Sunday, June 29, 2008

Kusog savors small victory with successful fund raiser

What do Danilo ‘Danny’ Fadera, Rico Rafols, Floserfino ‘Flos’ Famarin and daughter Monette, Mary Jane Figurasin-Fajardo, Sibale’s No. 1 Cuncilor Vidal ‘Veding’ Ferrancullo, Annie Fabreag-Lambio and husband Dr. Angel Lambio, Sen. Mar Roxas, Michael ‘Mike’ Faderogao, Sen. Antonio ‘Sonny’ Trillanes, Merwin Mosquera, Job Atillano, Asincrito ‘Cris’ Fababair, Lipa City Councilor Merlo Silva, Mataas na Lupa Brgy. Captain Antonio ‘Tony’ Lumbera, Eduardo T. Mahiya, Basilio ‘Jun’ Mendoza, Eustiquio Famatigan, Leodegario ‘Oding’ Fedejas, Lemuel ‘Sino’ Fanoga, Daniel ‘Danggal’ Fortis, Teddy ‘Pololoy’ Macagaling, Georgio ‘Kamandag’ Fabella, Bienvenido ‘Utan’ Rodelas, Cynthia Rodelas, Bernard Comia, Gil Quiambao, Victoria Maningas, Ressy Lachica, Brgy. Captain Robert ‘Boret’ Magsino, and Raul de Vera, Jr. have in common?

They are all Good Samaritans in the truest sense of the biblical account of the charitable journeyman who came into the aid of a dying stranger mugged and robbed by highwaymen.

Since ancient times, the story about the Good Samaritan has come to symbolize not only the act of helping victims of mugging, robbery, or rape, but all voluntary, unselfish acts of generosity of a person to his fellow man. It is often cited to describe the innate goodness of the heart that gives.

It is also always cited to express the gratitude and thanks of the heart—or the hand—that receives, in this case by Kusog Sibalenhon, Inc., which is the beneficiary of the Good Samaritan gesture of the above-named individuals.

There. In three paragraphs, I’ve gotten off at last with my prefatory statement before I say thank you.

Thank you very sincerely to all of you for your gifts of charity and money contribution to the fund-raiser of the Kusog. That fund-raiser has behind it an exciting story you might care to hear.

We called it “Kayog nak Pabuta: Usang Dominggong Bingo” which we should have conducted last June 22 to bring cheer to and help our fellow Sibalenhons in Lipa City cope with the economic crisis ravaging the country through the distribution of rice and grocery items.

But “Kayog” was rained out by Typhoon Frank, that’s why we had to postpone it for June 29. So yesterday, even while it was drizzling and most Filipino souls were glued to their TV sets watching Manny Pacquiao demolish David Diaz, we finally pushed through with the bingo at the Social Hall of the Lipa City Lion’s Club.

The event was more than we expected. Over a hundred Sibalenhons turned out to play the game, mostly mothers with their kids in tow. This social hall has always been the Mecca of Sibalenhons in Lipa and yesterday the social hall was again full. The gathering turned out to be another reunion and the atmosphere was festive. Very Sibalenhon.

The officials and members of Kusog were there. So were the members. So were those who have heard of the Kusog phenomenon and are aspiring to join. And some Kusog supporters, of course, were there. Seen milling around was former San Pedro barangay captain Antonietto Fabella, who played even with just one bingo card. Macnes Federico, a successful industry owner from Dalajican, was there; so was Jun Mendoza, the incoming hermano mayor of the Sibale Fiesta in Lipa, who was accompanied by wife Victoria.

Most, it seemed, were exhausted after the game, which promptly started at 2:00 P.M. and ended at 7:00 P.M. But the exhaustion was not the main story. It was that 60 percent of the players went home as happy winners, hauling off with them sacks of rice, sardines, sugar, coffee, noodles, some home appliances and kitchen utensils, detergent bars, carpentry tools, and many other items all contributed by the Good Samaritans I mentioned above. Again, thank you to all of you, Good Samaritans. We hoped you were there so you would have seen for yourself the faces of our fellow Sibalenhons that you cheered up with your gifts.

But there was a more heart-rending footnote to “Kayog” which I personally witnessed. This was the poor mother—not a Sibalenhon—who apparently bought five bingo cards (at P10 per card) from a Sibalenhon (whose name I shall not mention), but who did not remit the money to the Kusog treasurer.

Per our rules, an unpaid card will not be allowed to be played and Mariz Fabellon-Federico, Kusog treasurer, politely turned the woman away, who was with her child, explaining to her very patiently the rules. The woman insisted that she had paid for her cards to the Sibalenhon (who I silently cursed for disappearing with the P50 payment). True enough, the cards when examined was genuinely Kusog’s, but it lacked a signature (which meant payment has not been received or remitted).

The teary-eyed woman, sighing heavily, turned back, walking away more heavily. But at the gate, she made a sudden about-face, fished out a crisp 50-peso bill from her pocket, walked towards Mariz and handed her the money. Mariz quickly ushered her to a nearby table where she laid out her five cards. Just after a few minutes, on the second roll of the “tambiolo”, the woman won a sack of rice! What luck! An angel, I suppose, guided the woman, even as I can say that a devil laid siege on the heart of the Sibalenhon who ran away with the woman’s card money.

