Monday, June 12, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

Unlike most of you who enjoyed the long weekend, I had to attend some official activites connected to the occassion. Not that I'm complaining because I like attending these activities which commemorate the declaration of Philippine independence. For the eve of Independence Day, I was invited by the Secretary of Tourism to watch Hinabing Gunita, the Independence Day presentation at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The CCP Main Theater is indeed a sight to behold especially in the evenings with the fountains turned on. A creation of National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin, the CCP Complex was the envy of our neighbors when in was newly-constructed. They don't make government buildings like those in the Philippines nowadays, grandiose, elegant and tastefully done. Today, the DPWH and other government agencies charged with construction churn out the ugliest buildings in the world! Four walls and a roof and the rest goes to someone's pockets! Sigh! When will this country start thinking big again?

The invitation called for formal Filipiniana attire. Which is why I was so disappointed when I saw a large number of the audience came in semi-formal attire fit for an ordinary day in the office, many even in crew neck t-shirts and maong. Earth to whoever you guys are, you are attending an Independence Day program! Isn't it obvious that the occasion calls for all of us to don our native costumes and be proud of wearing Filipino formal wear just this once?! And we were in the Cultural Center of the Philippines for crying out loud! Plus there were members of the Diplomatic Corps and other important people in attendance. Moreover, it was a gala performance and yet there was a sizeable number of people in clothes fit for the shopping mall or a movie house. Duh!

My companion for the evening was our president at the HCS, Gemma Cruz-Araneta. The performances were excellent! But as Gemma noted, the script lacked something, the very essence of the celebrations. That's why in her Manila Bulletin column, Gemma questions this missing element in her piece entitled Woven Amnesia, a play of the English translation of the title Woven Memories since the scriptwriter forgot to present the declaration of independence, the First Philippine Republic and the events of 1898 in the fabric of history symbolically featured.

Today was spent in San Fernando to attend the local Independence Day celebrations. I had wanted to attend the reenactment of the 1899 Independence Day celebrations, the first and last Independence Day under the first republic which was held in front of the Pamintuan House in Angeles. But the 7 a.m, calltime was just too early for me and I was still exhausted. Anyway, in San Fernando, our guest of honor and speaker was none other than Gemma who as expected arrived in an exquisite maria clara. Filipinos should really learn to dress for the occasion no matter if the sun is scorching hot.

A large parade was arranged by the DepEd with students from each of the 35 barangays of San Fernando presenting tableaus of various historical national and local events on floats. Although I noticed there was a lack of marching bands since the parade was so long and in between bands, there was no music so it looked like a processesion. Hehe! At the Bren Guiao Convention Center, there were thousands of students assembled for the celebrations, watching the parade as it entered the grandstand.

The loudest cheers were however given to the vehicle carrying Mikee Lee, first runner-up of the Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition, who is from San Fernando. Imagine, it was only then that I found out that Mikee was a Cabral from Sta. Lucia, his uncle a former city councilor of San Fernando. His kuya, Peter, was a batchmate at the Ateneo High School and I was telling him that if they highlighted his being a native of San Fernando, the Kapampangans would have given him a solid vote. Hehe! From the cheers, screams, shouts and shrieks of the high school students in the jampacked convention center, I realized the power of television and how one show can change your life overnight. As Peter told me, Mikee was still learning the ropes of stardom and was not used to the adoration. I'm sure!

After the program, we had lunch at the new city hall site. The aircon was a welcome respite to the scorching heat outside. For the afternoon, Gemma and I went to nearby Guagua and Lubao to check out the municipios for possible inclusion in the calendar.

Along the way, we passed by several heritage buildings including the Lopez House in Guagua which were very well-maintained. Gemma was not that satisfied with both municipios. Although they were quite intact, they looked ordinary architecturally speaking.

In Lubao, we passed by the oldest town church in the province. The retablo was impressive! But sad to say, some priest white-washed the trompe l'oeil murals that once adorned the ceiling. We had wanted to meet with Mayor Dennis Pineda to try to convince him to restore the said murals but he was still incomunicado since the bomb explosion in front of his home. Oh well! Maybe next time when things are a little better. The restoration of those murals would be a very worthwhile project.
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