Pacete: Kansilay festival dance

ONE of the highlights of Silay 59th Charter Anniversary (June 6 to 12) is the street and arena presentation of the Legend of Kansilay (June 12 at 1 p.m.). Silaynons from 16 barangays combined their resources to come up with a colorful presentation (dance-drama) that has been culled out from the zarzuela based on the love and heroism of Princess Kansilay.

(I wrote the script in 1990 together with “Martsa sang Silaynon”).

It features a legend on how Silay was founded as a prosperous community with peace loving villagers who obey what is moral based on culture, mores, tradition, and practices of the ancestors.

It resembles the founding of “Carobcob,” the first shoreline settlement in Silay.

Unlike other dance festivals, “Kansilay” follows storylines complete with setting, characters, plot, sub-plots, conflict, climax and the story ends like what you have seen in epic movies. The music progresses in a mood that could be inspiring, jovial, haunting, and even frightening. It blares out the wisdom of the indigenous people and the evil desire of the marauders.

The important characters are: Kansilay (village princess), Lawaan (lover of Kansilay), Bubog (chieftain and father of Kansilay), Lunok (villain, leader of the bandits), Diwata (fairy of the flowers), and Kamangyan (babaylan in the village). The shoreline shows how the indigenous people engage in fishing, farming, commerce, trade and cottage industry.

Central to the story is the love of Kansilay and Lawaan in a natural environment where flora and fauna flourished. This simply goes to show that our ancestors have preserved the hunting ground for their survival. Biodiversity has been emphasized for the survival of their ancestral domain.

The villagers are celebrating a thanksgiving for the bountiful harvests and peaceful life through songs, dances, and offerings (rituals) to the spirits of nature through a “babaylan.” This is culturally enriching because Silaynons goes back to the dawn of civilization, a closer look at the development and formation of their culture.

In the middle of the celebration, a group of bandits headed by Lunok arrived to loot the village, abduct the women for their harem and capture the men to become slaves. The men of Chieftain Bubog headed by Lawaan fought the intruders. In here, the viewers will see a stunning choreography of war scene properly executed to demonstrate proper blocking and levels just like what you get in a theatrical presentation.

While the fight is in progress, Bubog is with Kansilay on an elevated area viewing the skirmish like a general trying to gauge what his men can do. Princess Kansilay mumbles a chant for the spirits of nature to come and help her tribe. Diwata appears with a sword and gives it to Kansilay.

That is a signal for Kansilay and the other maidens to join the fight. Kansilay joins Lawaan at the arena fight. Here, we will see how choreographers and fight directors come up a war dance sequence loaded with energy and enthusiasm.

The bandits scampered with Lunok (their leader) making a promise to return. The villagers continue to their thanksgiving ritual praising Kansilay and showing gratitude to Diwata for the constant help to the village. Visayan culture here is well emphasized with the use of “patadyong” as costume, bamboo as materials for varied crafts, and clay for pots and jars.

“Hugyaw Silay! Hugyaw kay Kansilay!” This is the battle cry that fuses the hearts and minds of the Silaynons to be proud of their heritage. Life is sweet in Silay and the past if forever. The virtues and values of Kansilay are lived again by the present generation and will still be transmitted to the next generation. Hugyaw Silay!

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