Because of the huge success of the fund-raiser, we plan to hold a second “Kayog nak Pabuta” this September, and we hope you can join us this time, either as sponsor or game participant. But please help me track down this fellow who is giving the Sibalenhons a bad name. Tell him/her, if you see him/her, that the woman he/she conned of P50 had won in “Kayog nak Pabuta” and that she was very happy.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

1622-Unang Usbor: Now the Asi is singing

Readers, I urge you to visit the Internet website,, where Lyndon Fadri, one of Banton’s most articulate intellectuals, is a resident blogger. His site, Lyndon, contains mostly his musings on Banton arts and culture and his many active engagements in Banton affairs.

Just recently, he posted a record of what I consider a watershed event in Asi culture: the coming of age of a Banton musical group, the 1622-Unang Usbor.

To the ignoramuses in Banton history and Asi language, here’s a little education about 1622 and Unang Usbor.

1622 is the year the pueblo—township—of Banton was founded and established by the Spaniards, specifically the Recollect friars. This was exactly one year over a full century after Fernando Magallanes landed in the Philippines, in 1521, and whose coming changed the course of Iberian civilization.

But don’t be misled. This doesn’t mean that Banton was inhabited only in 1622, or that a Banton community did not exist before that date. Archaeological proof is available that tells us Banton is more ancient than we could imagine; and so 1622 is a period only for reckoning recorded Banton history, not its pre-Spanish existence.

Unang Usbor, on the other hand, is literally the first fresh outgrowth or bud of a plant in the Asi language. Usbor means the first sign of a plant’s life and, taken in the context of life itself, it means hope—hope of survival and of growth.

Thus, 1622-Unang Usbor—as band members Jake Faigao, Bong Faigao, Cecille Fetalvero, Tupi Fedelin, Archie Faigao, and Andres Fababeir, Jr. call themselves as a group—is not only original. It is also historical and pregnant with symbolisms, as well as reflective of the inherent creativity among members of the Asi tribe. Whoever thought of the band’s name had an acute sense of drama and historical perspective. He/she deserves praise.

Which also goes true with the music of 1622-Unang Usbor.

When I first saw Lyndon’s post of the band’s performance of Bantoon, Banwang Pinalangga, a Filamer Fegalan composition (2003), my mind raced to fathom the depths of the Bantoanon soul’s pathos. Having Bantoanon blood in my veins myself, it was not difficult for me, a Sibalenhon, to conclude that 1622-Unang Usbor races, too, like the Fegalan piece, to claim through their craft a unique identity—the Asi identity.

And now the Asi is singing, and singing heartily. Lend them our ears, for their music, like the poetry of Ish Fabicon and Lyndon Fadri, is no longer theirs alone. It is ours as Asi people. It is an additional identikit, a badge of honor we can carry wherever we go. No, wherever we roam, for the Asi is a roaming people.

Now, no amount of criticism, if any will come 1622-Unang Usbor’s way, can diminish the dreaming that ASCCA President Abner Faminiano, Manong Ish, and Jake Faigao, the band’s leader, invested in 1622-Unang Usbor’s coming into being.

According to Lyndon, it was Abner and Manong Ish who facilitated the acquisition of the band’s instruments from the Ugat-Faigao clan in the United States early this year, which enabled the band to rehearse their repertoire in time for the band’s launching last May 6, a date that Lyndon described as the “unveiling of fresh Bantoanon musical talent and a reawakening of Bantoanon consciousness of its culture and history”.

I have not met the band members, but have heard Jake (lead guitar/lead vocals), Bong (bass guitar), Cecille (lead vocals), Tupi (rhythm guitar/keyboard), Archie (drums), and Andres (rhythm guitar and also sound technician) perform.

What can I say, in addition to my raw observation that the Asi is now singing?

Listen to them. Or, better, as an Asi, sing their songs with them. That’s what I should say. Invite them. Celebrate your birthdays and other special occasions with the 1622-Unang Usbor as your front act performers, instead of the ubiquitous karaoke that emits noise rather than music, and which invites mayhem and murder, if news stories are to be believed about people getting knifed to death because they sang My Way out of key.

Lyndon says the band also plays popular English songs and Asi adaptations of both English and Tagalog songs. “The band aims to encourage the flourishing of the Asi language and Bantoanon artistic expression through music by playing mostly Asi songs and adaptations,” he said.

He reported that among the songs presented during the band’s launch were Tamboy Tamboy Agong, Pamintana, Usang Pananamgo, Ako'y Usang Pispis and Ciribiribin. “They also played Sinakugan, their adaptation of the English song Never on a Sunday (which itself is an adaptation from the original Greek song by Manos Hadjidakis) and Pagbalik, their adaptation of Pagbabalik, the song by Lolita Carbon and Pendong Aban, Jr., popularly known as the folk music band, Asin,” Lyndon writes.

