Carving on Wood near a Lost River
Laya Gonzales (University of the Philippines)
Paper short abstract:
The study deals with ecologies of aesthetic transformation in Santa Ursula, a woodcarving community situated in Central Luzon, Philippines. The paper shall focus on the mandukit (woodcarver) after a volcanic eruption in 1991 and a series of floods that carried lahar altered the physical landscape.
Paper long abstract:
The mandukit of Sta. Ursula dwell in the district of Betis, situated in the Municipality of Guagua, Pampanga Province. The municipality of Guagua was called "mouth of a river" because it used to be an entry point of boats coming from Manila (the main capital and port city) and other navigational routes within the archipelago. Before Betis became a district, the place was one of the oldest riverine towns established during the Spanish colonial period. Therefore, the place continues to have some of the oldest churches in the Philippines and has endured a long tradition of carving Catholic imagery on wood. Subsequent typhoons immediately followed the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The subsequent floods that often inundated the landscape brought lahar even years after the volcanic eruption. Thus, Sta. Ursula (and much of the terrain in Pampanga) was permanently transformed. How does the imaginative mandukit play an active role in the transformation of the woodcarving tradition after the district suffered from the disastrous effects of the volcanic eruption? The processes of artistic transformation and creative recovery are also situated along the confluence of several factors that ebb and flow. To name but a few, the temporary flight of the United States military presence and the Philippine state's aspiration for progress as a tiger economy are staged in the late 1990s. The paper shall examine the community-based initiatives vis a vis the dynamics of patronage that sustained the mandukit throughout the process of post-disaster recovery.
Dwelling in an evanescent landscape: people's strategies to deal with chronical uncertainty