This, the fourth of the Kagayanen New Testament + Genesis Scripture Celebrations, is the first urban event of it’s kind in the history of Wycliffe’s primary strategic partnter’s Philippines Branch. While SIL has been working in the Philippines for over 50 years, serving dozens upon dozens of minority language communities in language development, those communities have been rurual, remote even. While the primary islands which are home to the Kagayanen speaking Filippinos are somewhat remote (1 hour by plane from Puerto Princesa City — which used to be 25 hours by boat), many Kagayanen now live on the island of Palawan, including in the city of PPC. The first Celebration was on the small island home of this language community — the last was in the city in an air conditioned coluseium. (One of the reasons Wycliffe was able to invite so many guests to join us for this event was precisely because it was held in the city were there is infrastructure to host so many foreigners.)
Those who came from the States all seemed to share common favorite parts of the event, with the highest markes going to the Kagayanen music and dance (espcially an dance that seemed to spontaneously involved many members of the audience), Jo-Ann Richards’ song (she is an ethnomusichologist serving in the Americas), and time spent with some of the Kagayanen people before and after the formal event.
I will readily admit that I am not very used to the formalities of events governed by protocol — which this one was — and found SOME of that tiresom while other of it was fascinating. I am amazed by how difficult it can be to be comfortable in a culture that is not my own. (More about that in another post.)
We traveled to and fro in busses and tricycles. We started the day in casual dress and, at each event, stepped up our attire until we were rather lovely for our evening banquet. It was a LONG and EXHAUSTING and WONDERFUL day. What a privildge to be able to honor the Kagayanen and the Wycliffe translators who have served in this work along side national translators and assistants for many years.