Monday, February 28, 2005


It is easily believable to contend that for most Sillimanians, the fruit often does not stray far from the tree. Talents radiate, and are passed on, like genetic properties, from one generation to the next—always distinctly Sillimanian in flavor and spirit.I learned this one day when a former cook for a high school dormitory once shared to me that this famous teen actor on Philippine television is the son of a Sillimanian. Then he shared his memories and anecdotes revolving around the dormitory life of the father of this young actor. Alas, I failed to document this, and now it is increasingly hard to remember even the names of the father and his son who has made waves in local stardom. I have totally forgotten everything, even the name of the Abby Jacobs Hall storyteller.But the sense of pride I felt from that sharing is still in my heart. It has certainly become one of the building blocks of the Silliman Spirit that I now constantly radiate.This feature of Silliman parents in tandems with their famous children is offered with the hope that the glories they have achieved will spell boldly the Silliman Spirit, the special bond of love that we all share.


When FRANCES MAKIL IGNACIO visited Dumaguete last year, many recognized her as the actress behind the role of Tamara in ABS-CBN‘s Hanggang sa Dulo, then a top-rating soap opera. During a stop in a nearby town in the middle of our itinerary, she had teachers and students from a local public school running after our vehicle. Her fans were excitedly shouting after her, calling her “Tamara!” It was indeed a harvest of recognition springing from a memorable TV performance. And yet there is more of her, from television shows such as Buttercup and others. She is, however, more recognized as a stage actress; hers is a bigger name in Philippine theater, with assorted (and acclaimed) performances in Dulaang UP productions, and a lead role in Fluid, staged by the University of the Philippines Playwright’s Theater. Frances is very much like her late father, ELMO MAKIL, an Outstanding Sillimanian Awardee in the Performing Arts. In fact, she confessed to me that her energy as a performing artist stems from her father who is remembered as one of the best baritones in Philippine music history. The Silliman community will never forget the actor in Elmo, either—the great Elmo Makil, who gave us memorable performances in musicals like The Man of La Mancha, The Fantastiks, and Carousel.


A page in Portal ’79 contains this line, “… LEAH ‘JINGLE’ C. SIBALA, sweet fifteener, won the most coveted title, Miss Silliman, with her charisma.” It is, without doubt, the same charisma that made her daughter PATTY LAUREL win in the recent Philippine MTV VJ Hunt. Patty was chosen over a tough roster of top entertainment personalities, but it was a recognition that sparkled. This daughter of the 1978 Miss Silliman also shines with the same sweetness people knew of her mother. Patty’s magnetism on and off screen is definitely a reflection of Jingle’s lovely presence. Like her Mom, Patty is simply, truly beautiful. That has made her the favorite cover girl of many leading Philippine magazines.

The mother-and-daughter artistic tandem of KITTY and MARIA TANIGUCHI is a partnership that has borne so much creative gusto. Both women are two of the visual artists who were featured during the Silliman Centennial celebration. Kitty is considered as one of the leading women artists in Southeast Asia, and she has rightfully represented the Philippines in various art festivals around the world. Overshadowing Kitty, at some relative points, is her own daughter Maria, who has had a grand slam of sorts in the local art world, winning the various art contests in the country in 2001. The young Taniguchi recently represented the Philippines in the Singapore Art Festival, and there she made her presence felt in the wider world of art. These Sillimanian women share the same passion in painting and sculpture, but they—like the truest artists—capture social realities in different shades and genres.


ISABEL DIMAYA VISTA, the former director of the Silliman School of Music, gave Silliman two national honors when her choirs won two first places in the National Music Competition for Young Artists. And the most memorable of these glories was in 1973 when, as Champion, the Silliman’s Young Singers performed for the former First Lady in MalacaƱang and then at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, together with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. Isabel’s daughter ELIZABETH SUSAN VISTA-SUAREZ also became director of the School of Music, and also directed choirs that became national winners. Her magical distillation of choral music, through the acclaimed SU Campus Choristers, led the way for the choir being chosen as the Philippine Centennial Goodwill Ambassadors to the United States. Like a blast from the past, Susan’s choir also performed with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra during the Silliman Centennial in 2001. Indeed, like mother, like daughter.


The heartthrob of Silliman University High School Class of 1964 LESLIE HO is the proud father of DENNIS TRILLO, the Best Actor of the 2005 Manila Film Critics Awards and Best Supporting Actor in the 2004 Manila Film Festival for his remarkable performance in the movie Aishte Imasu.Winning an award in his first major film assignment is a sign that the name Dennis Trillo will be a big star soon. He was also was featured in the movie “Mano Po 3” as the boyfriend of teen star Angel Locsin who played the role of a smart daughter of Vilma Santos in this film that won Best Picture in the MFF.


