ArtsEquator’s Southeast Asia Radar features articles and posts about arts and culture in Southeast Asia, drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region. In the weekly Southeast Asia Radar, we publish a round-up of content that have been scoured and sifted from a range of regional news websites, blogs and media platforms.
Here is this week’s Southeast Asia Radar:
Sarawak’s Tuyang Initiative brings Dayak culture to the world
The Star, Malaysia
Who is Apai Saloi? Have you heard about a bird named “Kangkaput”? Do you know why instead of a handshake or a hug goodbye, you get black stains (soot) on your face after a ceremonial gathering in a Kenyah or Kayan longhouse?
Throughout this movement control order (MCO) period, the Tuesday Tales, a new online storyteller project by Sarawak-based The Tuyang Initiative, has been offering a series of wonderful folk tales, short stories and bedtime lullabies from various indigenous communities in Sarawak, especially the Kenyah, Iban and Penan tribes.
As the MCO weeks passed by, this compilation of Sarawakian folk tales, traditions and storyteller reflections, as shared by The Tuyang Initiative members and friends, have steadily grown.
“We know that people are fatigued by pandemic news or articles telling us how to be super and productive during a pandemic. So, we thought to ourselves – why don’t we take the time to share some relatively short stories from our communities, some that we had heard or lived through ourselves, ” says Juvita Tatan Wan, 35, in an interview.
What are you reading at home?
Any time is a good time to read but more so in times of isolation, books make the perfect company. This is also a great time to support your local, independent bookstores if you’re thinking of getting a copy of any of the books for yourself.
AKAR asked our friends for their favourite books set in Southeast Asia and/or written by a Southeast Asian author. Read on for the list. We’ve got you covered from novels to poetry!
Life under lockdown: Theater actress Gab Pangilinan
The second Gab Pangilinan first appears in Ang Huling El Bimbo, you just know she’ll make – and break – your heart.
Last weekend, the jukebox musical featuring the songs of Eraserheads was streamed in ABS-CBN Entertainment’s social pages. In just 48 hours, the filmed performance of Ang Huling El Bimbo – aired as a fundraising campaign for families affected by the pandemic – amassed numbers local theater has never seen before: 7 million views, multiple trending topics on Twitter with each getting over 30,000 tweets, and the #1 spot under YouTube’s Trending videos. For days, the production was the talk of the town, from heated debates online to fan pages hailing it as “an important piece of culture.”
At the center of the production is Gab Pangilinan, who played the musical’s lead Joy. One of theater’s rising leading ladies, new audiences praised her performance in Ang Huling El Bimbo, a role she portrayed in 2019 after her star turns in Mula Sa Buwan and Side Show months prior.
Morn Chear: Artwork and the courage to go on in life
Khmer Times, Cambodia
If you are looking at the cool art pieces of Morn Chear, you would see a talent, perseverance and a great storyline of his artworks, but what you couldn’t see behind his art pieces was an disabled artist who use his limbs and mouth to create such a work of art that no one would imagine was paint by an double hands amputee, artist Morn Chear. Som Kanika has an exclusive interview with the linocut block print artist.
GT2: In the past, you had no interest in art, but currently you are a print block artist many people know about. Can you narrate your journey and the life of being an artist?
Morn Chear: I was born in 1991, in a healthy condition and functional body, nothing in my health was wrong until I lost both of my hands by electrocution at a construction site.
It was an accident and it happened when I was 20. Normally, it is the phase of life that most people begin to enjoy their lives but for me, it was the beginning of misery and despair.
Gov’t Sets Up Programs to Keep Arts and Creative Industries Alive During Pandemic
Jakarta Globe, Indonesia
Jakarta. The Education and Culture Ministry has been setting up new programs to help art and creative workers who have lost their income during the coronavirus pandemic to get back on their feet.
According to data from the Indonesian Art Coalition (KSI), a total of 234 art events had been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic by April.
They included 113 music concerts, tours and festivals; 46 performance art events including plays, pantomime shows, wayang and storytelling; 33 art exhibitions; 30 film events including productions, premieres and festivals; 10 dance performances and two literary events.
“The government has an important role in accommodating art workers since no one wants to invest in art events during the pandemic, especially since there might be more extensions on the large-scale social restriction,” the ministry’s director-general of cultural affairs, Hilmar Farid, said on Tuesday.
The ministry now plans to hold a major event at the end of the year that will involve performers in virtual art, performance art and music.
Where are the female voices? Vietnam author asks of war stories
Women bore much of the burden of the Vietnam War but their voices have long been absent from the trove of literature on the topic, says acclaimed author Nguyen Phan Que Mai.
Speaking to AFP ahead of the 45th anniversary of the fall of Saigon Thursday, Que Mai says her new novel The Mountains Sing — written in English — aims to shine a light on the stories of women who not only endured and survived conflict, but had to rebuild shattered lives time and again.
“I’ve read a lot of Vietnam war fiction in English and most of it is written in the voices of men,” adds the poet and writer.
“I grew up with incredible women around me,” she says, adding that while many sons and fathers lost their lives in combat, it was women who had to deal with the heartache and the consequences.
About the author(s)
Nabilah Said is an award-winning playwright, editor and cultural commentator. She is also an artist who works with text across various artforms and formats. Her plays have been staged in Singapore and London, including ANGKAT, which won Best Original Script at the 2020 Life Theatre Awards. Nabilah is the former editor of ArtsEquator.