Photos from the poster of Buenconsejo’s documentary film Seven Dances of Life. Photo source: José S. Buenconsejo

A music documentary by veteran ethnomusicologist José S. Buenconsejo is among the nominees for Best Documentary in the 41st Gawad Urian.  Buenconsejo is a professor of Musicology of the University of the Philippine Diliman College of Music and a regular member of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) Division of Humanities.

Funded by NRCP, the Seven Dances of Life: Pledges to Others documents an indigenous music that highlights the socio-religious practices of two Sama-speaking communities in Tawi-Tawi Islands in southern Philippines. The film features ethnographic interviews (i.e. relating to the scientific description of peoples and cultures with their customs, habits, and mutual differences) interspersed among a series of dance rituals called Tabawan dance (igal) and Sama ritual celebrations (pagjamu) to portray the mystical bound of an individual to his/her communities and lineages. 

Buenconsejo describes the film as an exploration of the intricately distinct culture of the Sama communities wherein the “individuals are oriented to Others in nature and society and these relationships reveal a sophisticated indigenous thinking about individual lives (inyawa) being "thrown into" the web of invisible connections with other beings in the cosmos: the jin (nature spirits), umagad (souls of the dead), ombo (ancestors) and kembal (twin-spirit).”

The Seven Dances of Life is the third of the documentary series called The Resilient Music at the Margins that documents enduring traditional Philippine music and dance in their cultural and historical contexts. For better appreciation, the video documentary can be viewed in this link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b560PZNiBhI&feature=youtu.be

The Gawad Urian awards night will be held on June 14 at the ABS-CBN tent at Vertis North in Quezon City. The Gawad Urian Awards are annual awards given by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino to outstanding Filipino-made films and documentaries. It is regarded as the counterpart of the New York Film Critics Circle of the US.