Dreaming of the Dagmay

Since most of the younger ones are studying in the cities, they could target the youth who are out of school and enable them to earn a living.

But they don’t yet have the funds to realize their dream.

For the Mandayas, the dagmay is not just an ordinary cloth. Each design is considered sacred, a keepsake from the Tagamaling. It should not be desecrated by tearing it apart or cutting it. Some designs, like the tinagamaling, are considered too sacred that these are not allowed to be sold, said Diano. Other designs like binuaya augur well for the one wearing it because buaya (crocodile) represents a guardian, a protector.

But they believe that cutting the man in the design featuring the otaw (man) is ominous. It will make people sick. “If you use the scissors to cut the dagmay, just make sure that you keep the (man) design intact,” he said. The man represents the Tagamaling, the spirit who had bequeathed to the tribe the design of the dagmay. But sometimes, too, the man may represent the people of the tribe, said Diano.

But as the dagmay caught the fancy of enterprising people, tourist shops in the province started displaying it and the tourism office began advertising it in their brochures.

In some instances, the original dagmay designs have been embellished with new elements that were not in those dreams. Some of the newer dagmay are made of softer cloth, unlike the original ones made of abaca, which are harder and take longer to make.

“The modern-day dagmay already incorporates new designs,” Diano said. “The new designs should enrich, not desecrate the old,” said Diano.

Diano recalls the days when the act of weaving the dagmay was accorded high respect; when the weaver stayed in the upper part of the house where no one could disturb her, when everyone had to observe silence and children were forbidden from shouting. When people in the house would scamper to give the weaver whatever she asked.

Even before the first Spaniards arrived in Mindanao in the 17th century, the Mandayas were already living in the town of Caraga and most of Davao Oriental. They did not really call themselves Mandaya, which means people in the west of the waters, (daya means west) but waves of settlers from Visayas and Luzon in the last century pushed them far into the hinterlands, and gave them that name. For them, they are simply people who live here.

The Mandayas of Caraga are clamoring for their ancestral domain, their claim to which has not been recognized to this day. Since the tribe’s culture is closely linked to their land and their right to self-determination, the survival of such a piece of tradition as the dagmay depends so much on their survival as a people.

The art of making the dagmay takes time, Diano said. “It’s not something that you do in a hurry,” he said. Each design carries with it its own story, which the young weaver learning how to make the dagmay for the first time, hears as she learns to weave. This was how Masandag first learned of the story of the maiden.

Now, in an age obsessed with speed and fast-pace consumption, the art of dagmay-making is quickly being left out. “It will take time for the young people to learn this art again,” he said, “But slowly and with great persistence, they will learn how to do it.” Davao Today / Posted byBulatlat.com

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3 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. THAnk you .. it will help my research about the story of dagmay

  2. Can you imagine using women's skirts as a blanket. Somebody should make some of these to sell in the states. I would buy one just to talk about it.

  3. very good.. i use this as school project eh..tnx for the help..

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