Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Isinays in Hongkong

IF ONE DAY soon you get to visit Hongkong and you would find that the name "Isinay" is no longer Greek there or sounding like that of a grotesque-looking creature from outer space, give credit to a group of Filipinos in that cosmopolitan community that calls itself the ISINAY TRIBE OF HONGKONG.

The first concrete evidence I got of the Isinay group's existence was when the following photo of its members (along with Nueva Vizcaya Congressman Carlos Padilla and his better half Ruth) appeared on Facebook:

The photo was taken during the AMMUNGAN FESTIVAL in Hongkong, spearheaded by the Nueva Vizcaya International Association.

I thought the Isinay Hongkong group would go the way dry cogon burns -- hot and bright at first, but fizzles out a few moments later, and quicker than you can spell out ningas-kugon.

As if to prove, however, that Isinays are made of tougher (and more beautiful) raw material, it developed that the "tribe" persisted. You could just imagine the effort made by these overseas workers from Aritao, Bambang and Dupax to find a common time to meet and decide on issues confronting them.

Alas, amidst odds and ends, they went on working as a family, the members sharing whatever resources they could, be they money, help on sewing the sashes/uniform, words of encouragement, or food.

The result was not perfect, as some members admitted they need more practice.

And yet, for many days after the Holy Week, the stream of action pictures they posted on Facebook (exemplified by the one below) showed sterling evidence of their solidarity and daring able to post -- happy and proud as happy and proud can be!

I have only my best wishes that the mostly women members of the group would be able to sustain their being cooperative. Definitely this Isinay group in Hongkong is making history as the first ever full-bodied and fullfledged organization of Isinays outside Isinay country, outside the Philippines.

Lest you think that its members merely "flock together like birds of the same feather", consider this Facebook note by one of its founders, Rose Sierra (of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya):

"DITAU WERI" (sitayu met laeng, awan sabsabali). Iiva on kaisinayan, dyoy tau situ ta wemu maipaila an ditaun Isinay yaj dyoy si pansin uujmu tau... iAritao a man, iBambang a man, o mu iRupaj a man yaj dyoy taun mangitajdoj si tribu tauar an ISINAY... Saten grupo tau yaj osapay si urumar an organization. Saten grupo tau yaj naitadoj pangikavelang (to show our respect) si de^dee tauar on atdi pay si ancestors tauar. We are here to protect our tribe, we are here to preserve and to promote our culture, von? We are so lucky an dyoy taut tu Hongkong toy situn lugar si pansindaramuan di urumar tay an tribun ni^bus si opatar an suung si Pilipinas.. von sosto!! :)

By some twist of fate, Rose earlier asked (through personal messaging in Facebook ) if I could join their  Hongkong group at Facebook and if I could serve as one of its advisers.

Like when I just returned to UP Los Baños in 1993 after a two-year stint with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and from out of the blue some guys from India wrote to say they want me to be their thesis adviser, I usually treat such invitations with silence.

This one from the Isinays of Hongkong was, however, a different creature.

And so, as they say in Tagalog, di na ako nagpatumpik-tumpik pa. Without even asking to see a copy of their bylaws or other such papers that attest to the whats and wherefores of the organization, I replied yes.

My "appointment" coincided with the group's being invited to participate in the Cordillera Day in Hongkong. As its members were at the time still planning what Isinay culture-related matters to present, I immediately put myself to work by suggesting, among other things, that whatever they are going to show, they should not forget to make the audience laugh.

Alas, the cascade of excited and congratulatory notes that came out on Facebook showed that what the Isinay ladies and a few Isinay gentlemen of Hongkong did was to march in smart clothes in what their photos show as very joyful mood. The finale was their singing a contemporary Isinay song of homesickness (composed by Jun and Kitkit Guzman of San Diego, California) to the tune of Fraulein.

I quickly typed a message on Rose Sierra's timeline, asking for a sutsur (story) of the results of their participation. It didn't take long before I received this obviously excited reply:

We were all excited waiting for our turn to sing our Beveyoy an Dopaj when dark clouds and tiny rain drops started falling, ot uddi nansorom di tiyempoar. Madajet di gi^na miyar osyan marin makakansyon but after few minutes the rain totally stopped and just on time when the emcee announced "Let's welcome the Isinay Tribe of Nueva Vizcaya!" I saw the gayjaya in our faces.. one comment from the audience said "Napatahimik nyo ang audience." Yes, because it was their first time to hear the word ISINAY, it was their first time to see Isinay people and it was their first time to hear our ba^baj... and it was OUR first time to come out and show to the Hongkong dojap our bona^ and our very own ISINAY TRIBE Hongkong.

Now, the group plans to show an Isinay wedding next time. Its Vice President, Neneng Reyes Bue, has in fact asked me for the lyrics of the Isinay wedding song Anino^.

Even as I have yet to see the full version of the video of the group's Cordillera Day performance, I can't wait to find out how the mamariit on beveyuntahu an Isinay (Isinay ladies and gentlemen) of Hongkong perform another show of Isinay beauty and solidarity to foreign audiences.

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