National Heritage Month is when we look back to what our ancestors have bequeathed to us, the children of the nation. It is important that we, the youth of today, be able to partake in this diverse and unique culture that has been evolving over the ages. Theatrical plays like this, help us connect with our past, the Filipinos who have sacrificed all their blood, sweat, and tears to shape a unique identity that we are proud to share with the rest of the world. It is also important for our children to inherit it. As our national hero once said, "He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination."
by Enrico P. Estrella III & Michael Adrian Flores
May 30, 2023. Salinlahi: Filipino Culture Throughout the Ages which exalts the Philippines' rich cultural heritage was held to celebrate National Heritage Month, serving as a reminder of the importance of preserving and honoring our history, traditions, and values.
The program consisted of a range of performances- music, dance, digital art, literature, and drama- that showcased the talents of students taking up Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Section 1-2) from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines San Juan Branch. The performers presented various facets of Filipino culture from pre-colonial times to the present introduced using a play and captivating storytelling.
The program began with a lively introduction from the masters of ceremony Alea Kyla Consuelo and Jazzmin Cody Dizon, followed by the singing of the Philippine National Anthem and the PUP hymn. Davd Tungol led the opening invocation with an interreligious prayer. And to spark an interest on the importance of National Heritage Month, Jervin Aniban, the assistant director of the play, stated: "Heritage is the soul of the nation. It embodies the traditions, values, and customs that have been passed down through generations, shaping our identity and providing a sense of belonging."
Plot and Main Characters
The story revolved around four main characters:
> Lolo David (played by David Tungol)
> Andy "Andeng" Bautista (played by Sophia Lugay)
> Maria Bautista (played by Ronah Mae Leal), and,
> Sylvia Bautista (played by Marian Christina Sanchez)
Andeng and Maria are both Generation Z college students with a project on Philippine Popular Culture to research the pre-colonial, Spanish, and contemporary eras of the Philippines. Andeng grew up in a Western cultural environment. She disliked studying Philippine history because of her American lifestyle. Maria is from a wealthy family and unlike Andeng, is interested in learning about our country's history. They are helped by Lolo David, a former history professor, and Sylvia, his granddaughter. Together, they unraveled the richness of the culture and traditions that surround us.
The Pre-colonial Period
To start off the pre-colonial period is the introduction to Baybayin, the pre-colonial writing system initially made by ancient Filipinos. It also showcased the legend of Mount Makiling located in the Laguna province. The legend centers around Maria Makiling who is a fairy and ethereal goddess with unparalleled beauty, believed to be the profile of a woman lying down which appears to be the shape of the mountain. She had the power of elements to protect the mountain and its environment. This period is capped off by an ethnic and folk dance that is associated with the legend of Mount Makiling.
The Spanish Period
The Spanish period featured the Sarswela, a theater play that came from the Spaniards. It combines dialogue and singing in one play. The Sarswela featured was "Dalagang Bukid" by Hermogenes Ilagan and Leon Ignacio. The story follows a country girl, Angelita, and her love for Cipriano. The scene portrayed an anxious Angelita and her friend Kobang talking about Cipriano's condition and the circumstances of their love life through song and monologue by Angelita and Kobang respectively.
The Contemporary Period
This part featured different artists, actresses, singers, and dancers that have influenced and been part of Philippine popular culture. The Contemporary period saw the rise of many celebrities over the years who have impacted our current pop culture, celebrity divas like Nora Aunor and Jolina Magdangal. They showed the iconic and timeless movie lines, songs and dance sensations that were popular during their time and up to today.
In addition to Nora Aunor and Jolina Magdangal, the program also showcased the massive cultural impact of the Philippines' very own girl group from the '90s, the SexBomb Girls with a dance performance of the classic "Spaghetti Song".
Another classic from the '90s was the song "Ang Huling El Bimbo" by the rock band Eraserheads. It showed that both the song and dance filled the room with a certain nostalgia and fun that resonates with the hearts of the Filipinos.
The event was capped off with spoken word poetry by Enrico Estrella III which conveys the importance of our cultural heritage as Filipinos. Looking back on what our ancestors have given to us, both the good and the bad, it is part of our shared identity as Filipino people.
The program ended with all the cast members dancing with joy to the song Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko by VST & Company. From the main cast actors to the Precolonial Dancers, to the Duo of Sarswela Performers and the Collective of the Contemporary Period, all came together in harmony and joy as one people with a rich and diverse heritage of our Filipino Identity.
Rosemarie Laxamana, the director of the program, rendered her closing remarks. She said, "Let us remember that our heritage is not confined to museums or historical sites alone. It is alive within us, woven into the very fabric of our daily lives. It is in the stories we tell, the languages we speak, the food we savor, and the traditions we pass on." This was followed by the final invocation led by Johaynnah Macairing with a prayer to Allah.
Finally, Dr. Genevieve B. Kupang greeted everyone for holding a meaningful celebration of National Heritage Month (Buwan ng Mga Pamana) and gave her words of gratitude and admiration to the entire BS-Psychology 1-2. She likewise thanked the PUP San Juan Campus Director Prof. Edgardo Delmo, Academic Program Head Assoc. Prof. Alfred Pagalilawan, and Head of the Office of Students Affairs and Services Mr. Peter Glenn Biason for the approval and support to organize this event.
See highlights of the event thanks to photographers Luis Jayven Dela Paz, Macy Joye Flores, & Ivy Abogado...
About the Writers:
Enrico P. Estrella III is a freshman Psychology Major student of PUPSJ. He is a former feature writer for The Bellows Publication of Aquinas School in 2019 who openly expresses his enthusiasm for learning more about his major course and is willing to improve his writing skills in the future.
Michael Adrian Flores is a freshman student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines San Juan Branch taking up a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. He has a background in news writing and in creating scripts for webinars. He is committed to using writing as a form of expressing ideas and reflecting creativity.
Photo credits: Luis Jayven Dela Paz, Macy Joye Flores, Ivy Abogado