THE Pangkat Silayan-Igorots on the Road cultural troupe composed of students from the University of Baguio (UB), Saint Louis University (SLU), Baguio College Foundation (now the University of the Cordilleras) and from several Barangays in the city, specially from Balsigan and Asin Road km. 4.
It was a private service volunteer group of skilled and talented performers of dance and music organized by yours truly and my betterhalf Consuelo Sol in our modest and humble effort to help in the promotion and popularization of tourism activities and programs of Magandang Baguio.
Our activities along this line, started with Baguio Tourism council of the late former Vice Mayor and City Councilor Virgenia de Guia who at that time in the 1960’s managed a private tourism agency here.
The cultural troupe also performed for faith healing tourists particularly under the care and supervision of Jun Labo, Tony Agpao and Mr. Palitayan.
Our welcome mabuhay or farewell cultural presentation was a special event for the foreign visitors. It was overwhelmingly enjoyed by the visitors specially the “pista sa nayon” theme and sceneries of the show.
Most of the time, there were tears of joy in understanding the Pilipino way of life. At one time, the late Minister of Tourism, Jose “Sunshine” Aspiras who watched our cultural show commended the pangkat for the cultural endeavour. “You and your group in doing an excellent job in making the short stay very pleasant and memorable,” he said.
The tourism promotion activities of the cultural troupe became more significant and interesting when I served as the City Tourism Director of our “syodad” from 1971 to 1979.
The cultural troupe was one of my most important weapon in the various citywide national and international tourism programs of the city administration specially under the leadership of the late City Mayor Luis L. Lardizabal.
The Pangkat Silayan-Igorots on the Road had at least a 45 minutes repartciore of provincial folk dances as well as highland Igorot tribal dances and songs, showcasing Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
The lowland presentation includes a “harana” scene, a brief religious procession, and folk dances which include cariñosa, sayew ed tapew na banko, pala palo, pandango sa ilaw and tinikling climaxed with the Muslim Singkil folk dance number. The Igorot highland tribal show included the Bonto war dance, Kalinga pot dance, Ifugao wedding dance, Apayao dance and highlighted with the Benguet festival dance with audience participation.
I remember with joy and pride when I personally invited President Ferdinand E. Marcos to dance the Benguet “tayao” during the dinner-cultural program in honor of Thailang Prime Minister Kukrit Pronoj who visited Baguio in 1975. The President with his graceful Benguet dancing form brought the house down to a full standing ovation. Our troupe was part of the welcome-reception entourage at the Loakan Airport.
Everytime the Philippine Military Academy had special VIP or foreign visitor, our troupe was always invited to entertain them. So, is the case with the Philippine National Railways in Manila.
At one time we performed, courtesy of the PNR, at the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Festival in the Bicol Region and during the PNR’s 82nd Anniversary celebration.
We also had performances for the Christian Family Movement Luzon Area Convention, House of Delegates of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Annual Convention in 1974, Commission on National Integration in Quezon City, the World Chess Championship match between Kissinger and Karpov in Baguio, 10th Conference of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Council, 1975 BENECO Anniversary, 1975; Southeast Asia YMCA Conference in Baguio, Fukouka prefecture, Japan, Youth Goodwill Cruise 1975, UP Baguio Cultural Program and the City of Baguio on several occasion, U.S. Clark Air Base, Pampanga, The Cultural Minority Program of Pampanga, and in several other places, organization and programs. For several years, we also performed regularly for Australian tourists led by Leigh Boheur, a tour business operator and a writer of the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
Ms. Boheur in one of her articles said, “in every case, it turned out to be a week visit which changed their lives for the better.” The writer added, “The city market has become a happy hunting groun.
The honesty of the market vendors astonished the visitors. For each group of Australian visitors, togetherness became truly meaningful the night each is entertained by the Pangkat Silayan troupers, a group of university students and out-f-school youth presenting a program of mountain and lowland dances and songs. The flow pleasure and affection generated between the Silayans and the group has to be experienced to appreciate its intensity. Always the program’s end when the Silayans and member of the audience link their arms and sing – it’s a small world after all, “there are tears.” It is only at the moment that one suddenly, poignantly aware that the Philippines, which less than a week ago was a foreign country has become as love one’s country.
Our first daughter MaryJayne who passed away last March 2, this year in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, took over my position as the City Tourism Director of Baguio for at least eight years before she journeyed to America for better opportunities in life. She also worked hand-in-hand with the Pangkat Silayan-Igorots on the Road cultural ensemble in numerous citywide programs on the scoreboard.
The original members of the troupe included MaryJayne and her younger sister Marisol and brothers Raymund and Fritzgeral, Marietta Lucero, Adelina Imasa, Ruby Astudillo, Carolyn Gallardo, Irenee Guererro, Angeline Borja, Bernadette Mendoza, Gigi Datoc, eddie Genetiano, Jun Velasco, Gil Trinidad, Vic Lucas, Greg Robles, Eduardo Ngina, Leon Tayaban, Peter Bulwayen, among others. A number of Silayans were adopted by Australian and American tourists to continue their studies overseas.
Certainly, the demonstrated interest and efforts of the multi-awarded Silayans of yesteryears in the city’s tourism promotion programs is one for the books.