- Síbod: Ideology and Expressivity in Binanog Dance, Music, and Folkways of the Panay Bukidnon by Maria Christine Muyco
Síbod: Ideology and Expressivity in Binanog Dance, Music, and Folkways of the Panay Bukidnon
Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2016. 243pages.
Dr. Maria Christine Muyco, a faculty member in the College of Music at the University of the Philippines and highly accomplished composer, turns her scholarly attention to the Panay Bukidnon in Síbod: Ideology and Expressivity in Binanog Dance, Music, and Folkways of the Panay Bukidnon. Her commitment to the study of this group extends beyond this monograph to include, among other things, a CD recording, Tayuyon Music of the Panay Bukidnon (2009); a documentary film entitled “Ga-Sibud Dai a!”: Music, Dance, and Society in Highland Panay, Philippines; and cultural advocacy through her nongovernment organization Balay Patawili.
Living in the highlands of Panay island, the Panay Bukidnon (also Suludnon) are commonly highlighted as the only indigenous people of that area, a result of geographical remoteness from centuries of Spanish and US colonization and a classification based on notions of culture rather than ancestry. Despite their seeming isolation, however, exposure to media, the regularity of movement to buy and sell goods with lowlanders, and migration for work have contributed to a continuing cultural vibrancy in which some traditions persist with salience and others fall into disuse. For [End Page 261] example, while outsiders have been fascinated with the practice of raising a binukot, in which families hid away a daughter from childhood to keep her skin protected from the sun and train her in embroidery, dance, and epic chanting, contemporary Panay Bukidnon have left this tradition behind. The people continue to participate in local music and dance genres, seek help from a babaylan (roughly translating as a healer and/or spirit medium), and engage with other traditions in their homes and through a cultural school.
Muyco’s fieldwork took place over several years, including an intensive immersion during 2001 in various villages and with different practitioners. The central idea around which the text operates is the concept of síbod, which she introduces as “an experience of flow . . . a state of having achieved mastery in different levels of structural and creative interplays” (xii). As her descriptions of music, dance, textiles, and other activities of Panay Bukidnon life progress, we also understand síbod to encompass synchronicity, focus, and even appropriate collective sociality. Her outlining of the complexities of síbod and how it inflects various arenas of life experience while also connecting them all is an exercise in ethnotheory, giving readers a framework through which to better understand the local worldview. Simultaneously, Muyco references numerous Filipino, European, and US scholars (sometimes with such brevity and with enough frequency to distract from her narrative), situating this monograph well within contemporary ethnomusicology. In this work she is able to introduce síbod to the wider scholarly world, offer a lens through which to better understand the Panay Bukidnon worldview, and explain how an ideology manifests across realms of practice, not so much as an organizing principle but rather one that is both a guide and a goal of social expressions.
To better explain the concept of síbod, Muyco begins with the oral tradition of sugid, a type of storytelling accompanied by conversations among participants that clarify meanings embedded within the narrative. Sugid uses metaphors to instill positive social values associated with síbod, such as equal sharing and working together well. In turn, the graceful banog (hawk-eagle) of the sugid tale inspires movements recreated by dancers of the binanog, a music-dance performance in which the synchronicity of sound and movement is paramount. To flow musically and bodily in sync is also to produce emotional and interpersonal harmony, other hallmarks of síbod.
The body of the book provides ample context for understanding general aspects of Panay Bukidnon daily life and social dynamics as well as how síbod [End Page 262] plays a role across arenas of experience. While some passages in the first part of the book read much like traditional anthropological reportage, Muyco finds her rhetorical...