LEGEND has it that the Mangyans are a “white race” and “tailed-people” who lived in the island of Mindoro.

But in meeting Betty Ungay, a 21-year-old Mangyan, Thomasians saw neither a white-complexioned nor a tailed native. Instead, they saw an ordinary Filipina who is deeply attached to her culture.

Ungay was a volunteer in an interactive exhibit on the Mangyans last Aug. 23 to Sept. 2 at the Beato Angelico Gallery. The 10-day exhibit was organized by the Center for Intercultural Studies (CIS), Beato Angelico Gallery, and Mangyan Heritage Center (MHC).

“As a research center, we need to make Thomasians aware of different Filipino cultures by knowing the natives themselves,” CIS director Cynthia Luz Rivera told the Varsitarian.

“Mangyan” is the general name for the eight tribes in Mindoro, namely Ikaya, Alangan, Tadyawan, Tau-Buid, Bangon, Buhid, Hanunoo, Ratagnon. There are an estimated 100,000 Mangyans in Mindoro. Since most of the island is mountainous, there is little knowledge about the Mangyans.

“UST is the only university that has an interactive exhibit where students can meet a Mangyan. For example, we have asked Ungay to teach students how to weave. We are also the first university to put up a lifesize Mangyan syllabic writing,” Mary Ann Bulanadi, supervisor of the Beato Gallery, told the Varistarian.

The exhibit also displayed basic demographic information about Mangyans; their native clothing like the linggon and the ramit; hunting tools such as spears; musical instruments like the gitgit, a three-string indigenous violin with human hair as strings; Mangyan poetry or the Ambahan; and syllabic writing that is closely similar to Indian writing. There was also a video presentation on discrimination against the Mangyans.

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“I love my culture and that is the reason why I have reservations about modernity,” Ungay said. Ungay came from the tribe of Hanunoo and has been working as a cashier at the MHC for three months. She graduated from a three-year course on technology at the Filipino Academy of Scientific Trades. K. J. R. Liu

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