Conservatory of Culture

Posted: July 17, 2008 in Cultural

Political and economic issues are now choking Gensan’s information highway. In fact, they are nearing the limits of our mental fortitude. So, it is now time to take respite from all these mind-boggling issues and explore the still widely unchartered terrain – the realms of culture.

Last Saturday, we watched the MSU Kabpapagariya as it rendered a concerto of cultural songs and dances during the wedding reception of Suelyn Guerrero and her American husband, Reginald Williams, at the Phela Grande Convention Center.

The rendition was powerful. We are moved and awed by its mystics. It was so magnificent that our spirit had seemed to depart from our physical self to join the clouds and be free. The spiritual ecstasy was momentary but it was a sweet divine experience for us.

Perhaps, what added to its powerful impact was the way the MSU Kabpapagariya had revolutionized its craft. In the past, the rhythmic, smooth and artistically graceful movements of the fingers, hands, feet and body are specific roles which were traditionally assigned to women dancers. But now, the men are doing exactly these, with perfection and finesse.

Kabpapagariya’s symphony lifted our spirits into the horizons and its dances, showed off in fascinating cadence by men and women clad in mystical native outfits, were virtual time-machines which brought us back into our glorious past, away from the shams and fakeries of the present.

Really, Gregorio Zaide and Teodoro Agoncillo were terribly wrong in tracing our society’s roots, mainly, to the Aetas of Panay. Neither Onofre D. Corpuz was correct to regard the Tabons, the ancient cavemen of Palawan, as our leading ancestors.

We disagree with Renato Constantino that Zaide and Agoncillo and, perhaps, Corpuz had conspired with our colonial masters in committing a wholesale insult against the Filipino race by tracing its roots to lower classes of people. Such sad commentary is inexcusably racial.

But we do agree with him when he said that Zaide, Agoncillo and, perhaps, Corpuz had deliberately schemed to eclipse the many rich Filipino cultures and traditions in the pages of our history and, worse, in the collective memory of the nation.

Fortunately, what our history writers failed to do, the MSU Kabpapariya is doing it us, earning for itself the esteemed honor of serving as the conservatory of our cultural heritage. For this deed, we thank the people behind the MSU Kabpapagariya: Mrs. Estelita A. Aquino; Romy Narvaiz; and Alma Dumalag-Aguja.

Now for the confession! We are supposed to describe how Itangka and Pakirig dances are executed; however, our arsenal for descriptive English words is simply inadequate.

Thus, we encourage our prolific local descriptive writers, Bong Sarmiento, Aquiles Zonio and Russtum Pelima and the rest, to write more about what we consider as the epicenter of our social existence – culture.

We should fight with all our might the forces of cultural contortionism which are now becoming pervasive in our modern society. In the last analysis, it is this that will eventually liberate us from all our woes.

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