Founders Day at Silliman University could be the longest “day” on earth because celebrations started on Aug. 2 and has yet to end with a Post-Founders Day Fellowship on Saturday, Sept. 17 in Davao City.
That Founders Day would run close to about 1,200 hours. With a very long day to conquer, one could possibly get overwhelmed by the seemingly-equally important events that actually, only needs prioritizing.
Besides, you can count by one hand perhaps those that are truly worthy of your time and limited human energy and capacity.
As an avid enthusiast of culture and its development in this part of the world, I tried to be omnipresent (if I am not yet so) in almost all the events showcasing Silliman’s distinctive culture and glories in the arts, always looking for the original idea before I get totally impressed with the production. Originality, being the main criterion in my Top 5 Shows during this year’s Founders Day crowd-drawers.
In chronological order, these shows drew not only quality audiences (read, the important faces and names of the City, the country, from abroad), but also praises for their production as they were refreshing gifts to Silliman’s 104th birthday.
1) August 19 was the final night for ICE (International Cultural Understanding), a journey around the globe mounted by Higala International: Students from Around the World (HI-SAW). Each country mounted a sitcom that revolved around the visit of a Filipino tourist played by Thai student Suthai Katima , who was scriptwriter and director of the play. The introduction of different cultures through sitcoms brought different levels of the sense of humor that unified the world on that night. Memorable moments include the sumo wrestling bout by Naoki and Youji, the Koreans passion for soccer, a Russian vodka drinking session with Francis George, the confusing gift-giving traditions of the Persians, the hot and spicy Indonesian cuisine point, and the “lost in translation” gig in Paris with Chantal. Non-stop laughter in vivid culture colors!
2) The impact of the Miss Silliman Pre-Pageant on Aug. 20 actually overshadowed the Pageant night. Both the talents show and interview portion were great delights. The audience loved the Persian bets especially during the Pre-Pageant night, Miss Engineering Sarah Aghabararian serenading the applauding crowd with a Tagalog love song; and Miss CITCS Sanaz or Fatemeh Ahmadi Zeleti surprising everyone with her professional belly-dancing skills. The one who won Best in Talent is the bet from the College of Performing Arts Joyce Zerda who played the cello and sang a jazz song, she was eventually crowned Miss Silliman.
The pre-pageant, where the candidates deliver a speech on a particular theme and answer questions in an open forum, was first done in 1982. It’s been 23 years.
3) Aug. 23 was a unique day for young people who were gathered at the Luce foyer to listen to pop, reggae, and rock bands, in all one concert. Called Unang Hibalag, the gig was different in the sense that the youth bands were actually performing Christian pop and rock songs. Simply awesome to hear rock rendition praising Jesus Christ. It was edifying to see children, teenagers, and parents from different fellowships in this University Town together and one in body and spirit.
4) A week-long painting exhibit called Voyages a Travers Le Temps et L’espace (Travel through Time & Space) by Edmund Bendijo, a Sillimanian who is now a Goodwill Ambassador of France, was rare highlight. The show, which opened on Aug. 24, had the typical Bendijo palette of happy colors. Even his blue exudes a relaxing density. Each piece was inspired by the movement of the lines in a crumpled paper, and the joyful melodies of music. His works in an intelligent abstraction captured people on an island, the crowd in an urban center, the dialogues of the artist’s past and present encounters, and many more. Lyric Expressionism is a style that can only come from Edmund Bendijo, a grand prize winner of a French international painting competition. If you missed the works mounted by his College of Business Administration family, you can follow them in the exhibit’s next stop at the world’s culture capital, New York.
5) I am tempted to rank this next events as the number 1 show because it achieved a two-fold purpose: to successfully celebrate the theme of the 44th Annual Church Workers Convocation “Proclaiming the Gospel in a Pluralist World toward a Dialogue o Life”, and to provide high quality entertainment for the audience composed of church people from all over the country. The Bahaghari mounted at the Luce Auditorium on Aug. 30 by the Banikanhong Magdudula of the Divinity School had original songs with Dessa Quesada Palm as lyricist, music by Jeaneth Harris-Faller, and musical direction by Jean Cuanan. Only the fourth production of Banikanhong Magdudula under Dessa’s direction, and Frances Mendez as an assistant director, it was a tapestry of the Divinity School students’ personal accounts from their home churches on the diverse cultural religiousity in the country. In three acts, the beautiful blend of popular culture and indigenous art brought the audience to an awareness of today’s issues affecting the Filipino church life. It was also wonderful to see the students enjoying on stage the wonders of theater, giving them self-confidence and the passion of true performing artists. I am sure the real harvest of glory will be in the near future when these young actors will be playing their real-life roles as servants of the Lord with courage and creativity; afterall, the concrete Bahaghari experience has planted within them a seed of faith on their God-given talents.
Honorable mention will go to the Body Painting contest conducted by the College of Nursing & Allied Health Sciences to promote once again the anti-smoking advocacy. It sent out a powerful message even with the total silence of the colorful visual creations on the human skin.
Another honorable mention goes to Silliman Performs, a Cultural Affairs Committee production. It could have been on my Top 5 list as it was supposed to be a showcase of Silliman’s bests in the performing arts, but two or three numbers were included there that had very low production value, pulling down the total impact of the show. But in every high or low point of a performance, our gratitude still goes to the artist, for in the words of Chicago’s Byrne Piven, “a community without artists is not a true community; only people living in the same vicinity.”