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Disappearing Dabakan Drums 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago
Disappearing Dabakan Drums?


 By Luke Hagberg

Description and Rationale


The dabakan is a native drum to the Philippines. It originated in the southern islands of the Philippines around Mindanao. The drum is used to keep the beat in the kulintang ensembles(set of five different instruments all that are gongs except the dabakan) in the Maguindanao and the Maranao societies. Few of these drums have been exported from these societies making their existence relatively unknown. The drum is made out of coconut tree trunks and leather from goat, deer and caraboa but reptile is the best sounding.


            How does the production of drums affect the ecology of the forests and lizards? Are coconut trees being cut down too frequently? Are there other leathers that would be better than reptile? Are certain kinds of lizards becoming rarer because they are being killed to make drums? Would the presence of more drums create too high of a demand on the trees or should the production of the drums be controlled? Could poor people make a profit producing these drums? Would these drums sell?


            Would the production and selling of these drums yield enough money? A great demand for native crafts exists for the tourist industry. Many tourists like to buy different kinds of native crafts and instruments. Research done by surveys shows that tourists want to learn about the culture of the country they are going to and be able to take part of that culture back home with them. Would tourists buy a dabakan? Would musicians be interested in purchasing these tribal drums to use for their own purposes?


            The purpose of this project is to research about the biology and ecology of the rain forests of the Philippines and see if the coconuts trees are being removed to quickly through online research. Then the construction of a dabakan will be done to see the difficulty of the project.


     It is hoped that this tribal drum will become known by many and that those who are poor will able to make money to be able to eat by the sales of the dabakan.  


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Common Names and Synonyms



Cocos Nucifera is also known as the coconut palm. In addition it is called the coconut because of its fruit. The most common name is a coconut tree. In Tagalog, the coconut tree is referred to as niyog or the “tree of life” because of the many uses it has from the roots all the way up the tree. Also, in Polynesia it is called niu and these names originated from the Malay word nyiur or nyior.






Kingdom: Plantae


Phylum: Magnoliophyta (angiosperms)


Class: Liliopsida (monocots/lily family)


Order: Arecales (flowering plants)


Family: Arecaceae (palms)


Genus: Cocos (monkey-faced)


Species: C. nucifera (bearing nuts)




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Morphology and Physical Description





The coconut palm grows anywhere from 20 to 30 meters in height and may live as long as 100 years. Its single trunk is smooth and gray. Its trunks are marked by ring scars which are left by the fallen leafbases. From four to six meters long the leaves of the coconut are pinnate consisting of linear-lanceolate, green leaflets.



The coconut is as big as a man’s head. With a smooth gray-brownish epicarp which is fibrous and four to eight centimeters thick. The fruit can weigh one to two kilograms. The woody endocarp is light which allows the coconut to float and be carried by water for long distances. In the center of the coconut is one seed which is located in a partly liquid, partly solid endosperm.



The tree produces an adventitious root system which consists of 2000 to 4000 roots. The roots can go down as far as six meters but usually only go down one and a half meters.




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Getting Food


Because it is a plant, cocos nucifera photosynthesizes to produce food.  The chloroplasts in the cells of the leaves absorb sunlight and use it to produce sugars which are used for food. Coconut trees are usually found at sea level to 150 meters above sea level. Near the equator though, the coconut tree can grow up from 0 – 600 meters above sea level. The amount of rainfall for the tree to survive is 1500 to 2500 millimeters. Coconut trees can grow in many different kinds of soils, but grow best in sandy, saline soils requiring sunlight. The tempature needs to be over 65 degrees Fahrenheit and direct sunlight is the best for the plant with humidity 70 to 80%+.





