Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sibale’s biggest event of 2009

There is no doubt that the Sibale Academy’s Alumni Homecoming last April 11-14 is the grandest event of 2009 in the history of Sibale.

I am not exaggerating. I’d like to direct you to the photo and video gallery of www.sibale.amorfrancis.com to believe this. After browsing this site, write me your thoughts and tell me if I’m wrong.

Joey M. Fradejas and Merwin F. Mosquerra had posted on this site excellent photographs and raw video footages of the event not only for those who were not able to attend, but also for those who are interested. These photos and videos would be a rich source of visual information in the future, when historians write the continuing story of the only private high school in Sibale.

Many alumni left Sibale after the homecoming with plenty of stories to tell. In fact, some, like Rhodora Pinky Fabreag-Labordo, had already sketched blow-by-blow accounts of their experiences during the homecoming. I encourage those who were there to write their thoughts, too, and submit it to me for a possible book project.

If you wish to know more about the school and the event, perhaps you’d like to buy a copy of the Saha, the 108-page souvenir book of the homecoming. Saha is already on its way to becoming a collector’s item, with over 300 copies sold, so order your copy now from Ruben Ferrolino. He teaches at the Sibale Academy.

Now, for my own observations.

There were fears expressed as gossip before the homecoming that the event would be a political one, or would be politicized. Those who entertained this fantasy can now eat their words and swallow their saliva. Nothing of that sort happened. Try again, next time.

Then, there were those alumni who were there in Sibale but did not bother to show up at the homecoming for reasons known only to them. By being “killjoy”, you missed an important part of your life. Please attend next time.

And then, there were the hits and misses of the whole event. One of the hits was the parade. There were almost 600 alumni who joined and the happy colors of their T-shirt uniforms made Sibale’s 2009 summer a kaleidoscope ecstatic to behold.

Another hit was the rain—no, the downpour—that spoiled the cultural night on Sunday, abbreviating the dance party that the alumni had been looking forward to since news of the homecoming became a noisy breakfast table fare.

The rain was a hit because it doused the summer heat, and cleansed the whole Sibale Academy grounds and its environs of the dust and detritus of the dry season. It also quenched the thirst of the island for farm water, and therefore, was warmly welcomed at the expense of a gaily baylehan.

One of the most notable successes of the homecoming was the medical mission, the social service part of the event. So many came to be treated and examined, to be circumcised, to have a tooth extracted, and to receive free medicines that the homecoming organizers had to feed them merienda and lunch.

And speaking of food, nobody got hungry during the four-day affair. The tables at the Sibale Academy were roaring with food and drinks that we had to give away extra rice and meat after.

Another social service of the homecoming, which many perhaps did not notice because it was done low-key, was the Patabo. The alumni distributed rice, noodles, sardines and other food items to Sibale’s poor, many of whom expressed happiness and gratitude for the assistance.

The misses were few and should be overwhelmed by the overall success of the event, but they have to be mentioned so that lessons would be learned.

One was the diversion from the homecoming schedule. There was supposed to be a day, April 14, to be devoted to alumni classes, but instead of doing it on the fourth day, many alumni scheduled their picnics and class reunions on the third day, April 13, so there was no attendance to the Alumni Business Forum. There was also no news about the planned clean-up of the beaches.

And then there was the failure to follow the sports activities. There was a breakdown in the games that were supposed to be played because of lack of interest among the alumni. Only very few games were successfully held.

The other hitches were minor compared to the major accomplishments of the other activities, demonstrating once again that in big events such as this homecoming, organizers should plan very well in advance and anticipate unforeseen hitches.

Overall, I am happy that the 2009 Alumni Homecoming is over. I am glad, too, that despite a few setbacks, mostly in coordination, we were able to prove that if only really we set our sights on something and work for it, we could make things happen.

By the way, the homecoming theme, “Hulma ka Rana, Ragipon ka Saha!” was felt and realized by the Sibalenhons. For this alone, I say, “Mabuhi!”.

My thoughts on a summer, and why I didn’t write

I had not written anything for over a month, and I’m going mad.

