Perhaps for the many, letting go of a tradition is simple because of the belief that “things of the past should stay in the past”.
However, that is not the case for Ingat Kapandayan Artist Center. Ingat Kapandayan Artist Center is a school-based theater arts group of the Notre Dame of Jolo College. They are now the cultural arm of the college that seeks to preserve their tradition, and promote the cultural heritage of the Suluans through artistic performances. “It is very alarming for us to know that our culture and tradition is being forgotten by the locals, especially the young ones. Modernization has posed threats to our cultural dance. Many young people choose to dance along with modern music instead of our own,” says Al Rasul Alih, Ingat Kapandayan Artist Center’s current president. For Alih, this lack of interest and knowledge about their culture by the youth needs to stop. Their project entry, Ingat Kapandayan Artist Center: Continuing Tausug Pangala Dance Legacy, is the organization’s way of promoting and preserving the culture of the Tausug dance legacy. The organization currently has more than 100 members that have undergone auditions and intensive trainings.
Pangalay is a dance of gracefulness and modesty, characterized by graceful movements of the shoulders, elbows and wrists. By conducting various Pangalay dance workshops, inviting cultural experts, and performing in different schools annually, the 13-year-old group wants to encourage young people to continue the Tausug Pangalay Dance Legacy.
“We believe that we have an obligation to share our learnings to them. We make it a point to instill these values in kids because they are our future,” Alih says.
“I started with only the desire to learn,” says Alih, “but now I did not only enhance my talent but also I grew as a person that embraces our culture and our people.”
The organization also tries to promote peace and bridge gaps between different races and religions. They train non-Tausug and Tausug, both Christians and Muslims. Another mission of the Ingat Kapandayan Artist Center is to change the way people think of their homeland, Sulu. Instead of violence and war, the group wants to shift the spotlight to their colorful and diverse culture through their performances.
Every performance is bound to an end, but culture and tradition are not. The group plans to continue their passion in dancing, preserving their culture, and reaching as many people as they can. For with every step and rhythm, they reach at least one person and introduces the value of their tradition — and unlike the minute-long music, they will not stop. After all, it is what shapes their identity. It is who they are.