"You don't have to have special effects or a naked woman or violence to make a good movie." - Emmanuel Priou, producer of March of the Penguins
I have noticed that big-budgeted events in Dumaguete usually become disturbingly heavy with their fiesta tendencies – gentle elegance totally gone. It’s ‘too much’ when you see a stage that overpowers the performer, it’s “too much” when two “politicians” outdo each other with Dolphy-inspired wit, its “too much” when the introduction is longer than the main part, it’s “too much” when the emcee will try so hard to cover every dead air and mouthing like a jologs Wowowee host….
The celebration of the 107th Founders Day of Silliman University banked more on human talent than on the financial source to define excellence. In fact, the events which were visibly commercial suffered from lack of the creative force to mute or tame their “ visual noise.”
The perpetually-Oscar-inspired creative mind of Ian Rosales Casocot actually works as a one-man team. He can produce a good event in just a night or two: a good idea, a workable script, a well-chosen creative team, a vigilant and secure (not suffering from attention-deficiency) director and a realistic time-table. I hope every event organizer was there to watch the mounting of the 2008 Outstanding Sillimanian Awards – it was an event that almost flowed smoothly from the working force backstage to the actual performers. I salute the awardees who , except for one, were sensitive to time and showed subtle humor in their acceptance speech. A slight interruption caused by a technical glitch was within the span of patience of our dignified audience. The MTV-inspired profiles of the awardees on power-point, the music of Dr. Elizabeth Susan Vista Suarez and the Campus Choristers and the intelligent intermission number - Marge Evasco’s “Sagada Stills in a Floating World” set in music by Reginald Bernaldez - it was a Seurat with the movement of Dali. All these made the 2008 Outstanding Sillimanian Awards easily the best event last August.
For sheer entertainment, all you need is a good performer, good choice of music based on audience appeal and a production design that blends with the performer. Ryan Villanueva, son of this year’s Outstanding Sillimanian awardee in the field of Community Health Service Dr. Romy Villanueva, was the sunshine at night last Founders Day. This Filipino-American artist was so popular, he was hopping from one stage to another and from one top bar to another. But his best performance was in Payag sa Likod – when the intimacy between the good-looking and talented performer and his audience was picture perfect. He started on common ground: the music from The Legend Bob Marley. The easy flow of his own compositions - Chillin’ Right Here, The Kite, Many Things to Learn and his own arrangement of Usahay - endeared him to Dumaguete audience.
Bayanihan was a good welcome for many of our campus balikbayans when they watched the homecoming performance of the Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company dubbed as “Surging to the Crest”. Our Goodwill Ambassadors to the world won championships in the many dance festivals in Europe, and their magic was seen in their program mounted at the Luce Auditorium. The grace and energy of arnis - the Filipino martial arts were incorporated in their choreography for maglalatik, the sayaw sa bangko, and singkil. Campus visitor Nenita Ponce de Léon Elphick of Harvard University Department of Art and Architecture expressed pride in her Filipino heritage while watching the Bayanihan’s soaring at the Luce.
An intellectual exercise was among the best events last Founders Day: the International Symposium on Nursing which echoed the Founders Day theme: “Silliman Education and its Global Reach and Relevance.” The keynote speech of the Chief Scientist for Nursing and Midwifery of the World Health Organization Dr. Jean Yan (2003 Outstanding Sillimanian awardee) and the presence of the robot Stan were among the highlights. The delegates from Iloilo City whom I had the opportunity to send-off thanked me for their Silliman experience which to them defined the meaning of excellence in the nursing profession.
Four landmarks were named to honor leaders in Silliman’s history but the ceremonies naming the Silliman library in honor of Drs. Robert and Metta Silliman had the cutting edge: the presence of the honoree’s foster daughters and former students. It was a simple but a meaningful gathering. It started with poetry reading of the works of the students of Dr. Metta Jacobs Silliman which included that of country’s literary icons Edith Lopez Tiempo, Myrna Peña-Reyes and Aida Rivera Ford. The anecdotes and responses from Eleanor Funda Sardual and Emma Cole Teves, foster children of Bob and Metta Silliman, were inspiring and entertaining testimonies of the couple’s missionary care.
Special Mention: The best time to watch the Miss Silliman Beauty Pageant is always during the pre-pageant segment. It was a good idea this year to bring back the pre-pageant as a morning event. In the 1980s they had them also in the morning at SC IIO which had media people as panelists. The 2008 pre-pageant was held at the Luce Auditorium and it was a showcase of a quality student production. The speeches and the Q & A’s with the candidates this year were very impressive – it greatly overshadowed the Q & A of the Binibining Pilipinas which had the Janina San Miguel disaster. The talent presentations were not more-than-usual but the show’s entertainment value was saved with the medley of songs from the College of Performing Arts talents during the intermission: Jon Quizo, Krista Beatingo , Flintzel Diao and Abby Yap. Many of our visitors from Manila and abroad were saying, pageant organizers can actually get good ideas from the pre-pageant. The hosts Noel and Treana did so well.
Please don’t ask which events were in my worst list for they don’t deserve even a mention. As they say, the worst criticism is the total absence of a feedback.