The hot summer of 2009 was so cruel a season it didn’t give me a respite, mentally and physically, from the whirlwind of activities that landed on my plate that before I even knew it, the rains have come, rendering me exhausted and drained, but also hopeful.

Writers are humans, too, who need rest. I disappeared; did not answer phone calls; slept; and earned a little money. I am here now, ready to do battle, again, with words as my weapon and shield. There might be some who rejoiced over my absence—those who had been in my regular menu, the nincompoops, the ill-mannered, and the corrupt in government. They must have thought I was dead, so I can’t write about them anymore. Good riddance, they must have muttered.

Well, the bad and good news is that I am alive, still writing, and will write some more. So let’s begin.

Let’s begin with the 1622: Unang Usbor, Romblon’s first and only performing band. The group, whose repertoire is completely in Asi, performed SRO at the CAP auditorium in Lipa City in February and the Romblomanons who have watched and listened, including Rep. Budoy Madrona and Gov. Jojo Beltran, were mesmerized by the audacity and excellence of the Banton band’s members.

So awed were they that after the concert, Gov. Jojo Beltran asked me to bring the band to Odiongan. He was probably thinking I was the band’s manager. I told him it was expensive to mount such a concert, and asked him if he could help. Yes, he said.

A week after, I tried to call him about his desire to see the band perform for the Odionganons, but his phone was dead. I tried again after a time, but he “cannot be reached”. In short, he lied. He must probably be thinking I had forgotten what he said. So, the plan for an Odiongan concert of 1622: Unang Usbor was shelved. Lesson learned: Don’t trust Jojo Beltran in his word. He is a politician, but so unlike his father.

In late March, I left Manila for Sibale for the 6th RDL-CLEAR Writing Workshop on the Three Romblon Languages, which Kusog Sibalenhon and the Concepcion National High School jointly hosted. Twenty-five student writers from all over the province endured the rigors of a three-day workshop under the tutelage of Vim Nadera, Ryan Machado, Ish Fabicon and myself. I will write more about the writeshop later.

Also during the summer, I was occupied with the alumni homecoming activities of my former high school, the Sibale Academy, which this year is celebrating its 45th Foundation Anniversary. The homecoming was a huge success.

Then on April 14, I brought 1622: Unang Usbor to Sibale. It was historic. It was the first time that a live band performed before the Sibalenhons. The audience was ecstatic and stayed glued to their seats throughout the night. 1622: Unang Usbor sang a total of 40 songs in Sibale, five or six of which were my compositions. The band, I noticed, has vastly improved that I thought I need to work in the coming months to bring the band finally to Odiongan—without, of course, the politicians. Anyway, most of them are culture illiterates.

The Sibale concert of Unang Usbor, which I dubbed “Usang Pusa, Kanta ka Rana”, highlighted our tribal unity in the language that we speak, the Asi, which is ancient and rich.

I greatly appreciate Mayor Boyet Cipriano, Vice Mayor Pepe Ferriol, SB Members Rey Feudo, Diosing Atillano, Neil Falculan, Luz Fabunan, Jazz Familaran, and the other members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Sibale for raising money for the concert. I would also like to thank Oriental Mindoro provincial board member Cora Agarap, and his son, Sherwin, for letting me use their sound system for free. Of the private citizens who supported the concert, I must mention Engr. Flos Famarin, Merwin Mosquerra and Engr. Ramon Famarin, all fellow alumni, for their support. I reserve my thanks lastly to my Pare, Mike Faderogao who fed and sheltered the band members.

These are some of the reasons I was absent in this column for a while. I didn’t write, not because I didn’t want to, but because there simply was no means to deliver my pieces to the Romblon Sun from Sibale, where internet connectivity is still new. I didn’t want to blame the absence of modern information technology in my hometown for a blank space. If there were only pigeon carriers in the island, then I would have delivered my weekly columns through this tested mode.

But there are also benefits from not writing for a month. One was that it enabled me to reflect. Another was that it allowed me to bank stories which could be subject of future columns.

And it was also the height of summer, when the heat numbed the mind and rendered the body and your senses lazy, wanting only to stay still and savor the smell of the sun and sea, which is Sibale.

So, how did you spend your summer? Tell me.