Asian musical cultures come together in the Southern Philippines. On these islands old Malay music and a later form of India/Muslim music coexist. Unaccompanied singing and the use of bamboo ideocords and bamboo flutes are indicative of practices common in Malaysia. The chanting of long, melismatic melodies are reminiscent of Indian and Islamic music; while gong playing with basses evokes practices similarly observed in Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, and Burma
| Vera-Reyes Inc., 1978
| Two distinct types of song are popular among the Maguindanaos: 1) religious chants sung during the Friday noon service, the celebration of the Molud or Mawlid, the puwasa or Ramadan, and the periodic commemoration of the dead; and 2) the less formal secular songs, such as love songs, legend chants, and lullabies. Similarly, among the Tausogs, song traditions fall into either the lugu, unaccompanied songs associated with traditional rites; or the paggabbang, songs rendered solely for entertainment.
(Source: Pobre, C.P., et al, 1978. Tuladan, The Philippine South. Manila: The Executive Committee; 160pp.)
The popular kolintang
(gong melody) is played in different instrumental combinations, but the Maguindanao ensemble is said to have the most developed melodic permutation
Mindanao State University, 1980
The ensemble is composed of a set of eight gongs of graduated sizes arranged in a row (kolintang), a suspended gong with a thin sound (babendir), a drum (debakan), one or two suspended gongs (agong), and a pair of gongs with narrow rims (gandingan).The kolintang is a counterpart of the Malaysian or Indonesian gamelan, except that it is an ensemble strictly of percussion instruments. No wind or string instrument is played to accompany it. The principal eight-gong series (kolintang) is used to play a variety of meaningful compositions; the other gongs and the drum follow its beat.In Maranao the musical or poetical compositions played on the kolintang usually have dual meanings: literal and "cultural." Here are some examples:
Ka kerarab a kalasan.
| DeerRun, run away, deer
For the forest is burning.
Aside from the literal meaning the cultural interpretation is: the maiden player warns her first suitor ("deer") to give up courting her, as a new and accepted suitor will replace him. Also the message suggests that the new suitor will become her partner in playing the kolintang.
KatebonanOman ko katademan
A kiyatebonan o taw,
Na rabayin ako a lo.
| Tabon EggsAs I recall the time that
People searched for tabon eggs,
My tears run down my cheeks.
Historically, famines have occurred in the Lanao area and have driven people far and wide in search of food, including the eggs of the bird tabon, along the sea coastal towns. "My tears" reflects a sad recollection of the famine which brought hardships including the demeaning occupation of searching for tabon eggs.
Na pamola ka sa obi
Na gawnen ta imanto
Na itinda ta bo amay
A ken o madakel a taw.
| ChumsHey Chum,
Plant camote which
Today we shall harvest
And cook tomorrow
For the people to eat.
A joke between two friends, a young woman and a young man, exaggerates the short time of planting, harvesting, cooking, and eating camote. The woman suggests raising camote for service to their people.
Ka da kawanan da diwang;
Ka da diwang da kawanan.
| NeutralityFar I sail into the ocean Neither choosing right nor left;
Farther I go into the depth
To have neither enemy nor friend.
This poem portrays the customary neutrality of a Maranao, when his friends or relatives are in conflict. He avoids partisan involvement by figuratively going into the "ocean" or "depth" away from the quarreling parties.
| KapmotantangKaram o tantangi ko
So ama motantang iyan...
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