By By Pablo A. Tariman
THE ARTS IN THE ISLAND AND THE MAY 13 ELECTIONS
posted 6-May-2019  ·  
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The dramatic culminating night of Tuntun Balagon festi-val in Virac. New era for the arts in the island? (Photo: From the FB post of Joey Gianan Vargas)

Having staged several concerts which took place in time when election jingles lorded it over the island streets in the last three years, one was witness to the usual cycle of election ritual.

To one’s relief, the private armies are gone (at least I didn’t see one during my recent visits).

But recently, PNP checkpoints intercepted a group carrying firearms with the driver’s car traced to a congressional candidate.

Add to that the increasing cases of trampled election posters and the use of inappropriate language in the election rallies.

These people and their masters should be given lessons by local authorities and ultimately, by the island electorate. If they think they can still stage true-to-life FPJ action movies during the coming elections, they had better think again. They are just giving the island voters a clue on whom not to vote in the coming elections.

In the past, the now greying White House was the symbol of power, the Johnson store near the old provincial capitol was where public-school teachers deposited their paychecks to cover their monthly supplies of prime commodities.

Now there is a shopping mall, cafes with wi-fi services, two popular fast food chain and a branded drug store totally erasing the memories of Farmacia Guerrero, the first pharmacy in the island.

To be sure, rock concerts remain a favorite attraction but classical music waged a good fight. The classical guitar staged a triumphant comeback with three recitals, the island heard a damn good clarinetist and a damn good tenor after 22 years and was given rousing standing ovations in their last two island performances.  On top of that, the island finally heard Chopin and Schumann played well in a brand-new baby grand piano courtesy of the Catanduanes Doctors Hospital.

By and large, the visiting classical musicians have become virtual endorsers of tourist spots in social media next to the island’s share of TV exposures.

Their concerts attract class A audiences and it is possible that if concerts like this get regular support, the island will lure the same kind of tourists, not the kind that will frequent the beer joints in barangay San Vicente.

Recalling the pre-election rituals and the reactions to the live classical music, you get to know the islanders for what they are.

Whether we like it or not, politics brings out the unpredictable in all of us.

It is a source of comfort that some candidates are likely to support the arts in the island.

Jorge V. Sarmiento is always to the rescue of marginalized concert organizers and his presence in the concerts is a source of consolation.

The last concert last year with a brand-new baby grand piano courtesy of the Catanduanes Doctors Hospital was made possible by air tickets for visiting artists given by Cong. Cesar V. Sarmiento.

The concert featuring pianist Mary Anne Espina and classical guitarist Sting Asistores was plagued by three brownouts. In his last get-together with the people of Ilawod, Cong. Sarmiento said he would be in a better position to address the power problems in the island in the new position he is seeking. With his track record which speaks volumes, hope springs eternal so to speak. Islanders may yet end their power woes through the ballots.

Another source of consolation is that more cultural workers are showing up to harness what’s left of the artistically inclined islanders.

I have high hopes for the Catanduanes Culture and Arts Council organized by Joey Gianan Vargas, a former member of the Philippine Madrigal Singers. Hopefully, more islanders take to the arts and get due recognition from it.

To be realistic about it, the performing arts are more for the heart and mind but their sustained presence and the fairly good support given them is an indication that civilization is alive and well in the island.

Watching the new music fans and the standing ovation accorded the visiting artists and reading about the culminating activities of the newly organized Catanduanes Culture and Arts Council, let me reiterate what one wrote earlier.

That the arts bring out what is noble, pure and impeccable about the islanders.


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