The Philippine Embassy in London unveiled the portraits of the Panay Bukidnon in the first solo exhibition by Filipino portraitist Rosalima Lamey called “Mountain Spirit.” The exhibition runs from 21 March to 04 April, with curated tours arranged by appointment.
The Panay Bukidnon are one of only two indigenous communities in the Visayas, the other being the Iraynun-Bukidnon. Also known as the Tumandok or Suludnon, the Panay Bukidnon communities are scattered among the hinterlands of Panay, particularly in the interiors of Tapaz, Capiz. Because of this isolation, several of the community’s pre-Hispanic practices persist to this day. The community of around 18,000 speaks its own language called Ligbok or Igbok, a language related to Panay’s Kinaray-a language.
“I was inspired to mount this exhibition because of my desire to show people the beauty and uniqueness of my cultural roots,” said Lamey, who is descended from a Panay Bukidnon binukot in Nayawan. Lamey returned to Nayawan decades after leaving the Philippines to reconnect with her community.
In Panay Bukidnon culture, a binukot or kept maiden, is a woman who is kept in seclusion since childhood and who is raised to be the bearer and keeper of Panay Bukidnon culture. Lamey’s mother was selected at an early age to play this role until she left the community after marrying Lamey’s father.
Apart from this mystic practice, the Panay Bukidnon are known for their panubok embroidery, which is steeped in symbolism; for the Sugidanon epic, one of the longest epics in the Philippines, which takes more than 20 days of continuous chanting; and for the binanog dance, a ceremonial ritual dance that mimicks the flight of an eagle.
“Rosalima, has become a bearer of the community’s culture by carrying its rich traditions with her to wherever it is that the fates bring her – be it to New York, San Francisco, or London. And she carries the Panay Bukidnon culture with her through her art,” said Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo. “The Embassy is honoured to host Mountain Spirit, Rosalima’s solo exhibition, not only because it affords us a glimpse into the unique culture of the Panay Bukidnon, but also because it highlights the many layers and complexities of Philippine culture. If this exhibit would make our citizens proud of their cultural heritage, it would have already met the Embassy’s expectations.”
Alongside the portrait exhibition, the Embassy also mounted a parallel display of Panay Bukidnon embroidery, which has drawn fashion and textiles enthusiasts since the exhibition opened.