By: Estrella Z. Gallardo

Science and Art merged in the exhibit titled The Reconcilation of magik Salap (A TRIPTYCH), a first of a three-part documented dance journey tracing their steps from the cordillera mountains with the Kalinga community to the galleries of the George B. Vargas Musuem UP Diliman Manila, Philippines, a Knitsisters Productioon that ran from April 7-10, 2015

The DNA Analysis Laboratory, Natural Sciences Research Institute, University of the Philippines (UP-NSRI-DAL) and the Forensics and Ethnicity Program of the Philippine Genome Center has spearheaded population genetics works in the Philippines to study the genetic diversity of Filipinos and applications for forensic science.


UP Vargas Museum presented the First Part: World Premiere of the Knitsisters production titled The Reconciliation of Magik Salap (A Triptych). from April 7 to April 10 at the 3F Galleries.The Reconciliation of Magik Salap (A Triptych) showcased the first of three documented dance journeys of Sharon Estacio and Giovanna Rovedo that incorporated audio, video and live performance. Estacio and Rovedo aimed to use contemporary dance and holistic health to rediscover what it means to be a Filipino in different parts of the world.

Sharon Estacio

Their journey to the Cordillera Mountains with the Kalinga community in the northern Philippines marked the first step towards their research connecting America, the Philippines and Italy. Estacio and Rovedo conducted a cultural exchange and immersion where they interacted with the indigenous peoples of the Philippines and dance students of Filipino local universities.

The artists opened their creative laboratory and continued research to the public, placing themselves on display in the 3F galleries, in real time during viewing hours throughout the course of the week. Visitors were able to enter the residency space and interacted with the artists Science and art merge in this exhibit.

It’s All Relative is a realization that people are interconnected-socially, culturally, and historically. Genetics show we are the same as people but diverse as individuals.

This special exhibit featured portraits of the UP-NSRI-DAL scientists by photographer Alison Domzalski superimposed with their DNA sequences obtained via next generation sequencing.

Complementing these portraits were selected images of the Philippines’ indigenous peoples such as the Mangyan of Mindoro by photographer Jacob Maentz, the Ivatan of Batanes by anthropologist Dr. Francisco Datar, and the Kalinga of the Cordillera Mountains by photographer Jinggo Montenejo.


Guest artists were Sheila E. Dennis, forensic biologist, with Jinggo Montenejo, freelance photographer, ( )Francisco A. Datar, anthropologist, University of the Philippines Diliman Jacob Maentz, freelance photographer, ( Katutubong Filipino Project ( Alison Domzalski, freelance photographer, former forensic biologist

Shiela E. Denise

This production was made possible by the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman in Manila, Philippines (Phase I), the Filipino American Museum (FAM) in NYC, USA (Phase II) and generous supporters.

Asia society Philippines on It’s All Relative: Discovering the Filipino Identity through DNA Science” answered the questions Do you know who and what we as Filipinos are made of? Do you want to know where we came from? If we knew, what could we do about it?

The event featured scientists from the DNA Analysis Laboratory, Natural Sciences Research Institute, University of the Philippines, Diliman (UPD-NSRI-DAL), the evening of talks will provide insights on history, biology and population genetics of Filipinos.

The program tackled the latest key scientific findings, in order to discuss how these contribute to the preservation and overall unification of Philippine culture and history. It also explored the application of Genetic research in health, forensics and in business. The evening’s discussions also included will the implications of the conduct of scientific research on indigenous peoples towards the formulation of public policies that respect their culture and tradition.

Speakers of the event were Dr. Cora de Ungria: Asia 21 Young Leader; Head of DNA Analysis Laboratory, Natural Sciences Research Institute, University of the Philippines (UPD-NSRI-DAL) and Director of the Program on Forensics and Ethnicity of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC)

Sheila Estacio Dennis: Fulbright Scholar and Researcher in residence at UPD-NSRI-DAL; former Assistant Director, Department of Forensic Biology, New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner

Frederick Delfin: PhD Candidate in Human Evolutionary Genetics, at the International Max Planck Research School and University Research Associate at UPD-NSRI-DAL

In this unique program where Science and culture meet. Filipino-American dance artist Sharon Estacio, in collaboration with cultural anthropologist Giovanna Rovedo, showed excerpts of their documented dance journey on rediscovering what it means to be Filipino in different parts of the world.

Sharon Estacio is a Filipino American dance artist, teacher and AADP certified holistic health practitioner currently based in Florence, Italy. A native New Yorker, she trained at the Manhattan Ballet School, Inc. on scholarship and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center on fellowship. She was an Honors Scholar in Dance at FH LaGuardia HS of Music & Art and the Performing Arts and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she was honored with the JS Seidman Award. A performer since 1998, she has worked with an amalgam of artists and dance companies in the US and Italy, touring and teaching across America and Europe. As a dance artist in NYC, her previous works include commissions by Aaron Davis Hall, Mulberry Street Theater with the Jerome Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Women in Motion: Blueprint (Estrogenius Festival NYC). Her work has also been presented at Danspace Project/St. Mark’s Church, Joe’s Pub (DanceNOW[NYC]), Dixon Place, Jacob’s Pillow, La MaMa, WAX and others. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Dragon’s Egg (CT), Earthdance (MA) in the US and DiD Studio/ Fabbrica del Vapore (MI) and Teatro della Limonaia (FI) in Italy.

Sheila Estacio Dennis, forensic biologist, is currently a Fulbright Scholar and Researcher in residence at the DNA Analysis Laboratory, Natural Sciences Research Institute at the University of the Philippines, Diliman.   This photographic collaboration is based on her molecular approach to forensic science and ethnicity the past 5 months. She was the Assistant Director for the Department of Forensic Biology of the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. After the occurrences of 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and the American Airlines Flt. 587 crash in November 2011, Sheila was reassigned to the World Trade Center Special Projects Team where she performed DNA testing on challenging samples from the unidentified human remains from the World Trade Center Disaster as well as performed DNA testing on victim reference samples and familial exemplars. Sheila graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Anthropology and subsequently completed her Master’s Degree in Forensic Science at the University of New Haven in West Haven, CT. She resides with her husband, two children, and 2 fighting fish in northern New Jersey but is still a native New Yorker and Filipina at heart.