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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

entry arrow5:51 PM | Songs in the Measure of Tagay

The inuman -- the informal social gathering of men (mostly men, anyway) outside of the house, in the open air, and usually near a very convenient sari-sari store, which is dedicated to occasional camaraderie, spirited conversation, and the imbibing of alcohol (traditionally the tubâ or palm wine) -- is a curious cultural thing. I passed by one last night on the way to dinner, and found myself shaking my head in disapproval, perhaps because it is such a macho tradition among Filipinos, and I admit to having an instinctive disapproval of anything that reeked of machismo.

But then again I can't really be sure about my attitude towards it because the inuman itself is a very rich cultural institution, one that has poetic roots. One of its components, the tagay or the measured drinking offered to each member of the inuman, has been argued by Merlie Alunan to be one of the roots of the Cebuano balak, or poetry. And now, going through the six volumes of Visayan folk songs collected by Priscilla Magdamo in the early 1950s, I've also found that the tagay was a favorite musical muse. So far, I've found four folk songs dedicated to the tagay -- and understandably so. (Because drunken singing is generally a by-product of such things.)

One folk song is titled "Uhaw Tagay," collected and transcribed by Ms. Magdamo from a recording made with folk singers Francisco and Severina Macahis, and it goes like this:

         Ay Liding, Liding, Liding
         Ay Liding, Liding, Liding
         Uhaw tagay
         Uhaw tagay.

         Kon walay sumsuman,
         Ihawon ang hinuktan.
         Uhaw tagay
         Uhaw tagay.

I'm not sure what the hinuktan (or the something that is tied up) here refers to. (A pig? A chicken?) But whatever it is, it will be delicious. Research is fun!

I'm doing a bit of research right now for a musical revue I'm writing, based on some of these songs, particularly the lullabies. What are in these books is a treasure trove of Visayan folk songs collected by the legendary musicologist and pioneer Priscilla Magdamo, who really should be proclaimed National Artist for Music. (Even Lucresia Kasilag believes so.)

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