Lead artist Danongan Sibay Kalanduyan, professor Danilo Begonia of the Ethnic Studies Department (now College of Ethnic Studies) at San Francisco State University, and the Ating Tao Drum Circle, a Filipino American student performing group, collaborated to create and perform new works based on traditional kulintang music and dance.
Music of the kulintang (eight tuned, knobbed gongs suspended in a wooden frame) is rooted in the Mindanao region of the Southern Philippines. Master Kalanduyan, a virtuoso musician, and Ating Tao worked to illuminate the role of tradition in addressing the complexity of Filipino American identity. Their project brought in the new modes of expression practiced by Ating Tao to complement, embellish, and orbit around the indigenous kulintang form.
Over two years of rigorous, weekly practice, rehearsals, and artistic development, the collaborators created a collection of new performing arts pieces. Work-in-progress events were followed by performances in community festivals and events. Professor Danilo Begonia managed logistics and operations for project development and the culminating performances. The partners continued playing together after the grant period ended.
Born in a fishing village in the Cotabato area of Mindanao, Danongan Kalanduyan was raised in a strong traditional music environment. He was a master of all aspects of the Maguindanao tribal styles of kulintang music and has been a central artistic figure in virtually all major Filipino-American communities for nearly two decades. In 1995 he received the National Heritage Fellowship, granted by the National Endowment for the Arts. Most of his prior work in the United States was developed with his own Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble. Master Kalanduyan passed away in September 2016.