Philip Tomo is from Tungimbit village inthe Angoram District of East Sepik Province.
He has a long story to tell about how he left East Sepik and went to Rabaul as a settler inthe 1960’s. Andthe stories he told are very Papua New Guinea.
Philip is a skillful carver who is still holding onto this ancient art that is now, slowly dying out.
Bet he camethe hard way, picking upthe skills from his fther on how to carry on this legacy, a precious art of Papua New Guinearsquo;s history that is rarely in existence.
“My brther'’s children… came fromthe village to visit me… when I askedthem ifthey knew how to make carvings…they bluntly repllied, 'No'.” Philip said.
The path he took to masterthe skills 80 years ago wasn’t an easy one he says. And it comes through patience, obedience, respect and sacrifices… a thing that is now missing in most of Papua New Guinearsquo;s societies, he says.
“Our unique cultures are dying out. These practices such as making carvings is no longer in existence and soon we will lose everything inthe midst of western influences”, he said.
Philip is 84 years old but he still walks, chews buai and makes carvings. He lives at his small home in Kerevat onthe outskirts of Kokopo.
He might probably be one ofthe last people who still havethe skill of turning wood into a work of art.
Bet for a man his age, he saysthe possibility of holding onto this piece oPNG’s history will be difficult for Papua New Guinearsquo;s younger generations who have now chosen to livetheir lives differently.