LAST February 16, 2010, around six in the evening, in Msgr. Liu Activity Center at St. John’s Institute, I had one grand post-valentine treat shared with my friends Briggy, Gra, Ronald and Marielle. We watched Ms. Imelda O. Cojuango’s production of “How to Remain Young at Heart, The Musical.” The show was brought to Bacolod by the Foundation for Lay Education on Heart Diseases (FLEHD) Inc., in cooperation of the FLEHD, Negros Occidental Chapter.

The show featured Janet “Jai” Sabas Aracama, mezzo soprano and Ervin Lumauag, tenor and the musical compositions of Jeremiah Calisang, with the lyrics and the libretto written by Adolfo Bellosillo, M.D, the president of FLEHD, and some members of the Philippine Ballet Theater.

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Choreography was by Ronilo Jaynario and direction was made by Dr. Adolfo Bellosillo himself. After Dr. Bellosillo made a very informative lecture on coronary artery disease and the thrust of FLEHD to make us lay people understand hypertension and stroke among others, through this musical, Dr. Francisco G. Maleza, Jr. the President of FLEHD–Negros Occidental Chapter gave the welcome message.

The musical play, divided into seven parts, started with an overture of the different activities of FLEHD in different areas of the country, followed by an overview of the case of one very promising, highly productive, young executive who was well on his way to the top of a corporate world, when he had a heart attack.

“ICU”, the second part, has an eight-song repertoire consisting of “God of Our Fathers” (Ervin Lumauag), “A Family Loss” (Jai Sabas Aracama), “One Coronary Victim” (Ervin Lumauag), “The Root Cause of It All) (Jai Sabas Aracama and Ervin Lumauag), “This thing Called Angina” (Ervin Lumauag), “Look Into Your Family Tree” (Jai Sabas Aracama and Ervin Lumauag), “The Fetus and Atherosclerosis” (Jai Sabas Aracama), and “Haw Haw Hee” (Jai Sabas Aracama).

Part 2 segued to a flashback on the everyday life of the patient with “Personality and Coronary” rendered by Jai. The four-members of the Philippine Ballet Theater dances to Jeremiah Calisang’s composition of “Exercise To Your Heart’s Content”, ”Hypertension: The Silent Killer”, “Cholesterol: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”, and “Never At Dawn”. The musical’s epilogue ended with “At the Crow of the Cock”, “Out There” and the final renditions of Ervin and Jai of the “FLEHD Songs of Thanksgiving and Farewell.”

The show’s talents are indeed amazing. The voices of Jai Sabas Aracama and Ervin Lumauag are powerful, remarkable, and world-class.

Of course, we Bacoleños are very proud of Ervin, he being a native of our city, and coming from a family of musicians. The steps, the poses, the leaps and the spins of the four dancers from the Philippine Ballet Theater are astounding. The musical arrangement of UP Master in Music Jeremiah “Jimboy” Calisang paired well with the original compositions of the good and talented Dr. Bellosillo. And more, the advocacy and the commitment to educate the common folks on coronary heart disease are indeed praiseworthy.

Commendable indeed are the FLEHD’s programs. And it is but fitting to mention them.

FLEHD Board of Trustees are Jose S. Concepcion, chairman; Dr. Adolfo B. Bellosillo, president; and Imelda O. Cojuangco, Johnny T. Litton, Nellie U. Bengzon, Marixi Rufino-Prieto, Dr. Alberto G. Romulo, Zenaida Tantoco, and Norberto Lingling Uy as members of the board.

FLEHD officers of the provincial Chapter are Dr. Francisco G. Maleza Jr., president; Dr. Lourdes B. Infante, vice president; Dr. Milagros P. Amarra, secretary; Dr. Estrella C. Leong, treasurer; and Dr. Luz Maapni, immediate past president.

Faculty members are Dr. Christine Marie A. Puey, Dr. Arthur F. Ascalon, Dr. Michelli G. Yusay, Dr. Anthony C. Gebusion, and Dr. Ramon M. Trocio.

If the world has labeled February as the heart-month, then the more reason that we should take care of our heart by modifying or even changing our lifestyle to a healthier one (and that includes our eating patterns), doing exercise, and lessening or handling well the stresses and pressures in our everyday life.

We really had a very heart-warming post-Valentine celebration. And we cross our fingers to take good care of our hearts.

On viewing an exhibit

Artistic. Historical. Informative. Mesmerizing. These are the delights evoked by the fifteen frames, three in canvass, twelve on paper, arrayed well on a row. Each frame contains a Boxer Codex. According to the artist’s flyer, the Boxer Codex is an illustrated manuscript commissioned in 1595 by Governor General to the Philippines, Luis Perez de Dasmarinas.

The manuscript contained descriptions and historical data regarding Spanish territories in Asia. The Codex also showed colored paintings of our ancestors during the Spanish period. All these, plus characters from the “baybayin”, a system of communication used by the pre-Spanish Filipinos, wherein each character represents a syllable instead of a letter, can be viewed from Ivi Avellana-Cosio’s paintings now exhibited at Capitana Gallery in Balay Ni Tana Dicang at Talisay City.

The show, entitled “Ninuno”, was opened to the public last Charter Fiesta of the City of Talisay last February 11 and will run until April 10.

A member of the Barangay Theatre Guild, the Blumentritt Group of Artists, the Monday Music Club and listed in the International Who’s Who of Women in Cambridge, England, the multi-awarded Ivi Avellana–Cosio had made all the artworks on exhibit just last year. Her works in “Ninuno” all contain geometric patterns, metals and gem ornamentations. In her flyer, Cosio claimed that her artworks are but interpretations of historical records describing our ancestors.

Remember that our local forebears were called “pintados” because they were tattooed? Or how the “Maragtas” recorded that the “Barter of Panay” was made with the “golden sadok” and the “perlas na kuwintas na sumangyad sa lupa?”

In one of my visits to Dumaguete, I had the chance to see the armors, breastplates, clothes, breastplates and other paraphernalia of one Datu all stacked in one room. All these would attest that indeed our ancestors were already having a kind of fashion, and culture, of their own even before they were discovered by the Spaniards.

So, after viewing the exhibit, I agree that indeed our ancestors were not uncultured at all. The paintings were but reflective of our heritage.

So, if you want to see both history and art combined, why not spare a little of your time to visit the Balay Ni Tana Dicang at Talisay City?

It’s only seldom do we have an exhibit of the works of one world-class artist, like Ivi Avellana-Cosio.

Try to have a closer look at the “Ninuno” series. And you’ll come to appreciate more of your lineage.