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.
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)