100_4281.jpgI took this candid shot last March during the heritage tour I organized for my Humanities students. That guy in orange is actually the konduktor (every Ilonggo driver’s assistant who likes to “dangle” at the jeep’s entrance) . I like the play of colors in the pix–a bright yellow with navy blue plus the highly saturated orange or tangerine on the guy’s shirt.

There is such a thing as local color. A particular culture’s identity can be recognized by its choice of colors. Look at the Mexicans, when we say Mexican colors, bright and deep colors like yellow, red, orange,green, violet and blue come to mind. That’s because, in Mexican folk arts such as pottery, embroidery and paper mache, these colors have always been the ones employed by its artisans. These have stuck through the ages and so, inspite of modernity, when all sorts of influences have penetrated Mexican culture, they have already established and recognized this set of traditional colors that the world has come to accept as Mexican.

In our case, has the world or even we ourselves recognized a particular chromatic scheme to be Philippine? Even I associate the term Philippine colors with red white and blue and yellow–the colors of the Philippine flag. Now, that’s something to thing about. Why have we not established our own color scheme?

Hmm, let me think. Actually, a number of ethnic groups in our country have defined their own color schemes. (So, its not entirely true that we have no color schemes. Perhaps, what we don’t have is a national color scheme.) The Panay Bukidnon, for instance, works around particular hues in their detailed hand embroideries. Its the ethnic majorities (yes, we Ilonggos are an ethnic group!) like ourselves who apparently have not defined a particular color scheme that’s truly traditional Ilonggo. Hmm, but wait again. Perhaps, its just there, waiting to be identified. I’m thinking of the patadyong (that tubular woven cotton garment in a plaid design. Having been so popular all over Western Visayas before, the color schemes used there can be associated with Iloilo. Check out the Center for West Visayan Studies in the UPV city campus. They have a good collection of patadyong fabrics in a variety of design patterns. From it, you’ll also be able to deduce our traditional color preferences.

Now, let me go back to that jeepney pix above. I’ve been thinking…by observing the color schemes used in today’s Iloilo jeepneys, we can actually draw out the color psychology of Ilonggos. (no kidding, you can do a whole thesis on this!) Nah! you don’t have to be super-intellectual to see that we Ilonggos have this penchant for bright colors. We are a happy people.