Sunday, November 8, 2020

 


As 2020 came in, most of us had great plans of what to do over the next 12 months, each of us setting great and audacious goals.  The number 2020 had a great sound to it connoting clarity of vision and purpose, thus all the excitement for everyone to accomplish something big and meaningful from a personal perspective.

Then the pandemic hit. All the world retreated into quarantine with borders closing and on-ground events, as well as international travel being placed on hold.  I was looking forward to some milestone events including a trip to Japan with my family early this year and another trip to Negros via boat on the eve of the 40th Anniversary of the sinking of the ill-fated Don Juan vessel, which was a pivotal moment in the history of Bacolod and Negros Island.

The plague and the subsequent series of quarantines in varying levels just threw chaos into whatever plans we had for ourselves.  Looking back, no matter how bad it was, there were moments of Divine Providence which would straighten out our situations.

Then in June of this year, I got a call from my good friend, Alan Gensoli, to explore some work on a project called the Negros Season of Culture.  Alan is of a kindred spirit in the sense that we are both marketing communication professionals.  There was a time about 25 years ago when Bacolod did not really know the role of an advertising agency and both of us were blazing trails by teaching the market how things should be done.  We were running our own ad agencies in that limited market of Sugarlandia.  Alan brought to Bacolod his experience from many years in New York, and I from London.

With Zoom being the preferred method of communication these days, Alan gave me the brief on the Negros Season of Culture.  We were joined in by another seasoned professional, Producer Mayee Fabregas.   The Negros Season of Culture project is an effort by the Angelica Berrie Foundation and its thrust is to promote the cultural assets of our Negrense heritage and traditions, showcasing the unique identity of the province of Negros Occidental and the talent of its people, the Negrenses.

The task was to create an online destination where all these cultural assets of Negros may be seen.  But more than just creating an online destination, it had to be a celebration - yes, a celebration of the Negrense artistry, heritage, values and culture which has propelled so many sons and daughters of Negros onto the world stage.  All this is encapsulated in the tagline of the Negros Season of Culture, "Rooted. Taking on the World." The online platform would herald the uniqueness of Negros culture by threading stories of creativity in a platform that dramatizes a regional narrative, local, national and global audiences can discover what makes Negros special.

I was "all in" on this one.  For those of you who know me, this project is really down my alley.  As an artist/writer/creative/Negrense, this is one task which I know I have the credentials, experience, and above all, THE PASSION to work on.

I'd have to say, I consider this among the most meaningful projects I've been a part of in my life, at par with all other campaigns I was part of during my years at McCann-Erickson.  This project goes beyond just making people aware of a product and letting them buy it.  This project has to do with me - the Negrense.  This project has to do with my children - for them to understand how beautiful and how blessed they are to have a heritage wherein rural simplicity meets a unique blend of sophistication melded from both Eastern and Western hemispheres.  That is the beauty of Negrense culture.

I say that this is really down my alley for two reasons.  First, it jives with all the writing and documentation that I've done.  It brings me back to the years in the late 1990s when I had my own column in the Visayan Daily Star aptly titled as "Artspeak", a column on art and culture.  It also complements all the writing I still continue to do on my blog, El Talonggo, which is my chronicle for the Tagalog-Ilonggo-Negrense subculture.

Secondly, the Negros Season of Culture jives with my belief that one has to understand his or her beginnings or origin of place in order to discover their inner workings and their world view.  A best example of this statement is my article on "Demistifying Negrense Decadence".  There still remains a multitude of things for us to discover an unravel about ourselves - the Negros Season of Culture as an online destination helps us unravel that.


The Negros Season of Culture is a whole program and slew of events, both online and on-ground which will highlight the many aspects of Negrense culture.  All activities and stories found on the website or on the ground will weave stories of creativity that dramatizes a regional narrative which local, national and global audiences can discover.


