Wanted: Uggayam chanters

BAGUIO CITY – The city needs to discover more uggayam chanters if only to relieve Igorot chant doyen Mayor Mauricio Domogan of this extra task from time to time.

Domogan in his press briefing last Wednesday expressed his wish for an uggayam singer to surface as he recounted his struggle to attend the Baguio Flower Festival 2016 opening program last Feb. 1 only a few days after undergoing an appendectomy.

The mayor said he was not supposed to attend the program but he went just the same because, “I did not want to let our colleagues (in the Baguio Flower Festival Foundation Inc. and the city government) down during this important event.”

He may not have said it directly but he was also concerned as to who will render the uggayam as a form of prayer and blessing for the opening rites of the city’s major tourism event.

Despite his post-operation condition, the mayor managed to deliver his traditional melodic verses and impromptu lyrics with usual flair.

Uggayam is a “traditional vocal music” or “ethnic melody” of the Cordillerans sung in all occasions except during funeral rites. It has no fixed lyrics and the words are supplied extemporaneously by the singer according to the occasion. It is described to have “poetic form wherein the endings of the verses rhyme.”

In his entire career as government official, Domogan has become the virtual go-to man for uggayam performances during important city occasions and even in regular social events. His performances of the traditional chant have almost always become the center of attraction and awaited highlight of the programs so much so that uggayam has become his trademark of sorts.

But the mayor now sees the need for more chanters to come forward for the times that he is indisposed.

“I hope somebody else will be discovered to do it aside from me. I believe there are others out there who can do it a lot better than I do. It is just a matter of them coming forward,” the mayor said.

He said to be an effective uggayam chanter, one has to have a quick mind not just to weave meaningful thoughts but also to make the words rhyme.

Otherwise, even if your message is significant, it would still sound flat if the words do not rhyme, he advised./A Refuerzo


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