One of the things I love when I travel is meeting great people. The likes of Lang Dulay+ (a National Living Treasure Awardee) and Saudi Ahmad (dubbed as one of Minadano's greatest artist) whom I met in my previous travels to South Cotabato and Zamboanga Sibugay, respectively. That is why, I am so happy that when we visited Lamitan Basilan in 2013, we had the once in a lifetime chance to meet Uwang Ahadas.
He is a "National Living Treasure Awardee" for music recognized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
According to the NCCA website, "Uwang Ahadas is a Yakan, a people to whom instrumental music is of much significance, connected as it is with both the agricultural cycle and the social realm. With this heritage, as rich as it is steeped in music, it is no wonder that even as a young child, Uwang joyously embraced the demands and the discipline necessitated by his art. His training began with the ardent observation of the older, more knowledgeable players in his community. His own family, gifted with a strong tradition in music, complemented the instruction he received. He and his siblings were all encouraged to learn how to play the different Yakan instruments, as these were part of the legacy of his ancestors."
Yakan tradition sets the kwintangan as a woman’s instrument and the agung, a man's. His genius and his resolve, however, broke through this tradition. By the age of twenty, he had mastered the most important of the Yakan musical instruments, the kwintangan among them.
Honestly, I don't know much about him before we met. I just know that he is a "National Living Treasure Awardee." But through our short conversation during our meeting in Lamitan, I learned that despite being near-blindness, he still continues to travel in other towns of Basilan where he always finds warm welcome from students, young and old, who eagerly await for his arrival. Uwang's teaching style is hands-on which made him build a close and enduring ties with people in the places he visits.
Many thanks to Lamitan City Tourism Office for making this a reality. As Uwang Ahadas is always moving around Basilan to share his expertise in music, it is best to coordinate with Lamitan City Tourism Office thru their Facebook account Lamitan Kong Mahal if you wish to schedule a meeting with him.
How to Get to Lamitan, Basilan
Zamboanga City is the main gateway to the province of Basilan. From Manila, take a flight to Zamboanga City. Upon reaching Zamboanga City, take a jeepney bound for Canelar and walk towards Zamboanga City Port. Ride a fast craft or a ferry boat to Isabela City or directly to Lamitan, Basilan. If via Isabela City, take a van or a mini bus that would take you to Lamitan City.
Read more about Basilan, here.
Note: This trip to Lamitan, Basilan happened in August 6, 2013.
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