After quite a time bantering with the Lingganay group, we moved on to stumble upon the famous “Lumad Basakanon”. Though they have not been grabbing topmost honors in the Sinulog lately, they’re still a ‘group to watch’ for most Cebuanos and visitors alike. They’re “just” the only hall-of-famer over at the Aliwan fiesta anyway, right? And they usually land a place in the Sinulog’s top 5 anyway, right? Plus their representative just won top prize a few days ago as the Sinulog 2012 Festival Queen. Well yes, they’re mostly remembered for having pioneered some interesting moves and formations both in the parade and at the stage presentation that other groups all over this country have copied.
We stayed with this group for a while to watch them perform and even as they rest, banter make some adjustments or roam around. Yes, I have observed in the past many years that this is the most “laagan” group! When they’re not dancing, you could see the members going everywhere – from the sari-sari stores to buy drinks or food or even safety pins, to just about everywhere as far as two performing groups away from theirs. I think its because they’re mostly adults that they don’t have the luxury of being pampered by parents, relatives or teachers like it is with other groups. They’re mostly on their own.
I was looking for at least two faces… Voila! I found them!
First was this lovely petite lady! She even already recognizes me by face since I have seen this group many times over at various performances through the years. Not only in this Sinulog Festival, by the way, but even as far as the Aliwan Fiesta, Tokyo and Germany! And you cannot miss her since she’s usually the girl that carries the Sto Nino. She’s not just another dancer now, she has grown to be a fine young woman and is now a teacher at one of Cebu’s top universities. But when Sinulog comes, she says she must dance for the group and will do so as long as she still can, as part of her devotion to the Sto. Nino who has helped her many times in her life. She tells me it is a “panata”.
The other face I was looking for? The cute little boy that had always been dancing with the cute lady (above). And I almost did not find this boy. Why? Because he is “little” no more! Can’t call him “hello handsome” anymore for that would have sounded malicious hehe. He is a young man now and I caught him talking to his mom. Yes, the mother still goes around with this group though his son is already taller than her. I took that picture of them together while the father was behind me talking to some other inquisitive onlookers like us hehe! Without the headgear, the boy is now about the height of my mouth, so he would probably be 5’5” tall. The mom says he started dancing with this group at age 6 as her “panata” to the Sto. Nino, and that if the son would not disagree, she wants him to dance forever. What did the handsome dude say? “Of course, kay para ni Sto. Nino man ni”!
Hey, about that hair, I learned from the group that it is not real, though it really looks like true hair. One of them told me they bought it from Manila and it is some kind of a synthetic fabric mostly used as, well, human hair! My companion who was seeing them perform up close for the first time said they were great. I said, I’ll bet they won’t win first prize again. It is probably due to what I call “raising the bar stigma”. If in the past you surprised everyone with a grand performance like no other, they’ll all be expecting you to do something else even more fantastic. They’re still good and they’re the best, I say. But they have not gotten back to grabbing first prize lately.
Okay, I caught up with this year’s Sinulog Festival Queen. Yep, crowned just a few nights ago, she is the festival queen of Lumad Basakanon. And this is why I said earlier that the judges chose the other kind from the tisay of Dumaguete that is/was the favorite of the press photographers. The chance meeting was even accidental. I was drinking coke at some sari-sari store while all the contingents seemed to have gone to rest. It was nearly 1030AM, there had been a lot of dancing, but the groups were still quite where they started since 9AM. Saw this fully made up gay who on peripheral vision I though was a real girl. He was at the store buying something like pins and other things together with some energy drinks. I told him I thought he was a she until I heard him speak. He/She smiled to thank me and told me he is make-up artist and sister of the festival queen. Take note he said he is the “sister” hehe, and he invited me to go with him and take a few shots of the festival queen! We had some banter until it was time for Basakanon to dance once again.
Oh, Bong Revilla passed by and caused some giggly cheers from the Abellana troop!
Abellana? Yep, following Basakanon was the group of Abellana National School, a constant winner in the kabataan version and usually landing a top rank on the grand day, like today. See the guy in white barong? He’s an Abellana dancer… namamasyal! But let’s talk more about them in the next story!