“All this will not be finished in the first hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first thousand days, … nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”
John F. Kennedy
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you,
then you win.
September in Dumaguete is turning out to be a month of many firsts. And all because some brave souls dared to begin something new even with the presence of loud negative forcasters.
When Naoki Mayuzumi, the president of HI-SAW or the Higala International : Students from Around World, expressed that the first thing he would do as leader of the foreign students organization of Silliman University was to raise funds for the Korean student Samuel Kim who had a vehicular accident and was hospitalized with neuro-surgery involved. He had a cultural-show-for-a-cause in mind as the way to achieve the goal. To ensure patronage and a good audience share, I suggested that HI-SAW would repackage the annual ICE (International Cultural Exchange) using a beauty pageant format, for the Philippines is a pageant-crazy country. Naoki right away made the first steps towards mounting the First Mister and Miss Silliman International. Many campus mentors tried to question the HI-SAW project but it went on with a creative force composed of Kenjie ColaC2 from Saipan and Chantal Theil of Germany with the students from Davao completing the working team, Nonito Cuizon as choreographer and Raissa Matunog as script writer. As expected in its first mounting, the show wasn’t perfect but it gave dimensions in pageant possibilities.
One thing that made it unique were the talents: Mr. Iran Tedrik Norouzi showed his expertise in Persian cooking, Miss Indonesia Precy Cua who was chosen Best in Talent performed her own Bahasa translation of Bryan Adam’s Heaven, Mr. Nigeria Japheth Chinedu Anyaji showed his MVP glory in soccer, Mr. Japan Yoji Kusumi displayed the art of Japanese calligraphy, Miss Korea Joo-Young Park performed a folk song using a bamboo flute, Mr. Jordan Muneer Ali Adel AbuRumman shared a poem in his language, the talent awardee for men Mr. Indonesia Bryan Wagey had fun on stage with his trumpet, Miss USA Treana Marie Havranek had a touching musical number of joy and hope overshadowing images of the 9/11 tragedy and there were a lot more. The 15th of September pageant was a memorable first in our University Town.
When people heard of Payag sa Likod, the restobar that’s giving Dumaguete its first party place with a Boracay energy, many laughed at its existence for it’s away from the waterfront. I heard them say that the party joint along the North Road would not last a year for people would get tired of the ‘artificial’ concept. But the management team behind Payag had proven them all wrong for last Monday, the 18th of September, Payag celebrated its first anniversary with a blast! Capturing an even more intense Boracay spirit with an RnB party featuring DJ Kimozave of Francis M’s concerts, Boracay’s MC Phat George who mounted ‘hot’ games of seduction with Manila’s Ledge Dancers – all these were put together by eventologist Toto Marquez, the man behind GEA Events. The night also had our very own Short Fun who gave a high-energy reggae jam. We forgot that it was on a Monday for Dumaguete’s livewires and party animals were all there. The celebration of The First will definitely usher us to another year of colorful Payag moments.
I also had a corner of sweet memory last Wednesday, the 20th of September, when I decided to revisit Woodward Little Theatre. I arrived before playtime and witnessed the transformation of familiar faces and the last touches on stage to capture the setting: a city park in the 1920’s. I was very delighted to see that this old little center of culture is alive with young talents. I was there to see the first work of a very talented comedy actor Rosbert Christian P. Salvoro as director. For his debut, this senior student in Speech and Theatre chose Glenn Hughes’ Red Carnations. It was my first time to experience a romantic comedy with the shortest running time but within the 35-minute act were good moments of laughter at those gentle heartfelt twists. First time to be in a theater production was Benjamin S. Dizon who played the father. His voice acting built a strong character on stage. Matti Hescock as the daughter had an effortless performance for she was perfect for the lovely object of desire. Successfully giving the boy an innocent nature was Josef Gil Cruz. He also gave it just the right tension although there were those uncontrolled Mr. Public Speaker hand movements. It was a wonderful first for Mr. Salvoro who gave much passion to the production.
