Town & Country (Philippines) - - OUT & ABOUT -

With pho­tog­ra­pher Jake Ver­zosa re­cently win­ning the Steidl Book Award Asia for his re­mark­able book, Last Tat­tooed

Women of Kalinga, there’s no bet­ter time to take a closer look at the cul­ture of north­ern in­dige­nous tribes, as pre­sented by two uni­ver­si­ties.

At the newly opened Museo Kordi­ly­era at the Univer­sity of the Philip­pinesBaguio, the spot­light is on the Igorot, a col­lec­tive name for the var­i­ous eth­no­lin­guis­tic tribes liv­ing in the Cordilleras in North­ern Lu­zon. Known for their dis­tinct tra­di­tions that sur­vived cen­turies of col­o­niza­tion and for­eign oc­cu­pa­tion, the Igorot peo­ple con­structed with their own hands and tools the gem that is the Banaue Rice Ter­races (lo­cally known as payao), con­tinue to prac­tice the dy­ing art of hand-tap tat­toos (ba­tok), and take pride in their hunt­ing skills.

De­signed by Ar­chi­tect Aris Go and 90 De­sign Stu­dio, the Museo Kordi­ly­era is part of the univer­sity’s ef­forts to not only pre­serve the cul­ture of North­ern Lu­zon but also to fos­ter aca­demic re­search on the re­gion. It houses tan­gi­ble her­itage items, such as a 20-ton Ifu­gao bench called the hagabi, tra­di­tional jew­elry and cloth­ing of the dif­fer­ent in­dige­nous groups, and bul-ol sculp­tures de­pict­ing their sig­nif­i­cant role as guardians of rice gra­naries.

Sev­eral on­go­ing ex­hibits fur­ther stress the im­por­tance of this ethno­graphic mu­seum: “Ba­tok (Tat­toos): Body as Archive,” presents a com­pre­hen­sive his­tory of Cordillera’s tat­too­ing tra­di­tions; “Jules de Raedt: Life Works, Lived Worlds,” doc­u­ments an­thro­po­log­i­cal re­search on the Buaya peo­ple of Kalinga; and “The In­dige­nous, In Flux: Re­con­fig­ur­ing the Ethno­graphic Pho­to­graph,” show­cases the works of Pro­fes­sor Rolanda Ra­bang. Th­ese are wel­come ad­di­tions to the ex­hibits pre­sented at the BenCab Mu­seum, an­other arts and cul­ture des­ti­na­tion that Baguio City is fa­mous for. Museo Kordi­ly­era, Univer­sity of the Philip­pines-Baguio, UP Drive, Baguio City; museoko­rdi­ly­; @mu­soko­rdi­ly­era on face­book. cHriSta DEla cruZ

triBal SHow­caSE the newly opened Museo Kordi­ly­era’s ex­hibits on in­dige­nous igorot cul­ture.

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