Sunday, November 8, 2020

Why the Negros Season of Culture Website is one of the most fulfilling projects I have worked on


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.

Related Post :

Five Things You Should Know About The Negros Season of Culture

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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Lloyd Tronco

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Lloyd Tronco. Artist. Writer. Entrepreneur. Undiagnosed ADHD. INTJ.


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