Two of the resident theatre companies of the Mindanao State University System (MSUS) are performing virtually during the 27th Iligan National Writers Workshop (INWW) on November 30 and on December 6, 2020, respectively.

For their vibrant and dynamic promotion of culture and arts in the regions, both groups were honored recently by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Kaisa sa Sining Gador Awards.

It is auspicious therefore, that the MSUS performing groups lend their prestige to the workshop by performing excerpts of two renowned epics, the Meranaw Darangen and the Sanskrit classic, Ramayana. 

The MSU main campus’s Sining Kambayoka Ensemble (SKE), one of the oldest theatre groups in the country is performing “Kalimbay”.

The performance depicts the indigenous manner of feminine walk ”kinikini”of the epic’s noble women dressed in their finery, or in the best Malongs in traditional colors, their hair arranged in the fashion called “pinalot” that shows, at a glance, if the woman is married or not.

The SKE has performed around the country and abroad promoting the folklore of the Meranaw. The Meranaws are known as the people of the lake referring to Lake Lanao, one of the country’s deepest and coolest lakes.

In 2015, this ca.14th Century Darangen was hailed as a UNESCO Intangible Heritage for Humanity. The MSU main campus Folklore Division, with grants from the Toyota Foundation, has re-published a series of the Darangen, in handsome volumes available for sale. 

On the other hand, the MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) Resident Theatre Company, Integrated Performing Arts Guild (IPAG) performs an indigenized version from the Indian epic, Ramayana dubbed “Sita: Ramayana Revisited” that premiered during the 2015 Asia Pacific Bond Festival in Singapore. This IPAG production has been performed to much acclaim in festivals such as the ASEAN-Indian Summit in New Delhi, the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, in Kolkata, Mumbai, and highlighted the significant Diwali Festival in Ayodhya, the birthplace of the kingdom’s hero Rama.      

MSU-IIT Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Dr. Polaus M. Bari welcomes participants that include four international writing fellows from Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and India as well as three Senior Writing Fellows, 12 regular Writing Fellows, and 11 panelists including two from abroad.

Workshop Director Dr. Christine F. Godinez Ortega opens the workshop with a reminder of a writer’s freedom and professionalism and creativity as human resource that opens many doors.

On December 1, 2020, the National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose delivers his keynote lecture to workshop participants.

The Iligan workshop opens on November 30, 2020 by Zoom conference and ends on December 6. The Zoom conference is to be facilitated by the MSU-IIT MICEL.  — INWW