Have you heard of Boston Market? It’s an American chain that specializes in rotisserie chicken, turkey, meatloaf, roasted sirloin, sandwiches, and a variety of side dishes with a catchy motto: Time for Something Good! A version of this classy food stop opened Monday, the 25th of September. It has the same name, but Dumaguete’s Boston Market along Noblefranca Street promises to share their own affordable fine dining delights: try the Boston Market Roasted Chicken and it will be your first taste of an oven roasted but perfectly moist chicken with seven herbs and spices giving it an inviting aroma, or the Pasta Tricolore with the hearty vegetarian sauce of brocolli, tomatoes and zubergines. There is only one man behind all these: Palawan’s favorite chef Quddus Padilla. I was there before it opened and this guy is like Superman’s version in the kitchen. There was no need for him to work with an architect and carpenters for he did it all from furniture design and carpentry to wall painting. With the help of his multi-tasking empowered staff: Eden, JR and Melanie and consultants like the constantly vibrant Sharon Dadang-Rafols with her buddy-for-all-seasons Jaruvic and Pam Galvez with her art & heart connection Jutze Pamate, Dumaguete now has the latest addition to its cosmopolitan lane. Quddus’ magical touch in interior design and carpentry stems from a childhood experience which was in his stepdad Franz’s boat building world. Check out how our lowly Daro bricks are used to give the dining tables the unique texture. Feel like a crowned prince with the chairs regal support. Business partner Michelle Joan Valbuena is always in excitement with the everyday new discoveries at Boston Market. Quddus’ inspiration in this business are the people of Dumaguete whose good taste has allowed him to explore new possibilties.
The greatest first moment in September was when our very own Carmelo A. Elli was given the very special opportunity to be guest conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert last Thursday, the 28th at Foundation University’s Sofia Soller Sinco Hall. With his humble presence, Elli went to lead the orchestra with calmness that brought strength to Romero’s arrangement of the Visayan classic Matud Nila. This was followed by the his own arrangement of the Dumaguete Hymn. Elli with the PPO gave the familiar piece a new dimension – with the performance, our city’s hymn has reach a point of respect for its enduring value. Giving a space to a local talent is one beautiful act of generosity by the PPO’s conductor Eugene Fredrick Castillo.
Eugene, born and raised in America, as the conductor of the country’s leading orchestra gave our source of national pride a sense of completeness for he is truly Filipino in spirit. When told about his impact to the Filipino audience’ sense of nationalism, the young Maestro shared that race is not to be a consideration in his music for he has had equally wonderful experiences with musicians from other countries. He added that even the difference in language has no bearing for when “music begins, a connection will always be made.” Castillo’s welcoming and generous heart was at work on that memorable evening in Foundation University. Even with the disturbing applause in between movements of Schubert’s and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8, he was still very much into his music. The passion was strongly felt by the audience and his amazing control brought us to total silence – awed by the subtle energy of his dreamy touch. A force so serene manifest his unique leading like in those turns to face the violinists and bring them into an amazing unified range. The standing ovation finally came after he generously shared as an encore the all-time favorite medley from the Sound of Music. The applause in between movements and the delayed standing ovation were to be forgiven and be taken as part of the beautiful first-time experience – a point to grow for those would soon become faithful audience of the classical music. Thanks to Foundation University’s dynamic culture movers for a valuable gift of education. This outreach program of the PPO deserves a rewind on the same FU stage.
The last days of September would be the busiest for Claudio Ramos, the indefatigable performing artist. He is directing “Dinhi Ra Ko Kutob ug Daghang Salamat,” the first Cebuano play that will be mounted at Woodward Little Theater this school year. Mass Communication student Naddie May Orillana did the translation of the original play in Tagalog “Hanggang Dito Na Lamang at Maraming Salamat” by Orlando Nadres. The Silliman production which will open on October 2 will feature first time actors Kenn Acabal, Aiken Quipot and Ralph Olegario. From the rehearsals, Speech and Theatre Department Chairperson Prof. Nora Ravello noted how good are the actors in this play that digs on the world of a closet gay. It would be exciting to see another first and with the very creative Claude as director, the fun side of it is guaranteed. In his own words, “…this is my first play and I am giving it my all.”
Be the first in your circle to experience what are still out there beyond September.