That being said, isn't this is the main reason we have physical museums? That we may not just discover objects presented on a pedestal, but discover the stories of the people behind the objects.  With this, I recall the days when I was working on a section of the Negros Museum, entitled "Sugar and Other Negros Tales".  This section of the Negros Museum, then located at what is now the Provincial Capitol, had to do with the beginnings of the planting of sugar in Negros influence of British Vice-Consul Nicholas Loney in the trade of sugar, all the way to the years of plenty when Negros had to fill US quotas for sugar.


Working on the Negros Season of Culture website was just like building a section of the museum all over again.  Only this time, in the age of technology, fiber optics, 5G technology and the pandemic, the construction is digital.


The Negros Season of Culture online platform focuses on six main "Stories" of creativity.  These are Negrense Food, Cultural Experience, Art, Handicrafts, Heritage, and People.

Last November 5, 2020, as the province of Negros Occidental celebrated its public holiday known as Cinco de Noviembre, to commemorate the Negrenses' revolt against the Spanish colonizers on that same date in 1898 when the uprising led to the surrender of the Spanish troops, a new revolution took place in a different realm.

The new revolution is a revolution of heritage, culture, and art wherein the cultural riches of the island of Negros are showcased through the online platform, and eventually be supported by on-ground events as soon as the plague is gone.

Multi-awarded Negrense actor, Joel Torre, hosted the launch with his daughter, Marela, who also toured the audiences through the site.  We also heard from Angelica Berrie herself, and Baba Torre, the President of the Angelica Berrie Foundation.  We saw how emotions welled up within Joel Torre as he paid tribute to his teacher, mentor, guru, friend, and sometimes, his father, the late Peque Gallaga. 

The first year of the Negros Season of Culture is dedicated to the memory of Peque Gallaga, who in the words of Angelica Berrie, “inspired many of us to be something bigger than ourselves, teaching us to express our creativity in big, bold ways that contribute to the story of this place (Negros) which we call home,”.  Honor where honor is due.

With that cue, I thank you, Alan Gensoli, for allowing me to be part of this revolution, along with Mayee Fabregas and Stephanie Hilado-Lindaya. Salamat gid.

Thank you, Angelica Berrie and Baba Torre, for spearheading the aggregation of Negros' cultural and heritage assets and heralding it to the world.

The new Negros revolution has just begun.



-----
To my wife Regina, my daughter Bea and son Joaquin,
and to the generations to follow,
this effort is for you.



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As the province of Negros Occidental celebrated its public holiday known as Cinco de Noviembre, on Thursday, November 5, 2020 to commemorate the Negrenses' revolt against the Spanish colonizers on that same date in 1898 when the uprising led to the surrender of the Spanish troops, a new revolution took place in a different realm.......Read More


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Tuesday, November 3, 2020




 



Neatly tucked in the center of the Philippine archipelago is a sock shaped island known as Negros.  Negros, known for its vast sugarcane plantations set before scenic mountains as its backdrop is also known as the Sugar Bowl of the Philippines.

I personally call it, The SWEET SPOT of the Philippines.  The term SWEET SPOT has so many connotations to it given the different facets of sweetness this island brings to me.  There are so many sweet stories of Negros to tell - there just hasn't been THE perfect medium to tell it through.

That was then.  This Thursday though, everything is bound to change.  The Angelica Berrie Foundation will be launching a website that hopes to become a global messaging platform to promote Negrense heritage and culture.

The launch aptly falls on November 5, 2020 at 8pm Philippine Standard Time and 7am for those in New York ( and 12 noon for those in London).  November 5 is the day the province of Negros Occidental celebrates its annual Cinco de Noviembre feast to commemorate the day Negrenses revolted against Spanish colonizers and won in 1898.

The November 5 revolt in Negros led by Generals Juan Araneta and Aniceto Lacson.

In the same manner, the launch of the Negros Season of Culture website is a revolution of its own.  The Negros Season of Culture was meant to be an extended slew of on-ground events which would highlight the art, food, heritage homes, people, and handicrafts of Negros.

The pandemic changed all of that as everyone around the world got locked-in by way of quarantine.

