Dutch Anthropologist to receive Alay Katutubo Award

Antoon Postma, leading Dutch anthropologist, linguist and missionary will be conferred the Alay Katutubo Award for his invaluable contribution to the preservation, protection and promotion of the Mangyan culture and Mindoro heritage.

Bapa (meaning uncle in the Hanunuo Mangyan language), as Mangyans and Mindorenos fondly call him, was a Divine Word missionary priest when he first went to Mindoro in 1958. A few years later, after meeting the Mangyan peoples, he immediately recognized and was fascinated by the richness and beauty of their culture. He then started learning and documenting their way of life and focused greatly on their languages; the Hanunuo and Buhid Surat Mangyan, two of the only three ancient living scripts in the country; the Ambahan, Mangyan chanted poetry; and the many facets of Mangyan heritage.

Since then, he has been living in Mindoro for half a century, writing and publishing books and articles on the various facets of Mangyan culture. He literally married into the Mangyan peoples in 1989 when he left priesthood and married Yam-ay Insik of the Hanunuo group. He lives in Panaytayan, Mansalay with his wife, four children and three adopted kids.

Postma is also known for having deciphered Laguna Copperplate dated 900 A.D., the oldest written document found in the Philippines, and editing an old Spanish-Tagalog dictionary. Based on ancient SoutheastAsian scripts, he added the ‘pamudpud,’ a symbol that removes the last vowel in a syllable, to the Surat Mangyan, thereby making the surat easier to understand for the younger generations of Mangyans and‘damuong’ (non-Mangyans).

He has been living and working with the Mangyans for half a century and is now being recognized for his significant contributions to the preservation of Filipino cultural heritage, specifically of Mangyan culture, with the Alay Katutubo Award. Alay Katutubo is a joint program of the Southfields Educational Foundation Phils., Inc. (SEFPI) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts National Committee on Museums (NCCA-NCOM) to preserve, protect and promote the culture and heritage of Mindoro.

The awarding will be held during the formal launching program of the Mindoro Heritage Museum, a joint project of SEFPI and NCCA-NCOM under the Alay Katutubo program. It will be held on November 14, 2011 at the Dolce Vita di Jo Resort, Dulangan II, Oriental Mindoro.

Ms. Josefina D. Villamor, SEFPI President and Ms. Myrna Jimenez, Vice Chairperson of NCCA-NCOM will confer the award in cooperation with Governor Alfonso Umali of the Province of Mindoro and Director Jeremy Robert M. Barns of the National Museum.