On July 22, Laji singers from all three islands of Batanes met in Vasay with community leaders, school teachers, and Ivatan residents to celebrate the release of the audio CD, Laji: Indigenous Oral Poetry of Batanes. The CD brings together original field recordings in order to document and preserve this valuable tradition of Ivatan poetry.
After a week of strong winds and rain, Friday morning dawned with calm breezes and clear skies, allowing the singers from Sabtang to make the ocean crossing. They were joined by others from Itbayat and towns in the south, such as Uyugan, Ivana and Mahatao. As we say here, madinak u taw!
Leaders from the local schools called the gathering of the Laji an important part of bringing indigenous knowledge into the curriculum for the youth of Batanes. School District Superintendent Wivina Gonzales even treated the crowd to her own rendition of “Nunuk du Tukon,” a popular Laji that is known throughout the islands.