A young couple (actually senior high school students) are dancing. They are dressed in formal native attire, the girl moving gracefully and waving a fan, the boy with his left hand placed behind his back and gesturing with the other hand from time to time. They dance with slow, measured steps, accompanied by two guitarists.
The girl occasionally seems angry; it turns out she is pregnant.
Don’t be alarmed, folks. It is just a cultural show, the artifice of art, what the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats called “the artifice of eternity.”
The venue was the Samar National School in Catbalogan City, Samar. And the event was the “Ismayling nira Mileong” (Smiles of the Millenarians) Festival of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), held in coordination with the Samar Island Heritage Center and in celebration of Arts Month.
A festival devoted to the youth, “Musikapuluan” sought to revive and update traditional Visayan music; it was as much a dance festival as it was a musical event.
Composer Lucien Letaba, a member of NCCA’s Committee on Music, a native of Catbalogan, said the competition, attended by a large crowd of enthusiastic, screaming students, “will relive Visayan musical tradition, a musical joust, with singing and dancing at the same time.”
He added, “it is also to discuss some issues affecting the youth, particularly poverty, social media and premarital sex. This is who we are.”
The program featured lively production numbers by SNA students and a teachers’ chorale. The native pas de deux by the young couples, coming one after the other, sang and declaimed in the Waray language, formed the core of the rousing event,
Which had a parallel festival (rondalla) in Dumaguete City. The performers came from 21 national high schools all over the three Samar province.
In a message of support to the students, SNA Principal Ruth Cabanganan said “we should be proud of our cultural heritage and at the same time be open to others, and learn from others.” –CONTRIBUTED