JUNE 11, 1998. It was the eve of the country's 100th Freedom Day Celebration. Artists and free spirits of San Jose de Buenavista gather together for the panguyang, a folk celebration ritual accompanied with feasting, drinking, singing and dancing.

In a very meaningful offering, they lighted 100 candles that lit the stage as a prayer is being chanted by artist Ceci Pefianco. Then the spirits of the four elements wind, water, fire & earth were called to complete the celebration. Each spirit was represented by an artist or cultural worker who offered prayers for the community. Farmer and poet Rmey Muescan, with this athlete's body went on stage to draw from an earthen vessel a tattered flag of the Philippines, symbolizing long years of struggle, and requested everybody to sing the national anthem. Cultural worker Bobby Cielo, theater artists Danny Misajon and Wilan Geronimo danced the babaylan to make the tu-ob, a cleansing ritual to drive away the evil spirts. An earthen pot was broken for good luck. While the shattered pieces of the earthen pot was being picked up by the dancers, Akay Flores read Alex Delos Santos' poem "Kanta kang mga babayi sa Bari" (Song of the women of Bari), an ode to the women-potters of Bari, Sibalom town. This opened the first part of the program titled "Lupa kag Kabuhi" (Land and Life). The Busalian group of musicians composed of Sammy Rubido, Noel Tabotabo, and Monet Delos Santos sang songs of homage to the land and its produce, interspersed with readings of poems by Edison Tondares & Nenen Geremia-Lachica.

The second part was called "Paghigugma" (Love), followed by "Handum kag Kahidlaw" (Dreams & Desire), and culminated with "Katimgas kang Kahilwayan" (The Fullness of Freedom). Highlights of the evening were the community singing led by poet and guitarist Moi Magbanua who took everybody down memory lane by singing 70's folksongs like Maningaw nga mata (Lonely Eyes), Daw sa Kanami lang (Oh how nice), Lantawa ang adlaw (look at the sun, composed by Bernie Salcedo, and the classic "Dandansoy." Young poets Genevieve Asenjo and Randy Tacogdoy also read their works. Alex C Delos Santos read three of his latest Filipino poems, each dedicated to a queen: "Fairytale" dedicated to Princess Diana, "last Supper" dedicated to John Iremil Teodoro who now claims himself as the queen of Palawan, and "Lamayan sa Plaza ng San Jose" dedicated to Glenn Mas, queen of Mt. Makiling, (and queen of the plaza, too). Akay Flores read her latest dramatic monologue, Nonong Egida sang one of his compositions, Bobby Cielo performed a song-dance excerpt in full Cebuano, and gentle poet Aurora Autajay, in kimona and patadiong, read her subtly yearning lamentations.

There was also audience participation, when some brave souls volunteered to read poetry impromptu.

The celebration was held in Kruhay Restaurant along Carretas Street. An exhibit of handpainted t-shirts by Ceci Pefianco was opened simultaneously. The exhibit was Ceci's debut in the visual arts scene. She said it depicts the effect of the El Niņo on her haven-camp in Madranca. She called her exhibit "Antiquescapes".

Seen jamming with the artists were St. Anthony's College president Fr. Leus Isulat, interior designer and entrepreneur Nening Dava, poultry business veteran and veterinarian Dr. Cesar Pefianco and son John (in support of sis Ceci, of course) with wife Joahnna and their little girl, the rest of the Pefianco clan, Jing-jing and Jay and company, college sirs silverio maguad, alex crespo and company, regional trial court judge ---- (sorry, his name slipped my mind), barrister maribeth requintina and friends, and sister mary jane, and many friends and supporters.

That evening was one of the more meaningful celebrations this little town has seen in a long while.

This page is maintained by Alex C. Delos Santos. For more items about him or about Antique, visit his homepage by clicking the link.


Alex C Delos Santos Homepage:
The Tabig Writers of Antique: