Text and photos by Dexter R. Matilla
For the Philippine Daily Inquirer
BY THE sheer number of locals and visitors who flocked to the People’s Park in Davao, it is safe to say the Philippine International Arts Festival succeeded in ensuring that the city’s distinctive culture remains alive and appreciated.
With life-size sculptures of Davao’s Kublai Millan scattered all over the park, acting as both inspiration for and guardians of the arts, the musicians, dancers and singers pulled out all the stops in entertaining the crowd.
Performers included Samadhi (Samahan ng Mga Musikero sa Davao Inc.), Mindanao Peace and Progress through Music. The musical collective takes its name from the Sanskrit word samadhi meaning “nirvana” or “trance” or “oneness with God” which its members say is befitting their creative performance.
The group believes music is effective to showcase the region’s cultural and musical heritage and endeavors, to encourage Davao musicians to proudly play in the world of live music entertainment.
The Kalumon Performing Ensemble Inc. draws from its rich cultural heritage of the Lumads, Moro and Christian settlers. Kalumon—which means “family” or “clan”—consists of students, out-of-school-youth, independent artists, and young professionals who excel in music, dance, film, theater, photography and the visual arts.
Another group that begins training its youth in the arts is Magallanes Elementary School Dance Troupe, which has received the highest honors and awards in several folkdance and rondalla competitions in Mindanao. First organized in 1986, the troupe is the Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan champion in 1998 and was given the Hall of Fame Award in 2004 Sayaw Mindanao.
Rounding up the group of performers is the LCB Performing Arts Foundation. Founded in 1998 by Lu Chin Bon with artistic director Bing Locsin, the group has produced over 30 productions of mainly Broadway musicals.
Some of LCB’s well-received productions are “The Great White Way,” “Rico ang Batang Kalye,” “HS Musical” and “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” They have been successful in the national level with productions like “Noli Me Tangere and Pagpupugay kay Bienvenido Lumbera: A Tribute to our National Artist.”
PIAF 2011 festival director Ricardo de Ungria described the celebration as “a call to hope, a challenge to act, an invitation to commit, a celebration of creativity, and an affirmation of the Filipino’s inner strength to be a catalyst of social transformation.”