Ribbon cutting ceremony of the exhibit, “Of Sacred Mountains and Ancestral Plains: Artistic Traditions of Southern Mindanao – The Tboli, Blaan, and Maguindanao” held at the Philippine Embassy on 29 October 2019. Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez (2nd from left) led the ceremony together with (from left) Prima Hower, Craig Diamond, and Rowena Randman.

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30 October 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In observance of National Indigenous People’s Month and as part of its Filipino American History Month celebration this October, Sentro Rizal Washington DC, in partnership with SoCSKSarGen USA Inc., mounted the exhibit, “Of Sacred Mountains and Ancestral Plains: Artistic Traditions of Southern Mindanao – The Tboli, Blaan, and Maguindanao” at the 2nd floor of the Philippine Embassy Chancery Annex. 

“The Philippine Embassy, through Sentro Rizal Washington DC, is honored and delighted to partner with SoCSKSarGen USA Inc. in highlighting the rich cultural heritage of indigenous peoples in the Southern Philippines, as we commemorate National Indigenous People’s Month in the Philippines and Filipino-American History Month in the United States,” said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez in his opening remarks.

“Through this special exhibition of precious items from Mindanao, we hope to inspire pride in the artistry and resilience of Philippine indigenous peoples and raise awareness of their important role in the building of a strong, cohesive, and progressive Filipino nation,” the Ambassador further stated.

“Our purpose for this exhibit is to raise awareness of their existence, promote cultural literacy, and introduce to the world intricate arts and crafts of our indigenous people,” Ms. Rowena Mejia Randman, President of SoCSKSarGen USA Inc. told the audience in her remarks during the brief program.

Sharing their very important and beautiful collections to the exhibit are power couples Craig and Marie Anne Diamond, and Alvin and Prima Hower who were instrumental in making the special exhibition possible.

Craig Diamond first lived in South Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines – the home of the Tboli and Blaan – as a Rotary exchange student in 1984, and over the years has built a collection of art and artifacts of the indigenous peoples of Southern Mindanao. Alvin Hower, on the other hand, was a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1969 to 1974, who also served in South Cotabato. He preserved the Tboli’s way of life through his photographs, which also decorated the walls of the 2nd floor of the Chancery Annex as part of the display.

Handcrafted beadworks, hand-woven fabrics, embroidery, and brass works likewise filled the entire exhibit floor.

During the program, Allan Palacios-Chan, Jr. and Rane Rose performed heartfelt renditions of the Philippine and US national anthems, respectively, while Kinding Sindaw, a nonprofit dance theater troupe, did a short ritual dance based on the T’boli epic Lemlunay, followed by the ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Ambassador Romualdez, Craig Diamond, Prima Hower, and Rowena Randman.

A T’boli prayer was also offered for the people of SoCSKSarGen, which has been experiencing a series of strong earthquakes since early this month. 

A sumptuous Filipino reception commenced after the brief program and ribbon cutting ceremony, while guests had the chance to view and examine the exhibition displays.

Ms. Prima Guipo Hower spearheaded the production committee of the exhibit together with other SoCSKarGen leaders, including Lulut Palacios-Chan, Darlene Dilangalen, Roma Johnson, Julius Veneracion, Jobert Tiongson Tan, and SoCSKSarGen President Rowena Mejia Randman.

SoCSKSarGenUSA, Inc. is a United States-based non-profit organization represented by former residents of the Philippines’ region covering South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City.

Southern Mindanao is home to a wide array of indigenous peoples renowned for their skills as artists and artisans – among these are the Tboli, Blaan, and Maguindanao. The Tboli people are known as “Dreamweavers” for their unique weaving patterns, while the Blaan embroidery has long been recognized as one of the finest in all of the Philippines.

The exhibit is open for viewing until 31 October 2019 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Interested parties may schedule their visit through cultural@phembassy-us.org. ###

30 October 2019

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Craig Diamond gives Ambassador Romualdez a copy of the November 1913 issue of The National Geographic Magazine containing illustrations of “The Non-Christian Peoples of the Philippine Islands.”

30 October 2019

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Various guests check out the exhibit’s wide array of artistic displays.