Road to accomplishment: The UC Hapiyoh Mi Cultural Group

November 27, 2011

"Accomplishment" did not happen overnight for the University of the Cordilleras (UC) Hapiyoh Mi Cultural Group, instead the ensemble's selection as one of the "Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations" (TAYO) for 2011 is the result of more than a decade of evolution where unqualified dedication, commitment and hard work have been the norm of the members in their quest to fulfill the group's objectives on stage and in the community.

"This is as much the work of the UC alumni who were pioneering members of the Hapiyoh Mi group as its current membership," Creative director and adviser Maria Catbagan Aplaten said. The group's annual "Summer Cultural Workshop" project was feted in the 9th TAYO awards rites held at the Malacañang Palace last October 27, together with the projects of nine youth groups nationwide.

"We are honored by this recognition even if originally the summer cultural workshop was intended simply to promote awareness among the youth of the richness of the Cordillera culture," said Aplaten, associate professor of History at the UC College of Teacher Education. She said in a practical sense, it was a way to identify future members of the group by recognizing potential talents arising from the five-day workshop.

Aplaten said the choice to enter the group's annual activity in the TAYO awards stemmed from an invitation from the TAYO Awards Foundation Inc. through the UC Office of Student Affairs and Services (OSAS) to submit for the search, project profiles undertaken by the youth on the criteria: impact of project to stakeholders, spirit of volunteerism and citizenship, creativity and innovation, sustainability and effective use of resources. Aplaten through UC OSAS staff Gladys Rudio said the criteria appeared to dovetail into the workshop's objectives thus the decision to enter in the Luzon-wide qualifications in May of 2011.

The UC Hapiyoh Mi cultural group began as a Philippine Society and Culture classroom activity of Prof. Aplaten who taught the subject at UC in 2000. Her students' demonstration of an Ifugao dance provided her with the working concept for the creation of a university cultural group. It was not called "Hapiyoh Mi" then but because the members of the group that did the class demonstration were Ifugao, they decided to call their seminal group, "Hapiyoh Mi" which is Ifugao for "our shield," also in reference to UC's emblem, an indigenous warrior's shield.

As the group developed into cultural performers under the UC Center for Creative Productions, Aplaten, a theater arts enthusiast, had to sustain the group's membership, recruiting new ones in place of graduates. Aplaten said the summer arts workshop in fact started as a "recruitment camp," but as word of the workshop spread, they found themselves catering to requests from other students, out-of-school youth, as well as non-government and government organizations for participation in the workshop.

She said workshop participants appear to value the learning drawn from the activity itemized into musical instrumentation, song and dance, construction of bamboo musical instruments and stage presentation. Aplaten said the group's material on Cordillera instrumentation, dances and songs were the result of individual research by members who belong to Cordillera ethno-linguistic groups and from her travels to the region.

Songs and dances collected regionwide by the group were the subject of an ensemble presentation in the Commission on Higher Education's (CHED) 2010 National Academic and Cultural Festival and competition where it resulted in a 1st runner-up finish by the group.

The group which supports ten high school scholars from barangay Yagyagan in Sablan, Benguet will allocate the bulk of their TAYO grant into the scholarship fund inspired by UC's 65th school year initiative of sharing institutional resources, competencies and knowledge, Aplaten said.

She added these scholars will also participate in the next "Summer Cultural Workshop." If qualified, they will join the next batch of Hapiyoh Mi members who will be awarded scholarship grants through UC's incentive for students who are in the performing arts.

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