Director Nicanor Evangelista Jr.’s poetic and performance-based documentary feature traces the journey and coming together of five LA-based Filipino artists and healers, a subset of the diaspora, on their spiritual quest in search of identities and indigenous roots during a trip back to the Philippines.
As young Filipinos are the living in various diasporas of today’s world, they are all looking to build a bridge to their ancestral roots. Mamerto Tindongan, an 8th generation Shaman Mumbaki, has an interest in the rituals and practices of the Ifugao tribe in the Philippines. He invites a group of his peers to come along on his journey to the high mountain region and experience the culture with him.
Through Evangelista’s lens, we follow their journey from Los Angeles across oceans into Manila and the provinces then finally into a village in Ifugao. Ifugao is mostly well known for the endless rows of rice terraces occasionally called the “8th natural wonder of the world.” It is the home of one of the oldest indigenous tribes that still exist today. It remains an area and tribe in the Archipelago least influenced by the Spaniards during their occupancy of the Philippines. The Ifugao culture is still very much steeped in ancient traditions and ritual practices. The group connect with the people and learn their ancient practices.
They cap off this journey of a lifetime with a vision quest through the mountains. Getting in touch with the land and primordial nature, they take a deep dive into the essence of their homeland and learn life lessons that indelibly influence their artistic practices. Delving into the mind eye of each of these artists, their stories are told in their voices and through their own different artistic perspectives. —Melanie Ramos
Along with Mamerto Lagitan, we were fortunate enough to spend time and learn from Mumbaki Pugong Sr., an elder who had been initiated as a mumbaki since the age of 15. He had helped in the preparation for our arrival and added a kind and humble energy to all our activities. We were all excited to return to Ifugao to deepen our understanding of the tribe and also spend time with Mumbaki Pugong. It is with gratitude to know that we were able to Journey with him as it would be the last time we would see him in physical form. He recently passed into the spirit realm in March. We dedicate this film to his life.