Libre: A ‘musicaletta’

By Mel Libre

Saturday, January 21, 2012

IT IS amazing how technology allows us to experience the Sinulog in Cebu though we are thousands of miles away. Viewing the quality of the entries of the Sinulog Grand Parade this year, one can conclude that not only has the Sinulog Foundation done an excellent job, the participants have raised the standard of the performances to a level that could be the envy of other festivals not just in the Philippines but globally.

Our unique dance tribute to the Sr. Sto Niño must really be among the most attractive, as we have proven during the First Auckland International Carnival where our group, the Katilingbang Bisaya sa New Zealand (KBNZ), bested twenty other contingents representing other cultures, including Brazil-inspired samba groups.

So this year, KBNZ decided to make an offering to the Sto. Niño after receiving an invitation from the NZ-Filipino Sto. Niño Devotees Trust, a group that has organized both liturgical and cultural activities every 3rd Sunday of January for the past 18 years. How can one top a previous presentation that had all the best elements of a winner? That same question must have been asked by multi-winner Tangub City-Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe.

On our part, we came up with the concept of the first Sinulog, when Magellan gifted Hara Amihan (Queen Juana) with the image of the Sto. Niño. Inspired by musicals like Miss Saigon, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats, I wrote five short songs instead of narrating the scenes prior to the main dance. The musicaletta (for lack of a word in the dictionary) was then given interpretative movements.

The “Unang Sinulog” musicaletta, interpreted by about 40 actors and dancers, received a warm reception from the more than 5,000 people congregating in the North Shore Event Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. It was a personally gratifying experience, as I took the role of Rajah Humabon, while my daughter Jam (choreographer) played Hara Amihan/Queen Juana. My 4-year old grandson Jeydi acted as the sickly prince who was eventually healed by the Sto. Niño. He charmed everyone with his professional demeanor.

When we completed our number, we gathered at the back stage. Our coordinator, Ching Mandawe, was thankful to everyone for giving their best to please the crowd, and to honor the Holy Child Jesus. Later I told our president, Rosendo Menchavez, of a wild idea: “What if we’d all go home to Cebu next year and present our musicaletta to our fellow Cebuanos and tourists?”

He responded, “Why not? We can always dream.” I say, who knows the Sto. Niño will grant our wish, as He usually does. Pit Señor!

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 21, 2012.