Ata Youth Music Workshop

One of the desires of our Ata youth partners in the IYL program is to learn how to play their traditional musical instruments. More importantly, they intend to understand the sacred value of these traditional instruments and the significance of their own tribal music to their culture. To begin this learning journey, our Ata youth partners met with a collective of performing artists in the city called Kalumon Performing Ensemble last March 7. The group performs contemporary pieces of dance, song and play that celebrate the cultures of the Indigenous people in Mindanao. Mario “Mayong” Lim, who is the founder of the group, shared with the Ata youth his own story of growth as a learner and performer, and as a person who deeply appreciates the value and beauty of Indigenous cultures. Performing for him is not only to entertain but it is also to convey a meaningful and relevant message that resonates to all of society. He encouraged the Ata youth to strive to create more of their musical instruments, to continue learning about their culture, and to pass on this knowledge to the next generations, as song and dance are all part of one’s identity as Ata.

In a brief processing afterwards, the Ata youth shared their thoughts and appreciation for how Kalumon was formed and the Indigenous values it espouses. They also reiterated their desire to understand their tribal music and dance. Nelio, one of the youth shares, “I look forward to hearing from our elders about our own music as they have the wisdom and knowledge. I also acknowledge that I have the responsibility to pass this on to the next generation.” Ai-Ai also expressed her intention to continue enhancing her gift to do ulahing (chanting). One of the youth also shared how she appreciated the reason why the hole of the kuglung, a two-stringed instrument, is at the back of the instrument or close to the chest of the player. The hole is near the chest of the player because when one plays the kuglung, one expresses music directly from one's heart.The dialogue between the Ata youth and Kalumon was intended to provide a space for the youth to see how others (outside of their tribe) value Indigenous cultures and how music is part of their way of life. The conversation also paved the way for the groups to have a cross-cultural sharing of the different tribal music in Mindanao.