Monday, April 18, 2005

a tea party called beauty

Tea is taken around the world and its influence spans cultural as well as economic boundaries. Tea has played a vital role in world politics, wars, literature, romance, and cuisine. It has been ascribed a spiritual and mystical connection to the soul in the East, while in the West it has been considered in turn to be an evil liquor, a medicinal cure for almost any ailment, and a symbol of imperial oppression. To many, tea is the nectar of life.-The Afternoon Tea Party
aftrenoon TEA party (photo by: Carmen del Prado)
Among the lessons learned on this school break is the very subtle power of the tea. With its simplicity and smoothness, it bridges everyone to a celebration of a wonderful life. Such was this tea party in the slopes of Mampas in Valencia.
The connection towards the gathering started with the tiny blue card inviting me for an afternoon tea to formally welcome a couple, both visual artists. With just the card with a bouquet of wild flowers, promising an afternoon of warmth and elegance. That special touch was an achievement that only a hostess like Ms. Arlene Delloso-Uypitching can pull without much effort. Simply so lovely and true to the tea spirit.
It was a small gathering at Don and Arlene’s abode in the sky. The four-wheel drive towards this spot in Mampas on a summer day was thrilling with twist and sharp curve under the able control of Mampas king, Don. The folk genres were rolling with the greens and blooms of nature.
The welcoming smiles of ‘Prince’ David and ‘Princess’ Hannah confirm the promise of pure joy that afternoon. The small party was meant to be a ‘fellowship of the fortunate few.’ All of us there were actually ‘Mampas regulars.’ Although the sweet memories of our Mampas ride up was not to be the only common ground.
Working with Arlene in the preparation were the tea party honorees themselves, Cez Nuñez and Brian Uhing (Brühn in the Philippine art world), who have just decided to make Valencia their home in Negros.
While waiting, I kept myself busy by exploring once again the beauty of the house. Something on the wall is new- a nude by Cez. Her strokes run with passion: a beautiful woman showing her back. Then a new framed glory on a table, a photograph of Brian’s masterpiece. This oil called Lulu has Swahili pearls on the pear in royal bedroom glory. You could see the amazing control of the brushstrokes – smooth yet powerful. His was classical in discipline, but less of the silence as there was so much sense of humor.
He showed me another photograph of his work. It was with Cézanne’s favorite still-life, but Brühn’s fruit tray dwarfed a man with a canvass. This awesome piece is called Searching for Subject Matter.
The Uhing’s is a beautiful tandem, with hands that work tirelessly for us to see so much beauty in life. The smile of their handsome son River simply echoes all these light and bright things.
Another family of artists was there with us, the Del Prados: Nonoy, his lovely wife Wing, and their daughters Carmen and Anna - smart and beautiful like their parents.
When Arlene announced that it was actually Wing’s birthday, I ran to Arlene’s garden and picked a pretty purple carnation and some bachelor’s buttons to give to the birthday girl.
Brühn’s masterpieces made very good conversation piece, ushering us to fun ‘art talk.’ The Del Prado sisters agreed nodded knowingly as their Mom shared with us some smart art thrills in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
With her art of listening, Tita Carmen Rio’s responses were full of wisdom. Her knowledge of human nature and popular culture brought us back to her generation. Film artist Jonah A. Lim had praises for Tita Carmen. At 69, this wife of the late general based in Iloilo, exudes so much youthful charm and beauty.
After more tea and wonderful conversation, Tita Carmen admitted that she had reservations earlier about fellowshipping for the first time with artists, considered by not a few as a “different moody breed who could be difficult to get along with.”
But no. On the contrary, Tita Carmen expressed that the experience simply gave her immense joy and how the kindred soul in Cez made the time so enjoyable.
More tea flowed. We took our pick: cinnamon, lemon, green, raspberry, Ceylon, apricot, citrus, peppermint. They all blended well with nature’s relaxing kisses, and each went particularly well with light pastries and cakes Arlene prepared for us. The list couldn’t have been complete without Chantilly’s colorful smallies: cakes with chocolate, strawberry and other fruit delights.
Just when we thought we had eaten enough, Arlene had also prepared for us her famed pasta carbonara. The simple tea party had grown to be a fiesta of flavors and colors. The promise of the little blue card was fully justified!
And with the sunset at dusk, we viewed Jonah’s short films capped in sepia and in full color – some of which have been screened in international films festivals in the US, Italy, New Zealand, and around the country; or received jury citations of honor.
It was a perfect way to cap the afternoon. The creative works’ simplicity blending well with the fine tea spirit that is in all of us.

