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Home NEWS Filipiniana Filipinas Heritage Library’s Ulahingan Project wins third prize grant to digitize major cultural treasure

Filipinas Heritage Library’s Ulahingan Project wins third prize grant to digitize major cultural treasure

The Ulahingan Digitization project of the Filipinas Heritage Library (FHL) won the third prize grant money of $5,000 from EMC Corporation's Heritage Trust contest.
It was a Facebook-based voting contest and finalists are cultural initiatives that have a digital preservation component.
 
The EMC Corporation is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver information technology as a service (ITaaS). This is the first time an entry from the Philippines has become a finalist in their contest whilst winning a place in the top three.
 
Ulahingan comes from the word “ulahing,” meaning to sing and chant. A major epic of the Manobo indigenous group in Mindanao, Philippines, it contains 4,000-6,000 lines per episode and 79 episodes on average.  This tradition is orally passed from one generation to the next, often taking several days of continuous chanting while in trance. It is said that the “Ulahingan” is so huge -- a never-ending story for as long as there are singers.
 
Filipinas Heritage Library (FHL) recognizes the need to digitally preserve these traditions as part of its mission to preserve and promote accessibility to learning resources on Philippine culture and heritage for the present and future generations. The project’s main activity would be the conversion of an estimated 1,200 audio reels, tapes, and other materials into playable digital sound files.
 
FHL learned about the recordings through Mr. Roderick Hall, a World War II survivor and FHL benefactor, who traveled to Dumaguete and found out about the collection. He recognized the value of the recordings and the need to preserve and digitize them. Thus, he initiated and ardently supported the digitization project.
 
The audio reels are part of the collection of Silliman University. It was initially recorded and compiled by the late Dr. Elena Maquiso, a professor at Silliman. The epic has been orally recorded in over 1,200 items of reels and cassette tapes. But there is a high risk of deterioration of the recordings in its current state. The materials, though physically sound, are in danger of losing its contents as these are stored in old media storage formats that are estimated to last only 2-3 years more at the maximum. A loss of content which will eventually lead to a loss of heritage. In this modern age, oral traditions and epics such as these are hardly known and appreciated anymore. Access to the materials for research and general use may be limited, and worse, discontinued, especially for future generations.
 
These recordings contain generations of oral traditions that may not be recreated again. These contain histories of a communion of people from long ago that has been passed on to their descendants and succeeding generations. As today's world is characterized by globalization and Filipino diaspora that pose a challenge to a nation's character, this project will serve as an instrument to protect and uphold the Filipino identity.