Bamboo musical instruments take spotlight in DOST-FPRDI’s R&D program


Besides being the conductor and musical director of Musikawayan, Ret. Col. Gilbert Ramos (left) also trains members of the Biñan Kawayan Music Ensemble

More than a century ago, a bamboo band in Malabon played an important role in the 1896 revolution. At a time when the use of the bolo was banned, Malabon Musikong Bumbong helped the Katipunan by hauling and sneaking away their weapons. It also played the revolutionary songs “Alerta Katipunan” and “Veteranos de la Revolucion.”

Three generations after, Ret. Col. Gilbert Ramos—a great grandson of Felix Ramos, one of the founders of Malabon Musikong Bumbong—continued the legacy not only by playing but by crafting bamboo musical instruments (BMI), as well.


Members of the band play the tipangklung

The band is now known as Musikawayan and continues to make music beyond Malabon.

This year, the Department of Science and Technology-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) started the Bamboo Musical Instruments Innovation R&D Program to improve the quality of locally made BMI.

“We make various types of instruments, such as tipangklung, angklung, marimba, bumbong, bamban and gabbang, mostly for our clients from schools and music stores,” shared Ramos.

He admited that though there is a steady demand for their products, one of the challenges is maintaining the quality of the raw materials, especially since bamboo poles are usually prone to bukbok (powder-post beetle) attack.

According to Program Leader Aralyn L. Quintos, “The DOST-FPRDI program aims to provide science-backed solutions to BMI problems on sound and structural qualities, playability, tuning and durability.”

The program seeks to develop technologies that will prolong the life of bamboo without negatively affecting the musical instrumentsÂ’ sound quality; standardize the production of selected BMI; develop prototype design; analyze raw material sources and existing markets; and build a BMI processing facility.

“As an off-shoot, we hope to raise public awareness and appreciation for the cultural importance of these musical instruments,” Quintos added.

Program partners include the University of the Philippines-Center for Ethnomusicology and Philippine Normal University, while funding is provided by the DOST Grants-in-Aid.

With Filipino ingenuity and ample R&D support, craftsmen and musicians like Ramos can look forward to making more beautiful music with bamboo.

Apple Jean C. Martin-de Leon/S&T Media Service


Other News from Region 4a

DOST-PCAARRD and CIP to host regional congress on root and tuber crops
Posted: Friday, October 11, 2019
Root and tuber crops (RTCs) are notably versatile crops because of their various purposes not just in agriculture and health but also in food security and climate change resilience. In the post-Haiyan...   read full story

Project to determine profile of shrimp exposed to fluctuating temperatures kicks off
Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019
(From Left to right) Ms. Mary Antonette Atilano, Research Assistant; Ms. Arlene N. Avanceña, Budget Officer; Ms. Esterlina I. Ganvez, Supply Officer; Ms. Angel Queenee D. Dequito, Project Leader; D...   read full story

Organic fungicide developed from Tasmannia piperita (Hook.f.) Miers
Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019
Tasmannia piperita (Hook.f.) Miers plant together with the bottle of organic fungicide Tasmannia piperita (Hook.f.) Miers plant together with the bottle of organic fungicide The agriculture indu...   read full story

Weapons from local materials? DOST-FPRDI checks ‘sawale’
Posted: Monday, September 30, 2019
Did you know that the lowly sawale (woven bamboo mat) is a possible material for making body armors to save our soldiersÂ’ lives? The Department of Science and TechnologyÂ’s Forest Products Research an...   read full story