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Let us now praise famous Visayans

By Amads Ma. Guerrero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:02:00 11/10/2008

Filed Under: Music, Culture (general)

MANILA, Philippines - Ambot sa imo, have the Visayans taken over Metro Manila, which is supposed to be the ?Tagalog heartland?? Why, just the other day my choirmaster, the composer Jerry A. Dadap, a true-blue Visayan from Southern Leyte, was telling us that latest surveys reveal that in the metropolis there are now more Visayans than Tagalogs, Ilocanos, etc.

Well, as a Tagalog with many Visayan friends, I can only say hooray and welcome sa inyong tanan, or something to that effect.

These random thoughts crept through my Ermita, Manila, consciousness during the recent press conference to announce ?Si Lapulapu, si Rosas Pandan: A Bisayan Musical Extravaganza.? The show will be staged on Nov. 22, 8 p.m., at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The press con was held at the CCP?s Silangan Hall.

The musical event is being presented by Kadugong Bisaya Foundation Inc. in cooperation with the CCP and the Department of Tourism (which is, of course, headed by a Visayan).

?Si Lapulapu? brings together a galaxy of artists and groups (not all are Visayans). These include Joey Ayala, Bayang Barrios, Elizabeth Ramsey, Jaya, Rachelle Gerodias, Jos Mari Chan, Nonie Buencamino, Raki Vega, Deeda Barreto, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, the Philippine Dance Sports Association, Ballet Philippines, Modern Ballet Dancers, the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group and composer Dadap?s Andres Bonifacio Concert Choir (ABCC).

Male choristers of the ABCC?led by tenor Jericho Alcala and bass Erick Borlaza?will sing two Visayan canciones (serenades). They will also back up actor Cesar Montano, who plays Lapulapu, the Visayan chieftain who killed Magellan. (Rosas Pandan, on the other hand, is a symbol of Visayan beauty and virtue.)

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra will be led by Chino Toledo. Program director is Chris Millado.

The language issue arose during the press con, although not in a confrontational way. Jos V. Abueva, former President of the University of the Philippines and now foundation chair of Kalayaan College, declared that ?under the onslaught of globalization, Americanization and?some say, ?Tagalization??our indigenous languages, except Tagalog, are being marginalized and threatened with extinction.?

Abueva hastened to add that he was not against Filipino as a national language ?as it evolves? (as mandated by the 1987 Constitution). But ?as of now, Filipino is 95 percent Tagalog. So it is important that various regional languages should contribute to the national language.?

Baltazar Endriga, former CCP president and now foundation president, said that Philippine culture ?is not a monoculture, it is many cultures blending into one national culture.?

He added: ?Visayan culture is very rich. The signature dance Tinikling, for instance, originated in the Visayas, in Leyte.?

?Sa Kabukiran,? by Velez-Galicano is better known as a Tagalog song, Endriga pointed out, but it is really Visayan. Same with the popular Christmas carol ?Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit? (with lyrics by National Artist Levi Celerio). In its original Visayan version (?Kasadya Ning Takna-a?) this song, to be sung by all participants, will cap the Nov. 22 concert.

?Let us respect Visayan, regional cultures,? Endriga concluded. ?Through unity in diversity, we are able to enrich Philippine culture.?

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