Birth place and Informal Education
Mamerto Tindongan was born in Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines on April 8, 1958. He began carving at the age of eight. A member of the Ifugao tribe, he was mentored by master carvers in their tradition. This upland cultural minority group resides in the Cordillera mountain range of Luzon Island.
Tindongan completed an MA in International Affairs (Development Studies) and an MA in Geography from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He received his BA in Aeronautical Engineering from PATS College of Aeronautics in Pasay City, Philippines.
Family Home and Studio
Tindongan is married to Cynthia White, a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in a nearby Ifugao village. They started a family, now numbering six: Mae, Allan, Joannah, Torin, Amihan, and Malaya, and came to the United States in 1991. Tindongan built their house from the trees of their woods and invites visitors to his studio and home.
Tindongan like to perpetuate his childhood wood carving memories where the tree is cut down and carved on the spot. Except when it is raining or in winter, Tinodngan prefers to work bare-footed out of doors.
Mamerto Tindongan's roots in his indigenous culture inform everything about Tindongan's work. He infuses his wood art with energy through his tribal tradition's deep connection to the natural environment and the guidance of their ancestors' spirits. Tindongan's graduate degrees lend themselves to the integration of cultures and approaches inherent in his work. His collaboration with renowned sculptor, David Hostetler since 1994 has enhanced and inspired Tindongan's pursuit of artistic expression. Tindongan's Tai Chi teachers and artwork patrons, Warren and Victoria Taylor of Snowville Creamery, are very influential as well.
Tindongan's custom work includes abstract and stylized forms in functional and/or decorative pieces. Often, the designs are one of a kind as the artist works in communion with the wood. He allows the shape, size, grain, and other characteristics of the wood to guide him in uncovering the final form. Some designs can then be reproduced in varying sizes and kinds of wood. Any design can be used as proto-type for bronze castings.
Other Passions and Sport
Following college in Manila, Tindongan became much involved in the development of his village community. He is an advocate for the wise utilization of natural resources and the protection of endangered species. He founded WILD WINGS, a business protecting and cultivating rare butterflies in their mountain, rainforest habitat. He discovered two new butterfly species that are named after him, and maintains a regional insect collection.
One of Tindongan's important passions is practicing and teaching Tai Chi and Gigong for health, martial arts, and spirituality. He is also active in the ancient art of throwing spears with an Atlatl, which is now becoming a popular sport activity. Aside from making his own equipment, he has his own atlatl design available for sale.
It was after he immigrated to the United States and went to graduate school that Tindongan realized the true value of his tribal tradition. While in school, Tindongan was diagnosed with menieres disease (an infection of the inner ear), which has no known cure in modern medicine. This prompted Tindongan to invigorate his search for truth and meaning of his existence.
An important aspect of his renewed search is receiving spiritual attunements and guidance from some of the reputed teachers within the vicinity of his new home in Albany, Ohio. Among Tindongan's spiritual teachers are: Crow Swimsaway (Minister of Church-of-Earth-Healing); the late Kenia Greywolfe (Healer/Earth Keeper); and the late Reverend Randy Hastings (Minister of the Feathered Serpent and keeper of the Serpent Mound in Chillicothe, Ohio). Interestingly, Crow Swimsaway's master's thesis in the 1980s was about the Ifugao wood carvings and tattoos. Although Swimsaway never traveled to Ifugao, it was not a coincidence that he met Tindongan—a full-blooded Ifugao, in Athens, Ohio. Like some of Tindongan's designs, the full meaning of their conceptions will manifest later. Everything is according to plan…
Tindongan believes in reincarnation, and that his passions in wood carving, Tai Chi and Qigong, throwing spears with an Atlatl, and farming are all part of the divine plan for him. His interest in metaphysics and energy healing lead him to the Kolaimni healing modality, which he now uses to help those who seek balance.