Kaaldawan Iraya mangyan Profile

10th Kaaldawan Iraya Mangyan Festival

Last October 25, I was assigned to cover the 10th Iraya Kaaldawan Festival in Puerto Galera, Mindoro. The festival is held every year to give honor to the island’s indeginuos people – the Mangyans. I’m sharing here b-side images that didn’t make it to the publication which will come out (hopefully) sometime soon this month and is ok to share.

Kaaldawan Barangay Bacalayan

Barangay Bacalayan in Puerto Galera

My host in Mindoro and I were already up about 5am to join the trek to the mountains starting from the town center of Puerto Galera. On previous festivals, the Mangyans are the ones who used to come down from the mountains but this time it’s special. It’s the lowlanders who will visit the Mangyans in their settlement up the mountains in Barangay Baclayan.

Iraya Mangyan village in Baclayan

Iraya Mangyan village in Baclayan

Since it rained the night before, the hike took almost an hour due to muddy trails. But still, I could see the enthusiastic glow of people, young and old hiking. The reading on my GPS tells me we’re 361 meters above sea level and from the Mangyan settlement, I could already see some of the nearby islands of Puerto Galera. There is a newly built structure there which would be their new multi-purpose recreation hall.

Kaaldawan Iraya mangyan buddies smile

Iraya Mangyan buddies smile

Mangyans have several sub-groups scattered around the island of Mindoro. Those living in the Bacalayan settlement are called the Iraya Mangyans. Their features are also common as other Mangyans – curly or deep wavy hair and dark brown skins but not as dark as the Negritos. They live through harvesting agricultural crops and hunting small animals for food.

Kaaldawan Iraya mangyan crafts

Kaaldawan Iraya mangyan crafts

But among the Mangyan tribes, the Iraya Mangyans are the most creative in the lot. At the festival, handicrafts were up on sale. There were jars, plates, bags, containers and bracelets as well. They were solid and very intricate in design. The Mangyans however are not fit for mass production of handicraft goods since they only make them when they are in the mood which the locals sid are in their inspired and dreamy state. So each crafts they make are unique. I bought a few containers and bracelets since they are sold quite high in price in Manila.

Kaaldawan Iraya mangyan "Drama of life" Dance

10th Kaaldawan Iraya mangyan "Drama of life" Dance

Their native dances and songs performed by the Mangyan students was culturally enriching. Most of them are garbed similarly to how the ancient Mangyans are garbed – blouses, skirts and loin clothes weaved from cottons made by pounding dry tree barks. The Mangyan native dances mimics their daily life of harvest and thanking the spirits for their bounty. A large number of Mangyans still embraces their Animism roots while a small portion are already converted to Christianity.

Kaaldawan Iraya mangyan "Drama of life" Dance

10th Kaaldawan Iraya mangyan "Drama of life" Dance

The younger Mangyans sang songs of how gentle they are as people and even though most are not highly educated or looked down by modern society they are still Mangyans and are also people to be treated with respect. This song is quite true that lowlanders maltreat Mangyans both in trade and even discriminates them on public transports. Even the word “Mangyans” is used as an insult similar to the word stupid.

Kaaldawan Iraya mangyan Kid Glance

Iraya Mangyan Singing Kid Glance

The Iraya Mangyan’s Kaaldawan Festival may not be as grand as other festivals in our country but it serves to remind us that Indigenous People such as the Mangyans are part of our rich Filipino Culture and their creativity and talents should be recognized by all. The local government of Puerto Galera as well as NGOs such as Tourism Sector Coordinating Association (TOSCA) are putting up projects to help Mangyans livelihood in the tourism sector. The Recreation Hall was a start which would serve as a tourist center at Baclayan.

Kaaldawan Iraya mangyan Girl Sings

Iraya Mangyan Girl Sings

Another project launched by TOSCA with the help of NGO, Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), and funding from the World Bank was the development of the Baclayan Hiking Trails. This would serve as additional livelihood from farming and deter illegal logging in the area. TOSCA even sent a few Mangyans to train with the Aetas at Subic Survival Camp who would then apply their expertise to the Mindoro Trail. The Baclayan Hiking Trails opens this Decemeber. Now Puerto Galera has both lowland and up mountain attractions to engage incoming tourists.

For more information on the Baclayan Hiking Trails visit http://www.puertogalera.net.ph or email [email protected]

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Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.

14 Responses to “Mindoro: Iraya Mangyan’s 10th Kaaldawan Festival”

  1. the same sentiments as photo cache. if these are b-side photos, siguro super ganda ng mga napili for publication. you shoot people’s faces in their most natural setting, ganda ng texture. i like how you frame the boy in the 2nd to the last shot. love the drama in every shot. just wondering, do you cover weddings, Ferdz? or not your cup of tea?

  2. at the risk of being called biased, i’d like to say that photo cache and rayts’ observations are right.
    these are simply amazing shots. knowing how you stay away from post-processing,
    the images are downright stunning. you simply have the knack for taking the most-natural
    people shots. i’d love to see more from this set.

    very interesting din ‘tong mga mangyans talaga. their craftmanship is undeniable talaga.
    i hope their way of living continues to be preserved. whatever tosca is doing,
    sana ituloy tuloy nila not only for the sake of the mangyans but also for ours
    kasi important part sila ng filipino heritage.

  3. you really portrayed the real colors of filipinos Ferdz. galing!

    “Indigenous People such as the Mangyans are part of our rich Filipino Culture”>>> true in fact they are our treasure because they retained the culture.

  4. Indeed, these minorities of ours are considered endangered….in a sense that some of the young generation nowadays won’t accept their roots as Mangyan because people would just laugh at them…Thanks for these photos Ferdz….your photos about this minority boost the morale of the Mangyans in Mindoro.

  5. Thanks Photo Cache! I called them b-sides since they weren’t part of those accepted to be published.

    Thanks Rayts! I was using a tele to capture them as candidly as possible. In terms of wedding, I would say, it’s really not my cup tea but I wouldn’t close my doors on it.

    Thanks Oggie, as you said I never made too much post processing here, aside from the contrast, levels and ev from ACR. Bilib talaga ako sa crafts nila, sana nga lang mas madami display nun.

    Yup Dom! More of golden nga yung colors ng skin nila. True Filipino.

    That’s a sad truth nga Eric. I guess, that not only goes to the Mangyans but other indigenous people as well. There has to be a balance somewhere where we can develop their lives and still retain their heritage.

    Thanks Pao! Medyo adventure nga pag hike but the views are amazing as well.

  6. Very well taken photos, Ferdz, as always. From what I see on your photos, the Kaaldawan festival seems to have very unique atmosphere to it. The festival seems to be not as crowded or colorful as the usual Filipino festival. But it seems to be a very harmonious and sacred celebration, especially to the locals. I think that less grand festivals like these are treasures and should be carried on to future generations. Your photos really tell your travel narratives well.

  7. Thanks BW! It’s a pleasure to share something about the Mangyans.

    Thanks BertN!

    Yes Redge! The Kaadlawan is a small celebration but still very worthwhile and unique. Many thanks for the visit.

    Thanks Kyels! I guess it’s also good to give info about our indigenous brothers

  8. Ganda Ferdz! I like photos that are NOT post-processed. I have to admit, I know very little about festivals celebrated in the Philippines. I hope that in future, I will be able to travel around the country and appreciate its beauty 🙂

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