Jun 14, 2024

The malong becomes central in a flurry of imagery as the indigenous fabric is employed in contemporary dance. Photo by Jojo Mamangun.

A Filipino native garment serves as the fabric of a dance production by Vancouver’s Alvin Erasga Tolentino for this year’s celebration of Asian Heritage Month.

 Through Tolentino’s artistry, the malong, traditional tubular clothing commonly used in the southern region of the Philippines, transforms into an abstract cultural object.

Tolentino, artistic director and founder of the Vancouver-based dance company Co.ERASGA, partners with Migrante B.C. in staging Tracing Malong/Guhit ng Ating Malong on May 6.

“The malong which I have been drawn to with my ongoing interest in Asian ancestry through culture and arts is ancient Asian traditional arts; its legacy is alive in culture and the people,” Tolentino said in a media release.

The Philippine-born Tolentino founded Co. ERASGA in 2000 with a mission to create and present contemporary works that feature national and international influences.

“This dance and production represent to me continuity and progress where tradition is active, dynamic and not static,” Tolentino said in the new release.

The malong is a cotton garment with various designs, similar to the sarong in other Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia.

The malong can be worn by men and women. It’s also a versatile garment, which can be used as a blanket, hammock, headdress, baby carrier, and prayer mat.

Canada marks Asian Heritage Month in May. The celebration offers opportunities to learn about Asian Canadians and their numerous contributions to Canadian society.

Tracing Malong/Guhit ng Malong will feature seven dancers from the Philippines and Vancouver.

In another event, Tolentino’s Co.ERASGA company will also curate music and dance to be presented at Night Shift: Magnetic Threads at the UBC Museum of Anthropology on May 3, starting at 6 p.m. The show explores human relationship with woven materials, which include indigenous articles of clothing like the malong.

Tracing Malong/Guhit ng Malong will be presented at the Glad Tidings Church (3456 Fraser Street, Vancouver) on May 6, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.

For more information: www.migrantebc.com. For other activities during the Asian Heritage Month: https://explorasian.org/.

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