Friday, April 08, 2005


A great part of Dumaguete as a University Town is its cultural life. The culture colors are so vivid as they are mounted with the youthful energy of the students from different campuses. And the most visible art form is dance. From folk to modern, from classical ballet to the contemporary social realism, and from festival traditions to the hip-hop and the street body language, Dumaguete’s vibrant spirit in dance is endless!
The dance history of Dumaguete, a noted cultural center of Southern Philippines, has achieved concrete forms even before balitaw and kuradang evolved with a touch of Spanish grace and romantic intensity. These folk traditions were never destroyed even when the American educators at Silliman University overshadowed the Spaniards with the square dance and the ballroom hits like line dance and waltz.
On stage, the University Town had its first local harvest of ballet productions in 1961 when a dance program had its formal offerings under the direction of Luz Jumawan.
Ms. Jumawan, a Silliman and St. Paul alumna, studied dance at the Anita Kane Ballet School in Manila, and also had French ballet training under Cassel. She founded the Silliman University Dance Troupe, which became well received critically for most part because of her creative direction. She was noted internationally when she choreographed the aboriginal dance pat of the cultural pageantry that opened the 2000 Sydney Olympics. (She’s now based in Australia.) With this achievement and a lot more, Jumawan deserves to be recognized as one of the cultural heroines of this University Town.
The Jumawan legacy reached its apex in 1968 when Shona Mactavish of New Zealand visited Silliman. Ballet and interpretative movements became the SU Dance Troupe’s popular creations.
In 1972, Mactavish came back to join the SU faculty. Under her direction, the talent of the Serion sisters , Luwalhati and Liwayway, were “discovered” and from then on became the Town’s leading dance artists.
It was through the efforts of the younger Serion, Liwayway Arabe, that Mactavish’s contributions were preserved. Arabe even had her own productive years with her original choreography in Philippine air. She then became director of the Silliman Dance Troupe. Later, she shone as the creative force behind what was then known as the CVPC Dance Troupe.
While the Silliman Dance Troupe was in silence, the MEV (Mariant Escaño-Villegas) Dance Studio kept the art of dance in this town constantly in good shape with their annual recital . Talents from the MEV Dance school dominated the different campuses who became the regular features in school programs.
Thanks to MEV, the City had its grand moment in dance when the National Dance Congress was conducted here in 2003.
Then, there was the Panaghiusa sa Sayaw in February this year where MEV interpreted in dance the kundiman classic with Lucio San Pedro’s Saan ka man Naroroon.
That event gave us so much pride and joy knowing that the University Town served as host to the country’s leading dance companies.
The Silliman University Dance troupe was recently revived under the directorship of the Makiling Art School dance teacher Ronnie Mirabuena. Folkdances from Luzon to Mindanao were in tapestry called “Tara na, Biyahe na, ” a dance concert in March.

The Foundation University Dance Troupe has also taken center stage through the years – as a regular feature in many community events like welcoming VIPs from all over the world (like former US President Jimmy Carter’s visit launch the Habitat for Humanity here). It was heartwarming to see the FU Dance Troupe do folkdances with traditional and contemporary versions and the lively blend of grace and strength.
And as the polytechnic college was renamed Negros Oriental State University, so did its dance troupe get a new name: the NORSU Kabilin Dance Troupe.
Kabilin literally means legacy, but it also connotes the values of kinship and the attitude that we carry as cultural moves.
The leadership of Dr. Vivitz Grace P. Electona achieved national recognition when Carlou G. Bernaldez’s version of the national dance tinikling won first runner-up in the National Folk Dance Competition held in West Visayas State University in Iloilo City.
The Kabilin is noted for its many Visayan dances. There’s Lapay Batigue, a dance from the Leyte-Samar provinces that imitates with so much fun the movements of the seagull.
The Ilonggo dance called Pamulad Isda is full of playful movements reflecting the fishing tradition of Cadiz City in Negros Occidental.
Negros Oriental is very well a part of the fiesta showcase with Polka Biana, a dance which actually originated in Zamboanguita.
At NORSU, Bhours and Vincent, serve as dance masters of the group, never fail to bring the audiences in awesome moments as they come in pursuit of the Filipina grace and charm of Milryn. Watching them is like bringing Amorsolo to life!
The Dumaguete folk dance tradition still has so much to offer. The Priscilla Magdamo Visayan Music Collections are rich materials for a choreography filled with authentic local colors.
Mounting Valencia’s Baling Mingawa, a duet by two mountain women, will be one beautiful body poetry that will paint nostalgia in the air.

Monday, April 04, 2005


This statistics is a result of the study conducted by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), based on the average passing in the BOARD EXAMINATIONS OF ALL COURSES of all universities and colleges in the Philippines.

This study is concluded every 10 years. The following is the result of the first study from
1992 to 2001. Five schools come from Luzon, two from the Visayas and three from Mindanao.

1. University of the Philippines (Diliman Campus /Luzon)

2. Silliman University (Dumaguete City / Visayas)
Silliman-University old pix

3. Ateneo de Davao University (Davao / Mindanao)

4. Ateneo de Manila University (Manila / Luzon)

5. University of Sto. Tomas (Manila / Luzon)

6. Mindanao State University (Mindanao)

7. Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (Manila /Luzon)

8. Saint Louis University (Baguio City / Luzon)

9. University of San Carlos (Cebu City / Visayas)

10. Xavier University (Cagayan de Oro /Mindanao)