU-IIT leads among Philippine multi-performance groups. It has engaged thousands with its acclaimed repertoire around the country and in over a hundred cities in Hawaii, the U.S. Mainland, Europe, and Asia. Recipient of multiple awards from international and national bodies, IPAG, its artists, and its works have been recognized with the Palanca, Francisco Demetrio, CCP Gantimpala, CCP Pilak, Fookien Times, the U.P. Likhaan awards, and its latest, the prestigious UMPIL Gawad Pedro Bucaneg. This year, IPAG represented the Philippines in the ASEAN Cultural Expo in Bangkok performing to acclamation its Sita: The Ramayana Revisited. Set for more road tours, IPAG mounts its innovative obras in various other festivals including a 2017 Europe Cultural-Trade Mission.

IPAG’s prominence is well acknowledged in 39 years of a dominating presence in Philippine Performance. Its Founding Chairperson Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa was awarded the 2015 Ramon Magsaysay, Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel. Founder and Artistic Director Steven P.C. Fernandez was awarded the 2014 Umpil Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas. It presents a signature performance of a signature performance of a distinguishable form, of movement, color, poetry, rhythm that can be aptly labeled “Filipino” enhanced by a presence that captivates.

Datu Mankalasi musical is a component of the ‘Healing the Hurt’ Project implemented by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR, Inc.) and partners Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization. The initiative is supported by the European Union through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.

Datu Mankalasi will be shown in Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro City (24 November), Bukidnon State University in Malaybalay City (27 November), and the University of Science and Technology of the Southern Philippines in Cagayan de Oro City (29 November).###