Bamboo Musical Instruments

Karatong Festival

Karatong Festival is the annual fiesta of Dulag, Leyte. It highlights the Waray bamboo percussion karatong, which in ancient times was used by the Dulagnons as an alarm when an impending danger or calamity would threaten their town (Cagara, interview, 19 October 2019).

Mr. Orlando Cagara, Secretary to the Sanggunian Bayan of Dulag, shared that Dulag’s previous festivals used to be heavily patterned after the Sinulog of the neighboring province of Cebu. In 2019, however, the Dulag local government unit (LGU), under Honorable Mayor Mildred Joy Que, decided to impart their own identity in their festival. At the same time, they wanted an all-bamboo music featured in their festivity. Hence, they elected to develop the karatong and other bamboo musical instruments.

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Cordillera Bamboo Day

The Cordilleras Bamboo Day is an annual event celebrated in the Cordillera region to raise awareness about the importance of bamboo as a resource and its role in the community. The event is typically held on the third weekend of September and is marked by a series of activities that highlight the versatility and versatility of bamboo as a material.

The celebration of the Cordilleras Bamboo Day is a testament to the strong cultural ties the people of the Cordillera region have with bamboo. Bamboo has long been an important part of their lives, and the festival is an opportunity to showcase its many uses and benefits. From construction materials to musical instruments, bamboo is an integral part of the Cordillera community.

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Tultugan Festival

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).

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Las Piñas Bamboo Organ

To date, the Las Piñas Bamboo Organ is the oldest and the largest in the Philippines, and possibly the world (Tagle, interview, 9 February 2020). This musical instrument is the one and only functional organ made of bamboo and is actively used in liturgical services. What sets this apart from the other existing church organs is not only the material from which it is made but also its endurance because it has been around for more than two hundred years. The bamboo organ of Las Piñas is a cultural treasure, the only one of its kind in the Philippines.

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