Truly Visayan

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Monday, March 5, 2012


IT IS a modest exhibit set in one of the rooms of the Casa Gorordo Museum. Its simplicity however is easily surpassed by the stories and legacies of the artists involved. Titled ”Visayan Verve”, it commemorates those who have enriched Visayan art in various fields: Martino Abellana for painting, Napoleon Abueva for sculpture, Fernando Buyser for poetry, Pio Cabajar for cinema, Estelita Diola for dance and Vicente Rubi for music.

Abellana bears the titles “Amorsolo of the South” as well as “Dean of Cebuano Painters,” for having mentored some of today’s notable artists such as Romulo Galicano and Kimsoy Yap. Abueva is recognized as National Artist, whose works are characterized by the inclusion of Philippine hardwood like Molave, Narra and Kamagong. Diola, fondly called “Nang Titang,” is known for her contribution to the Sinulog choreography. In 2010, she was hailed by the Sinulog Foundation as “Pillar of the Sinulog Festival”.

Leyte-born Fernando Buyser is not as well-known as literary figure Vicente Sotto or poet Vicente Ranudo, but his literary creations are likewise exemplary. His works are in the Sugbuanong Binisaya language. Buyser was a prolific writer in the golden age of Cebuano literature, which was the earlier half of the 20th century. He had published more than 20 works; and had even invented his own poetic format, the sonanoy.

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Vicente Rubi has a tale similar to Mozart’s as he had died a pauper despite having several popular compositions. Rubi’s most well-known work is the Yuletide carol “Kasadya Ning Taknaa,” which he wrote for a 1933 Christmas musical. Rubi died in 1980, impoverished from fighting for royalties for his compositions.

Pio Cabajar completes the list for his involvement in the birth of Cebuano cinema. He earned the title “Father of Cebuano Cinema” after having written and directed the first Cebuano talking movie, Bertoldo-Balodoy, in 1938. He was among the directors who played a part in the golden age of Cebuano cinema in the 1950s.

Visayan Verve will run until March 15. According to the museum’s curator, Florencio Moreño, the exhibit is the first of a series that will pay tribute to Visayan art. The next Visayan Verve will give emphasis to Visayan cinema and will be held in February next year.

More than an act of appreciation, Visayan Verve is an avenue for the present generation to recognize the individuals who had kept the Visayan culture alive through their creativity.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 06, 2012.

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