Coconut palm reproduces by the pollination of flowers. The trees are polygamomonoecious which means that the trees have both male and female flowers.  The coconut palms cross-pollinate with the help of insects or wind. Some kinds of trees are self-pollinating. Also, four kinds of coconut bats can pollinate coconut trees. These bats are the dawn bat, the small long-toed fruit bat, the Marians flying fox and the Seychelles flying fox. The male and female flowers are found on a sheath which the bats like to drink the nectar of the sheath. While on the sheath, the movement of pollen takes place fertilizing the flowers. Plants start to flower after 6 to 10 years and reach the peak of production from 15 to 20 years. The fruit usually take a year to be fully produced and a coconut tree produces anywhere from 50 to 200 coconuts during its life till the age of 80.



Environmental Factors



Cocos nucifera lives on the coasts or near the ocean making it able to be exposed to salt water. Fresh and salt water are both good for the tree but the latter is better. Also droughts can have severe effects on the coconut trees because they need lots of rainfall to survive from 7 to 42 dm of rainfall a year. The annual temperature should be from 21 to 30 degrees Celsius for the greatest growth.



Phytoplasma disease which leads to lethal yellowing is one disease the fruit can have. The fruit can also be damaged by eriophyid mites. Also the coconut hispine beetle feeds on young leaves and damages the seedlings and mature coconut palms. The rhinoceros beetle is also a best and eats the coconuts and damages the tree.


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Origin and Distribution


The actual origin of the coconut tree is in debate with some saying it is from South Asia and others saying it is from South America. Also fossil records show that New Zealand is a possible origin for the coconut tree. Coconuts however are native to Southeast Asia including Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Prehistoric forms of the coconut plant originated from tropical islands like Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia and we also in India, Sri Lanka and East Africa. Coconut trees on the Pacific coast and in Central America were either introduced or also originated there. Now dwarf coconut palms are being shipped around the world and being stored in green houses or inside homes.



Importance to People



The coconut is one of the ten most useful trees in the whole world. It can be used for food such as the millionaire’s salad. The heart of the coconut tree is used for the salad which is a vegetarian’s delight. It is also used in fashion shoes, caps and pressed helmets for soldiers. It produces good honey, a sweet juice and coconut molasses. It is used as vinegar and liquor. Coconut juice produced by a five month old fruit is so pure it was used to sterilize glucose solution and put directly into patients veins during World War II. Other uses of its juice are cooking oil, soap, shampoo, shaving cream, lubricants, synthetic rubbers and ice cream.  The trunk is used for building sheds and other small buildings.  




Survivability and Endangered Status


Cocos nucifera is available over the whole world and is not in endangered status. In the Philippines, 53.9% of the land is devoted to coconut plantations. It is being grown and harvested all over the Philippines for food and other uses and is even being exported to other countries.




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Potential Solutions


The fading of the Dabakan from the Maranao and Maguidanao tribes is not good. The drum could become a thing of the past if we are not careful. What is a way that the drum could still be made and not forgotten about? Also not many know about the drum making it even more likely to fall out of existence. More research needs to be done about the drum and be made known to the public. There are several different solutions that would not only make the drum become known, but could also make a livelihood for the poor Filipinos of Manila. Below are three possible solutions for this problem and along with each solution are disadvantages and advantages of each.



Possibility 1 Make a Brochure


Not many people know much about the Dabakan drum. Making a brochure to hand out would inform many different people here in the Philippines about their own native drum and native music.





  1. A brochure would be made to inform the people in Manila of one of the native drums from the southern Philippines. This would help Filipinos appreciate their own native instruments.



  1. Seeing pictures of the native drum might spark an interest to learn more about it and would hopefully spread to interest friends and family. This would make more and more people learn about the Dabakan.





  1. Just having pictures and words handed to the person might not spark their interest. The right kind of people need to be found.




  1. Also brochures are not always an effective way of informing people because they might not read the brochure. They might look at it and then toss it in the trash because they don’t really care about what it says.




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Possibility 2 Talk to Dabakan Drummer


To talk to a professional drummer of the Dabakan, I could learn more about the techniques of playing the drum and how important it is to society.




  1. I would learn exactly how the drum is being used today and be able to learn different techniques to playing it and how to handle it. I also would be able to understand the significance of the drum in the societies in Mindanao.