“1622 also performed some of their original compositions that night, including Unang Buscar, a somber song about unrequited love; Kuto't Baylehan, an upbeat song inspired by the baylehan, one of Romblon's much-loved social activities; and my instant favorite, Martir,” he added.

I myself have listened to the band’s performance of Pamintana, also at Lyndon’s U-tube post at the Sanrokan website, and I was so moved by its haunting melody that I resolved to sit down with the band soon and do an interview.

Now, go and visit the Sanrokan website.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Kayog nak Pabuta: Usang dominggong bingo

Sa usang dominggo, sa ika-22 it Hunyo, maragipon ka mga miyembro it Kusog Sibalenhon, Inc. (KSI o Kusog) sa Lipa para sa usang okasyong pangkasadyahan nak inggwa it pagserbisyong higako.

Kag okasyon ay sugay nak ging mana it mga Pilipino sa Kastila, pero naging dibersyon o palipasan it oras it mga tawo. Sa Sibale, nak popular kali, ay mga kabade ka karam-ang nag-iidamo it bingo. Ing ka Dominggo pagkatapos it simba, ka ginda ninra ay sa bingohan.

Sa Luzon ay naging sugay nak ragkuan ka bingo. Ag naging adlaw-adlaw wiy; maghapon; ag pabuta ka taya.

Kag pabingo it Kusog ay tunga sa adlaw yang, ag naghihigako nak makatipon it pondo para sa
capability building program it ka organisasyon.

Sa mga waya nakakasador, ka Kusog ay usang non-profit non-government membership organization nak ging patulay it mga Sibalenhon para magbulig sa inra ikakaando ay ikakauswag. Inggwa it mga nakalinyang programang pang pangabuhi ka Kusog ngasing nak 2008, kada nag-iiskusar nak mapakusog ka kapabilidad nak mag implementar it mga proyekto.

Kag huling magpulong kag Board of Trustees it Kusog, napagkasugtanan nak kag pa-bingo ay ata-onon nak Dominggo agor maramong Sibalenhon ka makaka-atendir. Mas maramo, mas masadya. Kada kag “blurb” it paidamo ay ging ayaba namong “Usang Dominggong Pabingo”. “Kayog nak Pabuta” ka ang naisipan nak titulo it kaling fund-raising event.

For many years, Sibalenhon organizations, civic and otherwise, have sprouted on the ground purportedly to serve as formal mechanisms for socio-economic, cultural, and educational activities and as vehicles for the expressions of the members’ longing and aspirations. Initially, these organizations were so enthusiastic and fired up, but in the long run, they lose steam, sputter, and die as if they didn’t exist.

This phenomenon, common not only to Sibalenhon but almost to all Filipino organizations here and abroad, had been a kind of warning that when we established Kusog, we were very careful to define who we are, what we wanted to become, and how we would get to where we would like to go. We were also conscious to not to suffer the same fates of those failed organizations whose skeletons of shattered dreams litter the countryside.

This meant organizing with a vision. And Kusog has one. We also have a mission that every member takes to heart. This is the source of KSI strength and the fuel of its desire to move quickly forward.

As I write this, we had just finalized the process of admitting a new members to Kusog. We would like to make sure that every Sibalenhon admitted to the organization undergoes the same immersion process that the founding members underwent—a one-day study-orientation about the culture of Sibale and the values that identify the Asi. The orientation is also a walk-through the process of imbibing the traits that makes for successful organization members.

Kusog is a small but lean organization. It is new. It still has very few resources. But it already has a track record, however brief. It also has an abundance of talented and hardworking members. Kusog also has a viable platform of action that is geared towards helping Sibalenhons help themselves.

Kada sa adlaw it “Kayog nak Pabuta” sa Hunyo 22, magkita-kita kita sa bingohan sa Lipa. Inggwa ruto it papag nak de tawong matao it mga impormasyon kung pauno maging miyembro it Kusog ag kung ni-o ka mga programa ag serbisyo it kag ato organisasyon.

Sa mga inggwa it sarang nak magbulig, nagbabaton pa ka Kusog it donasyong material ag kas nak ipremyo sa bingo. Pareho it kag pabayle namo it kag Pebrero, ka inro donasyon ay a-resibuhan ag i-anunsyo agor masasaduran it karam-an ka inro tagipusoong maatag. Sang-bakitang salamat.

Kung maado-ado ka resulta it kaling fund-raising event, naggagayak ka Kusog nak magka-inggwa it outreach program sa Sibale ngasing nak Setyembre. Abangi ka mga programa it Kusog ag numunot tiy.

Yabot pa sa miyembro, nagbabaton pa gihapon ka Kusog it maneho ag mga suhestyon kung papauno pa mapapakusog nato ka ato pagkakabugkos bilang namamanwang Sibalenhon sa liwas it Sibale.

Ag habang ging pupoor pa ninro kinang mga maneho ag suhestyon nak ging hahagar sa inro, ako ay maunay sa bingohan. Yanat yang agor makaka-iba kamo gihapon sa “Kayog nak Pabuta.”

Hay, panimati. . . Sa letrang “B” . . . Bin-og. Ay, Bingo!