The debonair ATTY. FLORIAN ALCANTARA of Class 1989 is very supportive of his son’s showbiz career. And the young Alcantara—who is now known with his showbiz moniker of CRAIG SIROTA—is slowly penetrating the industry with sure breaks in TV and print commercials.Craig who is Nick Alcantara to friends back home has appeared in TV ads such as Taquitos, McDonald’s ‘Love Ko To’ and in the drama program “Maalaala Mo Kaya”. He is now co-hosting to IBC’s noontime show Chowtime Na!. He is also a vocalist in Maryo J. delos Reyes’ boy band M-Gage.


Silliman University High Class of 1999 member JOSE RAMON VICENTE SINGSON DEL PRADO made history when Egg, the first full length Filipino animated film he made as a student project leading to a degree in Communication Arts from De La Salle, won 1st Place in the 5th UP Film and Video Festival in September 2003. It also won the Grand Jury Award from the UP Indeo Film Festival in 2004 and a harvest of honors from other award giving bodies(on February 6 at 8am, Egg will be shown on national television GMA 7). Ramon’s creative success is a reflection of his mother’s versatility as a visual artist. SOCORRO “WING” DEL PRADO, a daughter of a cartoonist, is prolific visual artist. Her costumes and garment designs in school plays and other productions made memorable scenes and characters on and off stage. Her miniature paintings are part of the early works that are now valuable private collection. Ramon is also grateful to his father NONOY DEL PRADO for introducing to him the art of animation. What he got is really in the bloodline! But it’s not just on the creative hands, Ramon also inherited the beautiful genetic make-up of his parents. We will be seeing more of Ramon for this handsome young artist is now at the threshold of a modeling career. He carries not the typical weird image of an artist but that of a hunk with a cool fashion sense.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


What is said to be the world’s oldest profession has also become an “easy job” for almost all ages. From time to time, you get shocked at news of a nine year old or so going into the flesh trade. In fact, prostitution has long invaded the schools.
I was still in a church-based high school in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte when my pretty classmate confessed that she enjoyed the thrill of dating moneyed salesmen and young entrepreneurs. She told me she particularly love the shopping package.
What made matters worse was that I learned that this pretty classmate of mine never got out of such a job even when she was already in Cebu for college. In that big city, her range of clientele simply widened. Ton think that she was a smart student back in high school. She even got the Mathematician of the Year award on graduation day. The typical campus “beauty and brains” in the flesh (no pun intended), now “wasted” by the lure of material gifts from DOM.
While my high school classmate was “working” in Cebu, I didn’t realize that I was also slowly being introduced to their kind of life – right here in this University Town. I was a college freshman then and so, was like a kid brother particularly to two seniors. They would regale me with campus stories, they would take me to clean fun activities and because of their wit and adorable sense of humor, I felt that it was simply cool jamming with the seniors.
Since these two senior-friends of mine would have to fulfill some “extra-curricular responsibilities” at night, they would ask me to do their homework – which I willingly did. And for doing their school assignments, they would reward me with fun-filled weekends in Cebu, a trip to Camiguin island one time and chances to visit their nice affluent homes in Mindanao.
I never really cared to know what kind of “work scholarship” they were into especially that one of them was also very active in church activities. I only learned that these two lady friends of mine had what call “sugar daddies” after one wife barged into my friend’s apartment to confront her.
I should say that today, it’s even worse. And in some instances, less discrete. No one campus in this University Town can claim that their students are all morally prim and proper. I know of students who do this kind of work as a “sideline.” I know of one who is actually engaged in it as her main source of her tuition. (As the story goes, when the old man asks, “what’s your schedule like? The lady eagerly, albeit wrongly, replies, “our midterms would be on… our finals would be…)
I do not know of any formal study that has been conducted to explore the “dark rooms” of campus prostitution but I and my friends have several anecdotal experiences/ eyewitness accounts of student sex workers.
Some dealings are discreet. A student –prosti would approach a storeowner, and borrow some money in a business-like transaction. The mode of payment would be a secret deal. Or she would ask him trough text messaging for a mobile phone load. Aand one thing leads to another.
Or a male student would approach a ‘client’ in a bar and ask to have a drink with him. Inside the dark moviehouse, he would slide beside the possible ‘mama’ and engage her in a conversation of sorts.
Sometimes, these students are so desperate, they would do anything for P100 per “session.” (Again, as the story goes, a DOM asks a student in unform if P50 is okay, and she asks if it could be increased a bit because she has yet to commute home about three of four towns away.) The better your school’s reputation for academic excellence, the higher the rate one could command. So the unwritten rule: Only those coming from “the leading school” can command 500 pesos or more per ‘session.’ (Now pray, tell me, who would want to admit his is the leading school?)
While students in this one university (this University town already has four), would indulge in this “adventure” for dire financial reasons, those from the affluent school are doing it for love. Genuine love.
For sophomore business student Albert, for instance, the monetary aspect is “just part of the thrill.” One would understand that Albert grew up in a family with an absentee father. He never felt deep bond with his medical doctor-dad who was almost always in the hospital operating on someone he hardly knew. Whatever interaction they had was always cold and distant. Or what do you expect from a serious hardworking father who, whenever he was able to come home when everybody still awake, would bark orders and expect strict obedience like he did in his profession? This was how the stern father made an impact on Albert’s young life. Of course, no one expected the campus hunk Albert to eventually fall for the “parental” love from his gay lover, a doctor like his dad, who showered him not just with gifts, but most importantly, quality time and the precious art of listening.
In Sheena’s case, her public school teacher-“stage mother” and OCW father compelled her to out and look for her own love. She had always felt the pressured to excel academically since she was in high school. She was never allowed to socialize for fear it would distract her from her studies. Sheena eventually graduated with honors and got a college scholarship that brought her here – away from home. Finally being in Dumaguete was “sheer freedom” from the regimented life under the careful watch of the stage mother. Like a bird finally out of a cage after the longest time, teenage Sheena has not ceased to flap her wings of freedom all through the night, jumping into the love and care of a “very nice and understanding” medrep who also happens to be very much married.
For Mike, meanwhile, all the perceived images of “good role models” have crumbled. His parents are separated. In third year high, his mentor-priest touched him. And now, one of his college instructors is making him a ” toyboy.” To find love, he intentionally sleeps around with whoever gives him full attention. Not to mention, whoever he sees is able to especially provide for his need for “extra money” to buy “that substance” that has become part of his system.
Our poor national economy is definitely not the only reason why our students are driven into prostitution. The lack of warmth and genuine concern from parents who care in the right way and at the right time should be counted as the main culprit. Then, there is that big failure of the “guardians of the moral fiber.” If we only realized that lessons imparted by high-tech multimedia gadgets and games are louder and more consistent than those at the pulpit. They’re even more intense than programs that promote the boring lessons of values education.
Let it be known that a child today needs a very high quality care experience at home. Young souls like Albert, Sheena or Mike and even my high school classmate in Agusan had stepped out of their homes without such a valuable foundation called parental love. When evidently working, LOVE at home comes without a price tag.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


