BAGUIO CITY — Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary George Apacible said Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member nations may have different names, different languages, different religions, different designs and colors of dresses but are woven as ASEAN citizens, whose ancestry originates from the Malay race.
At the opening of “Habi, continuing the thread of ASEAN culture” exhibit of the PCOO-Bureau of Communications Services (BCS) at the Baguio Mountain Province Museum on Saturday, Apacible said the “beauty of the diversity in the ASEAN region is that it is hanging on thread of culture that our ancestors embroidered for all of us to cherish until this moment.”
Talking on the importance of the brotherhood that the 10 ASEAN countries share, he said: “We come from one root. Our forefathers were the Austronesian people who inhabited the Malay Peninsula, eastern Sumatra, coastal Borneo and other islands which lie between these locations. Of course, the Philippines is part of that, we are collectively known before as the Malay world but now ASEAN citizens.”
The PCOO executive said the interlinked connection between the ASEAN citizens is not just on the location but also in many other ways such as physical features.
He recalled one of his trips in the region where he thought he was seeing a Filipino but only to realize otherwise when the person spoke.
Apacible said that even the traditional woven attire of each of the ASEAN nations has commonality, they carry “the gracefulness of our past and is being mirrored by the elegance of our traditional dresses,” which although different in designs and colors but there is one striking truth for ASEAN — sharp and durable look — referring to the traditional weaving in all 10 nations where the hands carefully put together every thread that signifies the strength of ASEAN nations as one citizen, bonded together.
The exhibit is part of PCOO’s effort to impart the different cultures that embody the Filipinos’ roots.
“Now we have a very nice mixture of different blood, our looks we got from them but we forgot where we actually came from, from the Malays, the traditions that we always see around,” Apacible explained.
He said they wanted to highlight Cordillera culture which played a big role how Baguio came to be by “bringing back the traditions our forefathers tried to instill and share them with millennials and the new generations” that they would also be proud of our culture, color and race.
The exhibit shows photos of the Ibaloi tribe of Benguet in their native attire doing their daily routine and observing their cultural practices mixed with photos of the woven fabric of the 10 ASEAN member states.
Apacible mentioned of Vietnam’s bright-colored Ow Yai which is as bright as the future, Thailand’s highly decorated Pha Nung which symbolizes ASEAN’s oneness. The Sampot of Cambodia favors one color but is the most decorative that tells why ASEAN is diverse yet cohesive.
Malaysia’s Baju Melayu and Baju Kurung on the other hand, simple in color and design but its ensemble is distinctive of the close relationship of every ASEAN family. The easy to wear silk skirts of Lao women and the Salong pants of the Lao men reflects the trouble-free spirits of ASEAN nations.
The longyi of Myanmar is similar to the Malong and Sarong of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Mindanao. It is being slipped over the head by men and stepped into by the women and tucked in at the waist — the way it is tucked represents toughness in every struggle … as tough as ASEAN’s commitment for a better tomorrow.”
Brunei has Baju Melayu or Baju kurung for women. Both colorful and covering to include conservative values which ASEAN nations adhere. The batik and kebaya of Indonesia are wax-dyed materials. Because of its intricacy, it is the ASEAN’s “Masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity” as UNESCO declared.
The “Barong Tagalog of the Filipino is also a product of complex masterpiece and the Balintawak traditional costume for Filipina is typically blouse with puffy-butterfly short sleeves. Our men have gone through bloodshed while our women demonstrate the fruit of our flying freedom. This is the kind of struggle ASEAN went through and made its half-century mark now.
Singapore has four separate nationalities — Chinese, Malaysian, Indian and European — and each nationality has its own traditional dress.
BCS Director Benjie Felipe said the exhibit tries to bring importance to the handweaving, which is common to all ASEAN states.
“This has continuously linked the Malay race and the colorful clothing that we have in the region had become a very strong foundation of our culture,” Felipe added.
He talked about the important participation of the Cordillera region to the country which served as a refuge to the soldiers who fought for the nation’s freedom.
The exhibit, according to Felipe, depicts the commonality and oneness of the region. (PNA)