“I have been collecting objects from this region since I was young as a means to find and connect with my identity as a Filipino American,” he says.
Tumpag exhibited his growing collection of masks, figures, containers, fabrics, books and more in a one-day exhibit Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Asian American Center. The exhibit was titled, “Mending Our Unraveled Tapestry: A Celebration of Commonalities in Material Culture Amongst Insular Southeast Asia, Madagascar and Oceania.”
The objects were organized into categories: traditional sailing vessels, eating vessels, personal adornment items, ancestral figures, musical instruments and a group of objects related to “foreign influence” on the indigenous cultures of the region.
Tumpag came to NIU in August after earning a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. Now as a graduate student, his early childhood interest has become a full-fledged passion and professional pathway.
“Eventually I would like to apply everything I have learned independently and within academia toward social service principally amongst the indigenous and marginalized groups residing within the insular Southeast Asian countries of the Philippines and Indonesia,” Tumpag wrote in his introduction to the exhibit.
Tumpag’s collection is intended to show the many cultural connections between the countries in the Asia Pacific region, also known as Austronesia.
“My passion is centered on preservation of the endemic Austronesian heritage that exists between the two countries and amongst other areas of the diaspora as well,” Tumpag says. “By nurturing and reframing our identities through a lens that nurtures our common origins, I feel that the peoples of this region could better reconcile their religious, ethnic and political differences as these are contemporary issues facing Southeast Asia.”