TALI-AMBONG | PERFORMANCE REVIEW | The Himamaylan Arts Month 2021 celebration: A smorgasbord for the senses, arts as equalizer

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Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.

First of two parts

To fully understand the meaning behind the Arts Month celebration of Himamaylan City, one has to start at the end of the two-hour long performance.

Like Guy Pearce in “Memento” who has to piece together his memories to understand his wife’s death.

To one, like this writer, who had the privilege to watch the performance live and up close at the Sangguniang Panlungsod session hall, the Monday (15 February) hybrid performance was a smorgasbord for the senses, the mounting and presentation a challenge in itself that required creative thinking.

But it was this finale at the end of the film-song-dance-musical performance that defined the night and provided a glimpse into the talents that abound in the once slumbering city that has gained momentum over the past few years under a younger leadership.

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The finale was a show by itself – a rousing aural and visual extravaganza of both creators and creations that had everyone, at least the few gathered inside City Hall, on their feet when the lights were turned off.

It was like a chef gone wild in the kitchen, one who in a fit of madness dumped anything within reach into a wok.

As the Patik Kawayan acoustic group and the rondalla or string ensemble of the Himamaylan High School provided the musical accompaniment, a trio of singers from the Special Program for the Arts of Himamaylan High School sang the upbeat composition.

In the middle of the floor, facing the singers, and flanked by the Patik Kawayan to her left and the rondalla to her right was Amy Grant Castillo, SPA teacher of the school, who wrote the song, the script of the short film shown that day.

She also conducted that night.

Immediately behind the back of the singers were the all-male hip hop and the pop and jazz dance groups, both all- women, who were giving their all, tripping the light fantastic so to speak.

Just when you thought it could not get any better, the unexpected happened.

Two dance choreographers coaxed Mayor Raymund Tongson, Vice Mayor Justin Gatuslao (those who belong to the nagahari nga sahi as the Marxists are wont to say), and several city councilors to front and center to join the dancers, instantly turning the performance into a community event by blending Tongson and Gatuslao, the patrons of the performances with the performers.

Those who govern joined those who are being governed, the dance floor equalizing them all, if not showing the equity of things, as Tongson and Gatuslao yielded to the flexibility and gracefulness of the performers who are way younger than them.

Leading local artists, theater guru Ismael Java and dance exponent Rudy Reveche, were gracious in their reviews during the technical rehearsal.

“Congratulations to all of you,” was their common opening lines to the performers composed mostly of high school teens and college students of two public high school.

In part two: history, legacy and identity in four parts

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