Armm anniversary festivities enter final week

Bong Garcia

THE celebration of the 27th Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) Founding Anniversary continues with cultural night competitions scheduled this week at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex (SKCC) in Cotabato City, the region’s seat of government.

This is the final week of the month-long "Pakaradjaan sa Armm," launched on November 19, according to Amir Mawallil, head of Armm’s Bureau of Public Information.

Mawallil said kicking off this week’s final presentations were colorful dances and wonderful music from the province of Maguindanao that filled the SKCC on Monday night, December 12.

Performing songs, drama and at least 12 dances, including "Kapeg-Islam", "Kapegkawing", and "Kapamalong-malong", was an ensemble of around 30 Maguindanaon students and professionals trained by the Kutawato Dance Bureau (KDB).

Accompanying their performances were ethnic musicians who played "kulintang", "agong", "gandingan", and the now venerable ethnic instrument the "kutyapi" played by very few today.

Esmail Ahmad, a blind 71-year-old man who played the instrument on Monday night, is one of only three known players of the kutyapi in Maguindanao and in the region.

He is often invited by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts to perform in Manila during special occasions.

Maguindanaons constitute the biggest Muslim group in North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, and South Cotabato - the four provinces constituting the then Cotabato Empire.

The word Maguindanao was derived from "Maguin", meaning one who has suffered from flood, and "Danao" meaning flood by lake.

The people of Maguindanao, known as the Maguindanaons, are referred to as the “people of the flood plains”.

KDB director and choreographer Arvie Roa Macmud-Sinsuat said she conceptualized the Maguindanaon cultural night in performances that bound together the history and tradition of the locals in a very authentic, creative, and colorful execution.

That is why, she said, her ensemble has a high chance of besting out the other competitors this week.

For this year’s Pakaradjaan, the province of Maguindanao is being represented by 21 Armm agencies, headed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG-Armm) under Regional Secretary Kirby Matalam Abdullah.

The province of Maguindanao is the reigning over-all champion in last year’s competitions and it hopes to retain the title this year.

Performing on the night of Tuesday, December 13, at the SKCC is the province of Lanao, followed by the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi respectively, from Wednesday, December 14, until Friday, December 16.

Mawallil said the cultural night presentations are part of the celebration of the 2016 Pakaradjaan sa Armm.

Previous competitions like the Dulang Cultural Parade, Tribal Cuisine Competition, and various sports competitions, were previously held in line with the celebration. The winners of all the competitions will be announced during the closing ceremonies of this year’s Pakaradjaan on Monday, December 19.