Hiyas Kayumanggi and you

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hiyas kayumanggi, roughly translated means brown treasure. That should be you and me, dear fellow Filipinos. But most of us, with our “damaged culture,” to quote writer F. Sionil Jose, have forgotten “the beauty and richness of Filipino art, culture and heritage.” To promote our beauty and richness of culture is what the organization Hiyas Kayumanggi is all about.

The group, a non-stock, non-profit foundation founded in 2009, is “made up of creative imaginers from all walks of life and committed to artistic excellence, bringing into awareness the history and culture of the country geared toward the building of the nation through the next generation.” For this, it uses theater.

According to Dr. Bing Zubiri, the core group is about 25, based mostly in Cebu and Dumaguete, but when it stages a play, the group can swell up to 200. Its first presentation was a 20-minute excerpt of the Panay folk epic “Hinilawod” or “Tales from the Mouth of the Halawod River,” about the ancient people of Sulod. This was shown at the Luce Auditorium, Silliman University, Dumaguete, in 2009 and also at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It was so well received that Hiyas Kayumanggi staged the full length version of “Hinilawod” in 2010 at the Luce Auditorium and in 2011 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.


In early March this year, it presented Rizal, atbp. at On Stage, Cinema One, Ayala Center Cebu. The musical play, relates its director, Dr. Joanie Sycip (a doctor of medicine based in Dumaguete) was first staged in the United States in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, California, in 2012. The presentations there were geared towards the Fil-Am youth who feel disadvantaged because they seem to have “no history,” unlike the other Asian migrants with their own languages, written word, and ancient civilizations. Dr. Sycip was asked by the Filipino group there, Ang Lahi, to help in the presentation of the original play by Max Ligot, which she fine-tuned into its stage presentation format. It’s a musical play with songs and dances interspersed with the life of Rizal, shown as part of students’ reports on his life for their Rizal class. Watching the play seems like taking the semester Rizal course in just three hours. The play will be shown again, this time, in Dumaguete at the Luce Auditorium in October. For the Cebu presentation, Dr. Sycip was ably helped by her Cebu-based assistant director, Rene Oliva Jr., who has a music school, Huni.

Asked why she went all the way to the United State for the play, Dr. Sycip says it was really for love of country, the realization that the next generation does not know the country’s beginning, its ancient history. Love of country, Dr.Zubiri adds, is really what Hiyas Kayumanggi is all about. She continues, “The group’s focus is on for I’s: identity, image, influence, inspiration. If you don’t know yourself (identity), you will not have a proper image of yourself and thus you will not be able to influence and be a source of inspiration.”

This brown treasure is the heart of our country. If we embrace it, we embrace our nationhood.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 28, 2014.


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