GRACE NONO
"D I W A"

"Diwa" is a Tagalog word that means "essence" or the intrinsic nature of things; "soul," or cause of inspiration and energy; "spirit" or a human being's moral, religious or emotional nature; "thread" or main thought that connects different parts; "sense"; "consciousness"; "gist"; "meaning"; "idea". (English)1

The word "diwa" may have been one of Sanskrit loanwords infused by Philippine languages as a result of the maritime trade movements around the 7th century A.D. The word may have been derived from the words "deva" which means "divine being" (Dada Shibesh)2; or "jiva," which means "someone living," or "someone with thought capability" (Francisco)3. The phonological development of "jiva" to "diwa" may have been caused by the intervening languages "Javanese and Malay, through which the Philippine languages had made that cultural contact." (Francisco)4

Diwa "lies at the core of our kalooban (selves), and from which emanate all personal and social sentiments. It holds together the physical and spiritual elements of existence and transforms them into one functioning whole called buhay or life." (Jocano)5

Intimation is the expression of "sinasaloob" or innermost thoughts and feelings.

MAKING THIS ALBUM HAS BEEN A MOST TEDIOUS, EXHILERATING JOURNEY. IN SEEKING MY VOICE, I LISTENED TO THE SPIRIT SPEAKING IN DAY TO DAY SITUATIONS, IN DREAMS AND IN OTHER PEOPLE'S STORIES, PERMEATING THE AIR IN MOUNTAIN CLEARINGS, RIVER VALLEYS, BACKSTREET ALLEYS, ACADEMIC HALLS, FOREIGN SHORES, CABLE TV, THE ELECTRONIC SUPER-HIGHWAY. . . AS SUCH, THE VOICE THAT YOU HEAR IN THIS ALBUM HAS BECOME A MERGING OF MANY VOICES; A MERGING THAT TRANSPIRED IN THE COURSE OF LIVING AND MUSIC-MAKING. TO GET TO KNOW THIS VOICE I NOW REALIZE, IS TO RESPECT ITS FRAGMENTEDNESS, WHILE ACKNOWLEDGING ITS INHERENT UNITY, AS ONE THAT IN THIS OCCASION, HAS BEEN GIVEN LIFE BY THE SAME BREATH.

SEVERAL QUESTIONS GUIDED ME ALONG THE WAY. ONE IS WHETHER THIS VOICE THAT I SEEK IS AN ESSENTIAL QUALITY LYING UNDERNEATH THE LAYERS CROSS-CULTURAL FUSION THAT LIFE HAS GATHERED OVER ITS CORE; OR IF THIS VOICE IS THE CONSTANT PROCESS OF BECOMING AND EVERYTHING THAT HISTORY IS CONTINUALLY SHAPING IT TO BE. NOW I KNOW THAT MY VOICE EMBODIES ALL OPPOSING DEFINITIONS THAT EXIST IN THIS WORLD, AND MUCH MORE BESIDES.

THROUGH THESE INTIMATIONS ON AND WITH THE SPIRIT, MAY INNERMOST HOPES, NEEDS, FEARS AND DREAMS BE POURED OUT TO THE RAIN AND TO THE WIND, TO SKYSCRAPERS AND JET PLANES, AND TO YOU. IN RETURN, MAY I RECEIVE STRENGTH AND RESOLVE TO GO ON LIVING IN THESE TURBULENT TIMES, DREAMING, CHANTING, COMMUNING WITH MY GOD, GETTING TO KNOW MY ANCESTOR, BLESSING BOTH FRIEND AND FOE, DETERMINING FREELY A FUTURE FOR MYSELF AND FOR MY CHILDREN. AND IN ALL OF THESE, MAY I FIND DIWA THAT IS THE SAME FOR ME, AS IT IS FOR YOU.

In general, we Filipinos are a spirit-centered people. This, I have seen with my own eyes in my dealings with tribal elders, shamans, teachers, healers, missionaries, rural and urban communities. That Filipinos are a spiritual people is also the conclusion of various international studies on cross-cultural values like the one conducted by the Gallup Polls in 1979 where Filipino respondents scored the highest in matters of religion and spirituality, followed only by India, Brazil, and the United States. (Tsukuba University, 1980)6 So that whether you are one steeped in the traditional belief system of your tribe that places above all else the harmonious relationship between human beings and the Supreme Creator and its helper spirits in nature; or one who has embraced as your own any of the religious systems that have been introduced to our shores throughout history; whether you are one so certain of your path or one who's fallen out of it in your continuing search for truth; the image is generally that of a people acknowledging the existence of a reality beyond what is seen, heard, touched, smelled and tasted; a reality that though intangible, gives hope, strength, courage, understanding, joy, and meaning to existence. So that whatever problems we may have now resulting from our frantic pursuit of material progress; whatever conflicts we may have due to our own lack of respect for the myriad and unimaginable ways through which the spirit works, all we have to do is perhaps to stop for a moment to listen to the voice within, to try to remember our true selves, our common origin and destination, and from there, bless everyone and everything, because in all, truly, the spirit is.

Seen as a body of work, this album contains selected musical and ideological elements from the entire history of the Philippines: from the indigenous, Southeast Asia-related base culture that stretches up to 50,000 B.C. or earlier; to the Chinese, Indian, Arabic overlays that came to the islands mainly as a result of pre-colonial trade and traffic that began in the 5th century or earlier; the Spanish-European overlay cemented through more than three centuries of Spanish colonization; the American overlay that predominates up to this day; and finally, the various external, aboriginal overlays brought about by today's information revolution that has made worldwide cultures highly accessible. As such, "Diwa" illustrates historical and cultural dynamism resulting from both internally-motivated developments, as well as through inter-action with other cultures; a case of cultural creativity in its appropriation of elements and processes derived from various cultural systems, to create a new whole. But more than a mere theoretical illustration of acculturative processes, "Diwa" is most importantly, a lived experience, one that is the fruit of actual artistic expression and search for meaning and identity by its creators; an assertion of what it means to be Filipino, in ever-changing times.

Thematically a compilation of intimations, with pieces written and composed by Filipinos from varying historical and cultural backgrounds, as well as by foreign composers whose works have been assimilated by the Filipino people, "Diwa" illustrates ideological acculturation in the level of "sinasaloob," or innermost thoughts and feelings as expressed though conversations with the spirit in all, in the self, and in the other.

Notes:

1 Leo James English, Tagalog-English Dictionary, Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, 1986.
2 From an interview with Dada Shibesh, 2001
3 From an interview with Dr. Juan Francisco, 2001
4 Juan R. Francisco, "Indian Culture in the Philippines: Views and Reviews".
Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya, 1985, p. 14
5 F. Landa Jocano, "Filipino Value System: A Cultural Definition", Anthropology of the Filipino People
IV. Manila: Punlad Research House Inc., 1999, p. 86, 87.
6 Serafin Talisayon, "Filipino Values: Determinants of Philippine Future," Economic Development
Foundation, 1990, p.16.

 

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