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Buglasan Festival of Festivals, Negros Oriental’s prime fiesta of culture, arts, history and tradition, mark its 36th year since its inception. Though the manner of celebration has gone a long way through the decades, there is one humbling fact that remains about Buglasan – that it began inside Foundation University campus in May of 1981.

From a group of cultural movers including the then Foundation University Cultural Office Bobby Villasis, the festival came into being as the need arose for each province in the country to bring a group to Manila in order to showcase the bounty and uniqueness of Negros Oriental conveyed through dance, song and a stirring cultural presentation.

Those prime culture movers back then can still picture out how Foundation University campus was converted into a venue for cultural and tourism exposition as the 21 towns and cities of Negros Oriental vibrantly participated in that first-ever Buglasan Festival of Festivals.

TWO LETTERS

Parts of the festival’s history are two significant letters sent and received which paved the way for its inception.

Two years before Buglasan’s birth cry was heard, there was that letter sent by Cultural Officer Villasis to Loury U. Lacson, daughter of national artist for Dance Lucresia Reyes-Urtula, to direct and choreograph the reorganized Buglasayaw Dance Troupe of the University.

This was the time when the then Foundation University President Atty. Marcelino C. Maxino approved the proposal of reorganizing the dance troupe in honor of the nationalistic University founder and President Emeritus Dr. Vicente G. Sinco.

Surprisingly, Lacson showed up in the University campus in 1979 and began the renaissance journey of Foundation University’s cultural life and later on unexpectedly, for the Province of Negros Oriental.

By 1981, as the waves of culture went smooth inside the University, Lacson received an invitation for the Province of Negros Oriental from the Folk Arts Theater Festival in Manila.

This was the birthing call for Negros Oriental to create its own festival and the core group of organizers finally named it as “Buglasan” coined from “Buglas” or the present day “Bugang” a three-feet high weed that thrived the island since its early days.

Towns and cities were called to participate in the three-day culture and arts fair through the help of Balikatan, a women’s group led by Coleta Aranas. And the rest was history.

(The Kinaiyahan Dancers from Dauin complete their winning performance at the Buglasan Festival in October of 2006. Grand Prize, Buglasan Festival Photo Contest. Photo by Hersley-Ven Casero)

 

DANCE AND RITUAL

At the end of the competition, Siaton’s Inagta triumphed over the other dance contingents but Lucresia Reyes – Urtula, Bayanihan Dance Troupe’s founder and choreographer, was delighted at the dances presented including the supposed to be lost dance Polka Biana of Zamboangita, Kasal Dauinanon of Dauin, Manjuyod’sAmamanhig and Tanjay’s Sinulog de Tanjay.

All of the performances were rearranged through the artistic direction of Cultural Officer Villasis and was made into a huge cultural number that was performed in Manila. The group came to be known later as the Cultural Troupe of Negros Oriental.

Siaton town’s Palihi was chosen among the many presentations as the act that which commence each year’s festival with the breaking of the “sag-ob” a two meter bamboo filled with water along with offerings to the animist deities such as: “kamanyan” (almost smells like incense), white chicken, “tuba” (fermented coconut wine, “tableya” (native chocolate from cacao) paired with native tobacco smoke.

FU AND BUGLASAN

After thirty-six years since its inception, Buglasan Festival of Festivals stands at the crossroads of history, as one of the remarkable fruits of Foundation University, a babe once cradled in the humble arms of an institution that aims to conserve and preserve the history, culture, arts and traditions of the Filipinos, inspired by the ideals of its esteemed founder Dr. Vicente G. Sinco.

Foundation University’s participation in the present-day Buglasan Festival of Festivals is a testament to its lifelong commitment in order to sustain, to continually nourish and support the Province of Negros Oriental in its development programs through tourism, culture and arts.

(Slightly Edited for Republication, Revisiting BUGLASAN History After 35 Years; Information Source: Buglasan and Its Roots by Jacqueline Veloso-Antonio, MetroPost, Stopover, Sept. 21, 2003)

                               

Photo Credits: Hersley-Ven Casero, FU Resident Artist