The silver lining is found in the fact that as everyone spend more time on the internet, the Negros Season of Culture becomes a window for all the world to discover the beauty and uniqueness of Negrense culture through this online channel.

Its underlying purpose : "to promote the cultural assets of our heritage and traditions, the unique identity of this province and the talent of its people," according to Angelica "Angie" Berrie through a Zoom meeting which took place two weeks ago.

Suffice it to say that the Negros Season of Culture is not just an online platform but an online celebration of Negrense uniqueness neatly stated in the tagline, "Rooted. Taking on the World." 

The Gaston Mansion at Hacienda Sta. Rosalia in Manapla


By threading stories of creativity (for which Negrenses are known for) in a platform that dramatizes a regional narrative, global audiences can discover what makes Negros special.

Personally, what I am excited about is being able to showcase the heritage homes of Negros.  While so much has been said about Negros' food, art, handicrafts, and agriculture, the heritage homes are for me, an item where attention must be drawn to. 

The Ruins - remains of the ancestral home mansion of the family of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and Maria Braga Lacson.


Every other island or province has  their own culinary story, their own art and handicrafts.  But all of these take on a different dimension as the stories are framed within a physical place where the stories are anchored to.  Such is the case with the ancestral homes on Negros Island.  The stories are amplified and emotions are heightened as they are set within an actual place that people can see.

All these stories will be aggregated into that website which will be launched this Thursday with famous Negrense actor, Joel Torre and his daughter Marela.

The Negros Season of Culture, this is Negros Island's Window for the World.

Join the Negros Season of Culture launch this Thursday by tuning in and following the Negros Season of Culture Facebook Page.






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  Neatly tucked in the center of the Philippine archipelago is a sock shaped island known as Negros.  Negros, known for its vast sugarcane p...

Monday, August 31, 2020



Today, August 31, 2020, is the day some of my dearest friends from my old place of employment (McCann-Erickson Philippines), will feel the weight of the loss of the network franchise of ABS-CBN.

Sometime between 2005 and 2010, a lot of these friends found a new zest for life in their advertising and communications careers, moving from McCann to ABS-CBN.  There, they shined brightly in their respective duties.  Their diverse talents allowed them to make ABS-CBN spring forth in wonderful and innovative ways.  Blazing trails, creating new departments, innovating business were the order of the day.

As we all know, ABS-CBN lost its bid to have their franchise renewed on July 10, 2020.  As a result, here we are today, seeing the last day of my ex-colleagues with ABS-CBN.

Hold your heads up high.  With "TRUTH WELL TOLD" on your left hand and "IN SERVICE OF THE FILIPINO" on the right, today is really a day for heroes.

I cover you with my personal prayers, but above all, at this time, I send you this prayer.  It comes from St. Augustine.  I hope you will find comfort in it.

God of our life,
There are days when the burdens we carry
Chafe our shoulders and weigh us down;
When the road seems dreary and endless,
The skies grey and threatening;
When our lives have no music in them,
And our hearts are lonely,
And our souls have lost their courage.
Flood the path with light,
Run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise;
Tune our hearts to brave music;
Give us the sense of comradeship
With heroes and saints of every age;
And so quicken our spirits
That we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us
On the road of life, to your honor and glory.




Godspeed, my dear friends!

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Thursday, April 30, 2020

I just remembered that there are two words for time in Greek. Chronos, from where we get the word chronometer, refers to the measurement of time; seconds, minutes, hours, years. 

Then there is Kairos - the opportune time. That singular moment when everything is in place and everything is ripe for the picking. The appointed time in the purpose of God. Our best response is to move in that window of time as guided by the Holy Spirit and not under compulsion.



I pray that despite the chaos that COVID brings, we will find some Kairos within ourselves. It's not even Carpe Diem, or seize the day. It's more like "the decisive moment" in photography.





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Negros Island.  The SWEET Spot of the Philippines.

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I just remembered that there are two words for time in Greek. Chronos, from where we get the word chronometer, refers to the measurement of ...

 

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