Waway Saway on videos and books on peace for children
“Iitsa, tamoka, yataki, tumbi!” “Iitsa, tamoka,
Iitsa, tamoka, yataki, tumbi! (That’s throw, catch, step and stamp!)
I thought for a while it was a line in a Kenyan song I learned from
someplace else, but the words sounded familiar even if it was belted
out in a universal beat.
Waway Saway’s song lingered in my hearing perimeter even hours after
watching a video on it, which he posted at Youtube.com.
The song was about care for the environment in which the singer urged
the listeners to throw, catch, step and stamp on one’s fear against
caring for the environment.
The video showed Gali (“fellow” or Binukid equivalent to Cebuano’s
“Bai”) perform in an international audience with fellow Talaandig
artist Balugto Necosia in a peace concert in South Korea’s tourist
favorite Naminara Island.Waway said they were met very warmly by their audience, including
their fellow delegates to the 4th Nami Island International Children’s
Book Festival from May 1 to June 30.
I think they performed during one of the gathering’s featured events,
the World Traditional Music Festival. Waway and his Talaandig flock
performed in other Korean cities, too, in time for the festival. Waway
himself has performed in many countries.
It was clear from the photos and videos I saw about the trip that
Waway and Balugto spent their one month “working vacation” with a
It was a book festival but he said instead they exhibited their soil
painting artworks in lieu of printed materials. A painting on
Talaandig epic hero Agyu, was among those exhibited.
As Waway was recalling stories of his travails in the “Land of the
Morning Calm” he couldn’t hide his enthusiasm about how inspired he
was to start writing and producing multi-media outputs about local and
indigenous children’s stories.
Ooops, he was actually interested in producing videos and other
multi-media outputs on other facets of their tribe’s culture, history
Inspired by Moro writer and filmmaker Teng Mangansakan, Waway is vocal
about his push to present more appealing media to relay culture. So
that explains why his videos on soil painting, the Talaandig tribe and
many others have invaded Youtube.com.
Going back to children’s books.
There are so many stories for children that are no longer in
circulation, Waway said. Those few we have are from far-away foreign
lands, of once-upon-a-time tradition telling stories of other peoples
It seems we have forgotten about our own chest of stories that are
inspiring and meaningful. Above all, they are ours.
Instead our children now kill their time on computer network games, if
they are not glued to “kiddie” television aka Japanese anime of
At one point he said children stories can be a way to peace since the
stories relate much about peace-loving heroes and ordinary people.
That’s when I heard about the nanangen (story) of Bata Mama and Bata Bae.
He said it was a beautiful narrative of family love, a brother’s
compassionate care to his little sister, a story of protection and
Waway is especially proud of the stories from his tribe.
“Imagine the stories if we can show them in pictures in books and
films!” he shared.
He cited that while there might be no problem on storytellers, trouble
is in illustrators and technology to produce more books and videos.
I’m pretty sure our children could be able to identify with the
stories from the local community if only they have access to them.
But aren’t children more well-versed about Pokemon, Naruto and other
stories that beget themes on conflict and war?
“The central theme is that before you find peace and harmony there has
to be clashes; but there’s a peaceful way to do it; that’s why there
should be a need to look at these books to feature more untold stories
that promote peace from our communities,” Waway, a father of six,
explained in the best of his element.
Sometimes there had been accounts in old books and museums, he said,
but people go to museums for their curiosity about museums.
It might really be time to produce local books, videos, and other
multi-media outputs that match the dynamic local culture and history.
That should also bring more interest to what is local, right?
“Isn’t that supposed to be work of tourism?” Waway said matter-of-factly.
There’s never really enough time to talk with Waway, not when the
jetsetter Talaandig hops from one musical or art event to another in
Songco, any point of the country or even the world.
In between my questions and his answers on that cloudy evening
interview, he kept his humor and sense in tact, always showing he
meant to do what he said.
I was seated across an artist, performer, filmmaker, and a future
children’s book author?
Now that’s what “multi-media” really meant for this multi-tasking
“gali”, truly, a citizen of the world. (Walter I. Balane)