Feature: Bohol as ASEAN cultural capital for July
Tagbilaran City (6 August) -- The magically-lit Abatan river and the equally spectacular performance by the Teatro Abatan conspired to assert Bohol's hold as Asia's Cultural Capital in July.
At a place where time flows with the ebb of tides, Abatan was all the while, different last July 22.
There, time paused from its flow and momentarily sat along the banks of the river; a spectator of the rare meeting of the classical East and the ethnic and indigenous Bohol cultures which later exploded in a myriad of colors in the light of the celebration.
July 22 this is year is 156th Bohol Day, an event marked by the official declaration of the island province as independent from Cebu.
That day also brings the Asian spotlight to the province as Asia's Cultural Capital for the month.
Brandishing nothing but a track record as one of the country's most successful engagements of culture as tool for community mobilization against poverty, Bohol's cultural renaissance program has earned international admiration.
No less than NCCA Executive Director Cecille Guidote-Alvarez who used to described culture as "an engine for economic growth, a building block of social creation, an asset of national pride and a force for education and social transformation, as well as an effective tool for cultural diplomacy" heaped praises for Bohol that day.
The declaration of Asian Cultural Capital in July for Bohol allows the people to build audiences and unleash the creative power of people by art and persuasion and not by force.
The over-all goal is to be one with the Asean region in overcoming the war against poverty and environmental degradation to assure the survival and dignified life on earth of our children and coming generations," Alvarez was quoted.
In the light of helping attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to eradicate poverty by 2015, Bohol, along with its partnerships with NCCA and UNESCO, would make art and culture performances affordable and accessible by all, explains Gardy Labad, Bohol based artistic consultant to the newly organized Teatro Abatan.
Under the program, communities are given free training in the visual arts, dance, drama, poetry, comics, media arts to discover their abilities, Labad said.
And like big events in Bohol, tradition dictates that milestone go with a hearty banquet of religious, political, artistic and cultural servings for everyone to feast on.
The day started with a celebration of a holy mass at the historic St. Joseph Cathedral. A wreath laying ceremony at Carlos P. Garcia Monument followed at Plaza Rizal.
Then the attention shuffled off to the nearby Escuela de Ninas, now the National Museum Bohol branch for the opening of exhibits.
Moments later, at the beat of the drums, higantes (giants) led by effigies of Boholano heroes Sikatuna, Tamblot, Dagohoy, Capt. Francisco Salazar and Carlos P. Garcia (giants) walked 15-feet high to banner Bohol's claim to cultural greatness on their way to the Cultural Center.
Following the local higantes were giant puppets representing the Asean member nations and their representatives on a flag parade. Even with the loose traffic on a holiday, the larger than life higantes in their national costumes share the streets with bright tricycles in asserting its claim on local traditions.
The parade sauntered off to the refurbished Bohol Cultural Center where the biggest event in the morning unfolded.
UNESCO ASEAN Head Dr. Hubert Guizen together with NCCA Chairperson Vilma Labrador and UNESCO Commissioner Cecile Guidote Alvarez declared Bohol as the July site of the Philippines as ASEAN cultural capital.
The Provincial Government of Bohol led by Governor Edgar Chatto accepted the honor and welcomed the UNESCO guests by presenting to them the symbolic key to the province. DOT Secretary Lim praised Bohol's emergence as a major ecological and cultural destination of the nation.
Later that night, Bohol's claim to be the month's Asian Cultural Capital was pushed to the limits. (racPIA-Bohol) [top]