It was in 2003 when Taiwanese actors, actually a boyband named F4, through the Meteor Garden drama series became the country’s pop icons. The “invasion” was a huge success as they came when the country’s film and TV industry was in a struggle - it seemed to suffer from a lack of new and good material. The fresh look of the F4 drama on campus life gave the badly-needed new blood for Philippine showbiz industry. A foreign creative energy overpowered our very own.
This sad state of the country’s film and broadcast industry was to be the background scenario when Negros Oriental’s very own Eddie Romero was honored as the National Artist for Cinema and Broadcast in 2003.
The honor may have been given at the wrong time, and was in fact, long overdue. But Eddie Romero being awarded with the country’s highest honor in culture and the arts means a lot to us anyway. For students in this University Town, it is a call to discover his gifts of inspiration and sense of nationalism through the knowledge of his classic works.
Eddie Romero’s touch was a major force that led to Phillippine Cinema’s golden age in 1976. It was his Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon? that gave the Philippine film industry a sense of national identity. The use of local color through production design and musical score achieved an Amorsolo light in Philippine cinema. His Kamakalawa, which had the Negros Oriental riverbanks and mountain slopes as setting, was a manifestation of his love for the folkloric Philippines. With all of these, a distinction was made concrete.
It was a delight that through his Alma Mater (Silliman University High School in 1940) the University Town was able to honor him with an important homecoming. On February 11 at the Luce Auditorium, National Artist Eddie Romero was the Guest Speaker for Silliman University Honors Day.
He started his speech with a recollection of the one-act comedy he wrote. Sixty-four years ago when he was still a sophomore liberal arts student, “History is Made in Bed” was mounted on Silliman Hall stage. This was after he sold his first screenplay to a film company in Manila. Knowing now that he started so young as a playwright, and with Dumaguete as the cradle of his early works is truly a great inspiration.
Literary artist and film critic Ian Rosales Casocot describes Romero as “the quintessential storyteller” and “a film artist who is known for going beyond didacticism to tell, in his films, stories about people in the midst of the richness and everyday complexities of their lives.” He further states that among the more than 70 Romero films are masterpieces that “have enriched the Philippine cinema with his deft artistry and activism”. His creative energy has gone as far as major international projects that have “contributed to the pantheon of Hollywood cult classics that have influenced such filmmakers as Quentin Tarantino.”
When invited to share his insights on the Philippine film industry with a classroom session with MassCom students and the Weekly Sillimanian staff, Eddie Romero pointed out the “need for truly passionate film artists” that will not compromise their ideas with trends and commercial pressures.
He also shared that government tax and the lack of support from politicians made it impossible for a director to have all the resources needed for an outstanding production.
There is so much to learn from this National Artist for Cinema and Broadcast. Even his closing statement on Honors Day reveals an important call: “We are all dependent on one another, whether we want to be or not. The quality of a human life can only be measured by the quality of its response to this inescapable need. It is the totality of that response that determines whether nations flourish or wither away. I cannot bear the thought of not having a country to be proud of. Bit there is nothing I fear more than deceiving myself. That is my story for today.”