Basal Banar

Basal is the most sacred ritual of the aboriginal tribe Palawan. Banar is the tribe’s word for truth. The space between two words is their memory, their heritage of images, flavors and aromas. The ancestors had rituals that could drive off rain, their descendants return with a video camera to slow down the erosion of the traditional way of life. Besides the tangible memories, the camera is a chance to understand the disappearing world, to experience the archetype in a continuous composition, and to see beyond the inevitable bonding of the civilization with the land.

In 1974, under the martial law, the tribe people were forced out of the southern islands around which pearl farms were then built and guarded by soldiers. Only recently the government confirmed the tribe’s hereditary title to the islands and also supported a research. Auraeus Solito, an experimental filmmaker, is a descendant of the aboriginal people. He returned to the island to capture the ecstatic rituals as well ordinary days of the tribe. His film tells the legends of the earth and seas, myths connected with the islands, sand tables and coral trees. It is a detailed record of rituals, eulogies and stories as well as a catalogue of water containers, engraved wood pieces and bamboo chimes. But is not a mere record of the past: we see the advancing disintegration of the islanders’ life style, which has been invaded by property speculators and supranational corporations.

This extraordinary ethnographic documentary also works with a digital imprint of the island, with a global positioning system that helps a government association to create a detailed map of the land. An original combination of modern technologies with simple stories and dance gives rise to a strange tension, a kind of double map of flowing myths, internal and external record of a society.

Related Projects