  1. I would learn how hard it is to make the drum and how people in the tribes in Mindanao make the drum. With this information I could decide if making a drum could be done by the poor in Manila.






  1. These drums are from the southern Philippines on the island of Mindanao. To actually go to the tribes where the Dabakan originated would be expensive and hard.   



  1. If there was a Dabakan drummer in Manila, it could be hard to find him/her and set up an appointment to meet and talk with them because of a possible busy schedule.



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Possibility 3


Making the Dabakan could be a potential source of income for poor squatter families in Manila. The drums could be sold to tourists or to the people in Manila to remind them of their heritage. I thought this possibility the best and decided to see how hard it would be to make a drum. I got a coconut stump from Mr. Whitehead and brought it home. First thing I had to do was measure out the dimensions of the drum and decide the thickness of the different parts. With my dad’s help, slits were cut into the wood with an electric saw. Then I had to strip the stump of its bark which was done by using a bolo and pounding it with a stick down. Then I used a chisel to take out the wood in between the different slits to make a sloping effect. Then I took a bolo and


smoothed out the slope by shaving the wood away. I also used the bolo to make a sloping effect for the bowl of the drum. Once all the carving on the outside was finished, I used an electric drill to bore holes into the bowl of the drum. In addition to the drill, I used a chisel to hollow out the rest of the drum. After all of the carving and the bowl was hollowed out, I sanded the drum to give it a smooth and nice finish. Then I varnished the drum and let it dry, before attaching the head over the cavity of the drum. I used screws to hold the head and vice-grips to pull on the leather to tension the head.









  1. Being able to produce the drum would help the poor have a livelihood. This would be helping the poor like it talks about in the Bible. We need to look after our neighbors and the squatters of Manila are our neighbors. Helping them to have a job would bring families out of a lifestyle of poverty and into a life of working and earning money.



  1. Also having more Dabakans for sale might bring about a change in how Filipinos think about their native music. This might encourage them to learn how to play their native instruments and these instruments would not be lost in time.



  1. With the Dabakan becoming more known, international tourists might become interested with the Dabakan and wish to purchase the drum to use or to display.






  1. The process of making the drum is not hard but is quite time consuming. I made mine in one afternoon but my drum does not have the decoration that some drums have. At most, two drums could be made a day by the carpenter if not only one.



  1. It could be debated how much money would need to be spent on tools. I mostly used tools that a normal person would have like a chisel and bolo but I also used an electric drill and sander which speed up the process tremendously. Money might be an issue for these poor people to buy the tools needed to make the drum.



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1. "Coconut." Wikipedia. 2 May 2008. 5 Apr. 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut>. 


2. "Cocos Nucifera Linnaeus." Plant a Palm. 2006. Palm & Cycad Societies of Florida, Inc. 5 Apr. 2008 <http://www.plantapalm.com/vpe/photos/Species/cocos_nucifera.htm>. 


3. Duke, James A. "Cocos Nucifera L." Purdue University. 8 July 1996. 5 Apr. 2008 <http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Cocos_nucifera.html>. 


4. Faucon, Philippe. "Coconut Tree." Desert Tropicals. 2005. 5 Apr. 2008 <http://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/Arecaceae/Cocos_nucifera.html>. 


5. Guglielmo, Anna, Pietro Pavone,  and Cristina Salmeri. "The Coconut Palm." Palms. Dipbot. 5 Apr. 2008 <http://www.dipbot.unict.it/Palms/Descr01.html>. 


6. Jager, Fekke De. "Dadabuan." Kipas. 2005. 25 Apr. 2008 <http://www.kipas.nl/Instruments/Dadabuan.htm>. 


7. Stallsmith, Glenn. "Tribal Drums in the Philipines." 25 Apr. 2008. 


8. Mercurio, Philip Dominguez. "ETHS 545: Traditional Music of the Southern Philippines." PnoyAndTheCity: A center for Kulintang - A home for Pasikings. 2. Ed. Master Danongan Sibay Kalanduyan. San Francisco: 2006. http://www.pnoyandthecity.blogspot.com




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