“SONG OF WOMEN”?: A REFLECTION ON SINGING AND GENDER COMPLEMENTARITY IN MODERNIZING INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN NORTHERN PHILIPPINE HIGHLANDS

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Michiyo Yoneno -Reyes

Abstract

Salidummay, a cohort of modern folk songs observed in different places of northern
Philippines, has often been performed by a group of married women since around
the 1960s. It has been described in a certain context as “song of women” in both
emic narrative and etic accounts. However, in the case of a remote village in western
Kalinga of the same region, salidummay is performed by both sexes and both in
solo and group quite arbitrarily. Closer observation reveals the ostensible paradox
that “song of women” narrative as well as praxis pertaining to it is more prominent
in communities where gender division of labor is less visible, while it is almost
absent in a community where gender division of labor is more visible. Some
sociologists view that Fordist notion of gender division of labour where wives are
associated with private sphere is a very product of modernity. In this line, Marxisminclined
discourses have maintained that wives/women are oppressed by both
conventional and modern patriarchies. On the contrary, anthropological studies on
indigenous communities in today’s Southeast Asian areas have emphasized that
gender division of labour in the hunter-gatherer and slash-and-burn agriculture
communities where women are associated with domestic spheres is egalitarian and
complementary. This paper seeks to bridge the gap between the two discourses in
understanding today’s modernizing indigenous communities in Southeast Asia.
Reflecting on the meaning of absence of “song of women” in a certain community,
this essay argues that the emergence of “song of women” signifies the ongoing
modernization process that has relatively weakened the power of women at domestic
domain, and that reification of monophonic singing of salidummay by women at
communal/ public domain is their collective strategy in order for them to maintain
the equilibrium.
Keywords: Song of women, Salidummay, Modernization & Power

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How to Cite
-REYES, Michiyo Yoneno. “SONG OF WOMEN”?: A REFLECTION ON SINGING AND GENDER COMPLEMENTARITY IN MODERNIZING INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN NORTHERN PHILIPPINE HIGHLANDS. JATI - JOURNAL OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN STUDIES, [S.l.], v. 15, p. 61-81, dec. 2010. ISSN 2600-8653. Available at: <https://jati.um.edu.my/article/view/6099>. Date accessed: 27 may 2019.
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