This week I reported on the Presidential Awards at Malacanang Palace. One of the awardees was Kinding Sindaw, a dance group that draws on indigenous myths and stories throughout Mindanao.
Potri Ranka Manis, a resident now of Queens, New York and the founder of the troupe told me after the ceremony that the award, called the Banaag Award, is a recognition for the arts of a region in the Philippines that is often at the crossroads of violence and conflict.
“When you say Moro, it’s always referring to something bad. This -” she said pointing to the award – “will help us as a group, to change that bias.”
President Aquino appeared to be fighting a cold. After entering Rizal Hall in a burst of applause, a clutch of security guards in white barongs fanned out into the crowd. Aquino took a seat on the stage and repeatedly drank from a clear glass, stifling coughs.
You can check out a brief video I took here, though the sound is a bit low.
After acknowledging that more than ten percent of Filipinos live and work abroad, he addressed the recipients: “It is my fervent hope that you continue your dedicated service and efforts towards the enhancement and improvement of Filipinos.”
The 24 awardees charted impressive accomplishments, but the question was left lingering in the air: how long can the Philippines continue with this rate of emigration and this reliance on workers overseas?
I wrote a full report on the event for Filipinas Magazine, which you can read here.