Potri Ranka Manis*, is the Founder, Tradition-Bearer and Artistic Director of Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage, resident artists of world-renowned LaMama Experimental Theatre Club. She grew up in the Royal House of Borocot of Lanao Del Sur, the daughter of the late Sultan A Gaus of Borocot, Maguing, Lanao del Sur (Southern Philippines) 15 Pagawidan of Pat Pangempong ko Ranao (15 Royal House of the four Sultanats of Ranao) a true modern-day princess and tradition-bearer. In 2006, she was enthroned as a Bai Labi a Gaus, (Bai a Labi, Maranao word for Queen).
Potri Ranka Manis founded Kinding Sindaw in 1992 as a way to assert, preserve, reclaim and promote the indigenous music and dances of her childhood, which now faces extinction. As a child in Lanao, she was trained in the traditional dance, music and martial art forms of her people and of other Philippine indigenous groups. She has performed throughout the Philippines, the Middle East, Hong Kong and the United States.
Using the principles of the Theatre of the Oppressed theorized and popularized by Augusto Boal, Potri Ranka Manis seeks to portray the unique relationship of indigenous peoples with their environment and the significance and relevance of indigenous beliefs and traditions in the modern society, through theatre, music and movement. She seeks to examine the true story of the Moro people of Mindanao and the ancient Sultanates, which is largely overlooked in the written Philippine history and has only been transmitted through generations through oral tradition (chants, legends, epics and myths). The themes pervading her dance-theatre works are rooted in the ancestral heritage, struggle for self-determination and social justice, by applying theatrical forms to promote collective organizing and transformative social change.
Potri Ranka Manis has conceived, choreographed and directed theatre productions such as:
- Rajah Mangandiri, 2000 (Maranao Ramayana variant)- LaMaMa, ETC.
- Lemlunay, 2003- LaMaMa, ETC (Based on the Tiboli epic Tudbulol play); written by Potri Ranka Manis ©1983 and produced by Kulturang Atin in Davao City and by PETA in the 1983 Makiisa Festival
- Parang Sabil, 2004- LaMaMa, ETC. (Based on the Taosug people’s kissa on the massacre in Mt. Bud Dajo in 1906)
- Sultan Kudarat, 2005 – LaMaMa, ETC (Based on the life of the paramount sultan of Mindanao who united the different tribes)
- Bembaran Intertwined with Perang sa Bayang, 2007 LaMaMa,ETC (Play taken from the second chapter of the Maranao epic Derangen interwoven with accounts of real life events based on the massacre of the Maranao people in the town of Bayang)
- Pandibulan, 2009 –LaMaMa, ETC. (Based on the rituals of the Yakan people)
- Disappeared, 2000 – Dance Theater Workshop concept, choreography, and direction. An interwoven piece featuring the political torture, disappearance and political summary killing of Indonesian Political Lawyer and Activist, Jafar Siddiq Hamsa from Aceh in August 2000. In this dance theater piece, Potri Ranka Manis re-membered her disappearance and torture in the safehouses of the Philippine Military while a political prisoner during the infamous Martial Law of the Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Potri was a political prisoner from 1973 until 1987 when she was released as a result of the Peoples Power Revolution.
Kabanata sa Buhay ng Isang Pambayad Utang, award-winning a collection of poems on the experiences of migrant workers, which won a CCP1990 Gawad Award;
Hilal na Buwan at Iba pang Tula, Carlos Bulosan Migrante Award (Philippines 1990)
Sandstorm in Jeddah, published by Roadmap Series in 1988;
Oraturyo, a poetry drama on the Bells of Balanginga;
The Worry Beads, solo piece written and performed in response to religious discrimination after 911;
Ang Nars (The Nurse), another solo piece on life of a nurse.
Potri Ranka Manis is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2005 Women Consul Award; 2005 Philippine Historical Association; 2005 Fansclub Award; Queensborrough President Award; 2010 Banaag Presidential Award awarded to (Kinding Sindaw) Filipino associations or individuals for their exceptional or significant contribution to reconstruction, progress and development in the Philippines; 2012 Compass Awardee, for women in Islam who dedicate their lives to helping others; the 2012 Migrante Heritage Award for Performing Arts; and the 2013 Pan American Concerned Citizens Action League Women Achievers Award for Culture and Heritage.
She has co-founded organizations like Kalusugan Coalition where she also serves as a current Board of Director; Philippine Forum; Filipino American Family Association (Queens, NY), PANATA Artist collective.
She is a member of the Community Advisory Board of Center for Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) of New York University (NYU), the Community Advisory Board of Department of Population Health in NYU, and serves as a Board of Director of the New York Community Health Worker Network.
She co-authored several publications and poster presentations : (titles upon request)
She is also a co-investigator on the following studies: MARHABA, (research on beliefs and culture on Muslim Women on cervical and breast cancer, and HAKBANG (research on acculturation and stress related hypertension on Filipino Nurses and Domestic Workers).
Other works as actor: Law and Order, Special Victims Unit – SVU (Harm episode); Principal in a feature independent film Disoriented by Francisco Aliwalas; Supporting cast and producer of Newyorkustan Youtube series on American Muslim.
*(PotriRankaManis Queano Nur, M.A., R.N., B.C.)