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The Ghosts of Bud Dajo return to Jolo, Sulu

by Pesante-USA Friday, Feb. 02, 2007 at 7:47 PM
magsasakapil@hotmail.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los A ngeles, CA 90026

Mindanao tales tells that whoever made or put the mysterious white “agong” in the small cave at the foot of Bud Daho remains a mystery to this day. The “agong” is a musical instrument which produces a single note when pounded with a mallet or a large drumstick. It is commonly used by many Asian tribes along with other native brass instruments and is largely associated with religious rituals or festivities. The people living near Bud Dajo even believe that the silver gong is enchanted and that nobody has dared take it away from its nesting place. The Bud Dajo massacre of 1906 IN villages near Bud Dajo (Mt. Dajo) in Jolo, Sulu, where over a thousand people died in a massacre by American forces over a hundred years ago, the sound of the puting agong has often been heard as a warning.

The Ghosts of Bud Dajo return to Jolo, Sulu



Manila-- Mindanao tales tells that whoever made or put the mysterious white “agong” in the small cave at the foot of Bud Daho remains a mystery to this day.

The “agong” is a musical instrument which produces a single note when pounded with a mallet or a large drumstick. It is commonly used by many Asian tribes along with other native brass instruments and is largely associated with religious rituals or festivities.

The people living near Bud Dajo even believe that the silver gong is enchanted and that nobody has dared take it away from its nesting place.

The Bud Dajo massacre of 1906

IN villages near Bud Dajo (Mt. Dajo) in Jolo, Sulu, where over a thousand people died in a massacre by American forces over a hundred years ago, the sound of the puting agong has often been heard as a warning.

“When the weather is bad, the agong plays and different voices seem to come out of it,” said Normina Hadi, a Tausug artist.

“Usually, it comes when something is about to happen, as when there is a calamity or a really big storm is brewing. When people hear the sound, they would stop on their tracks and pray,” Hadi added.

So, when playwright Arnel Marduquio came up with the idea of the antigong agong (ancient agong) after a two-month research and immersion in the communities of Bud jaho, he was surprised to discover that one already existed in the people’s mind.

“I was amazed when they told me that such an agong existed,” Marduquio said.

Community people, equally surprised, had asked him how he came to know about it. Not everyone could go to that cave where the agong, (white because it is made of silver), would make itself appear at certain times, Marduquio was told.

The place where it is found is sacred ground among the Tausug and anyone who goes there has to go through a certain ritual, lest something bad will happen.

Musical

“Antigong Agong,” the musical, recounts the killing of over a thousand Tausug on Bud Daho by American forces over a hundred years ago. The story starts with the quest for an ancient agong to raise dowry for a traditional Tausug wedding, but which eventually leads to the discovery of the March 8, 1906 carnage at the foot of the mountain.

With Popong Landero as musical director and Mario Leofer Lim as assistant director and choreographer, Marduquio directed the show with a cast of 20 young Tausug artists who desire lasting peace in their homeland.

The show was mounted on Dec. 2 last year and presented in Sulu, Zamboanga and Davao, in time for the massacre’s centennial and as part of the group’s peace advocacy in Mindanao.

This year, it will be brought to the rest of Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon to culminate at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City.

The group aims to bring the show to Filipino-American communities in the United States, said Marduquio, who was earlier involved in another musical performance tour of Salima.

He talked about a community in Barangay Danag in Patikul, Sulu, near Bud Dajo, where 80 percent of those who lived are descendants of a massacre survivor. The tragedy was never written in history books.

“But their (the Tausug) oral history is still very much alive in the form of a lugo (chant), kissa (historical account chanted with the accompaniment of gabbang and viola) and istorya (storytelling),” said Marduquio.

“That was how the story of the massacre survived to this day,” he said.

Mission

Unlike other theaters, however, Antigong Agong is not meant just to entertain. It wants to bring about the message of peace, to turn Sulu from a war zone into a land of peace.

“This show has a mission,” Marduquio said. “The play may not be able to change the situation of Jolo but a good story can be the start of the long process of resolving the conflict.”

It is ironic, though, that a hundred years after the Bud Daho massacre, the American forces are back in Jolo for the Balikatan military exercises.

“They have never left the place,” said Marduquio.

Through telling and retelling of the tragic event, the people of Sulu seek a formal closure of the incident. But up to now, the US government has never admitted its own mistake or openly gave public apology to the aggrieved, Marduquio said.

“At this point, history needs closure but that closure should include the healing of the wounds of war,” he said. “Justice should be delivered.” Germelina Lacorte

***************

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