TULTUGAN MUSIC OF ILOILO
Excerpt from the BMI Ethnography of Maasin’s Tultugan
“Tultug: The Root of Maasin’s Tultugan Festival” By Hermie F. Cartagena
INTRODUCTION AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Bamboo plants are abundant in Maasin. One of the varieties that can be found in the area is the “kawayan tinik” and is produced yearly with more than 2 million poles. Thus, bamboo is the primary material in producing local products and handicrafts in Maasin. The place has been supplying bamboo poles and various handicrafts in Iloilo and has even been exporting them internationally (Marin, 2017). Being one of the primary exporters of bamboo products in the region and the country, this municipality in the central part of Iloilo became known as the bamboo capital of the Visayas. In celebration of the abundant supply of bamboo products in the municipality, the Tultugan Festival was established. The festival, initiated or institutionalized by Mayor Mariano Malones in 1999, is considered a contemporary festival sponsored by the government (Muyco, 2016). Tultugan came from the word “tultug,” which means the act of making sound by tapping or striking the bamboo instrument (Marin, 2017).
The Tultugan Festival is primarily dedicated to bamboo and its various uses and functions. Held every fourth week of December, it features street dancing and a tribal dance competition. The highlight of the celebration is the tribal dance competition that showcases the various usage of bamboo in the community. The performers show how to creatively utilize the bamboo materials as part of the performance, incorporating them into their props, costumes, and instruments. Aside from the street dancing and tribal dance competition, the festival also highlights the “Gwapo Karabaw,” a contest wherein the participants adorn their water buffalos with various ornaments;
“Parada sang Litson,” where roasted pigs are presented in the streets through a parade; “Rara Amakn” contest, wherein the speed in weaving bamboos is tested; “Kadang Race,” a test of balance; and the search for Miss Tultugan (“News Today” 2005, p. 1, paragrap 3).
The festival is a way of preserving the local culture for the next generations to come, and various approaches were applied in redesigning and modernizing the bamboo material. Likewise, various rhythmic patterns were composed and developed by local musicians to provide a dynamic and vibrant sound in the performance (Marin, 2017; Jacinto, 2013).
PRODUCING THE BAMBOO MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
All bamboo instruments and products in the municipality of Maasin are made from the kawayan tinik variety. Ms. Rosemarie Bayag explained that the best time for the harvesting of the Kawayan tinik is from September to January. At this time, the bamboo is mature enough to be crafted as a musical instrument. The diagram below shows the systematic process of making a bamboo instrument from planning up to its final form. For Bayag, the first step in making a bamboo instrument is planning. She explained that an instrument maker should have in mind what kind of instrument he or she desires to make. Secondly, the selection of bamboo must be fit to be crafted as an instrument. For Bayag, the best bamboo material are those bamboos that are situated uphill and have red pigmentations already. She also taps the bamboo pole using a bolo to check for sound quality. For her, not all bamboo has the potential to “sing.” Bayag further explained the science behind this process. According to her, bamboos that are situated uphill have less moisture in their fibers when compared to those bamboos found in the lowland area. She also added that bamboos found uphill are used to dry or humid climates. With that, the bamboo fibers are denser and sturdier. Also, she advised to look for the red pigmentation of the bamboo, which signifies that it is already mature enough and ideal to be constructed as an instrument. She further explained that mature bamboos with denser fibers are better because they produce a brighter and better sound resonance or what she called “nagakanta nga instrumento” (singing instrument).
The third step is choosing the appropriate part of the bamboo fit to be an instrument. According to Bayag, she only cuts and uses the pusog and the puno part of the bamboo – found in the lower part of the bamboo stem. Such parts have thicker bamboo flesh compared to its other parts. This is followed by carefully and neatly cutting or removing some bamboo nodes (for pipes or pitched instruments) and making a slit on one side of the bamboo (for rhythmic types of instrument like tultug). Bayag makes sure that this step is meticulously done for it may affect the sound quality of the instrument.
Lastly, refinement of the instrument is done by checking the sound quality (resonance) and durability. Bayag explained that once the bamboo instrument got cracked or damaged during the refinement stage, it is simply replaced. For her, the sound quality of the bamboo will be affected if adhesive will be applied to fix the broken part of the bamboo.
THE INSTRUMENTS AND THEIR ROLES
The instruments in the municipality of Maasin can be classified into two – rhythmic and pitched. Rhythmic instruments produce sound by striking, stamping, and clashing bamboos. Pitched instruments, on the other hand, produce melodies by striking the surface or tubes of the bamboo. These instruments are set in three octaves tuned to the key of C. The table below explains the method of sound production, melodic range, role in the ensemble, and function in social/cultural activity.
|Method of Sound Production||Melodic Range||Role in the Ensemble||Function in Social/Cultural Activity|
|Tultug||Patik (striking) of the stick on the tultug||Pulse/ timekeeper||Although the instruments may vary in sizes, their function can be taken as one – an accompaniment to Tultugan Festival. As an ensemble, the instruments provide a festive atmosphere in the festival highlighting
the flexibility of bamboo as an instrument.
|Bayong||Stamping (rubbing coating at
the bottom part of then
|Tala-tala||A hand-held instrument, the
sound produced by
clashing the bamboo
|Paraspas||Hand-held instrument; Clashing of the bamboo strips||Rattle/ clapper|
|Gabbang (bamboo xylophone)||Striking the surface of the bamboo||3 octaves tuned in the key of C||Melody|
|Bamboo Pipes||Graduated hallowed bamboos.
Striking the bamboo tubes
from the top covering the
|3 octaves tuned in the key of C||Additional texture; melody|
|Mini Pipes||Graduated hallowed bamboos. From the top, a rubber is stamped to the bamboo covering the entire bamboo
circumference. The sound comes out from the bottom. However, the instrument can be reversed for different sound quality. Rubber stamping is still done at the top of the bamboo instrument covering the
|3 octaves tuned in the key of C||Melody|