By Haidee C. Pineda, images by Leonardo A. Reyes and Jefferson Villacruz
(SEPT. 18)— “Arkipelago,” an impressive story about the formation of the Philippine archipelago and the origins of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), opened UAAP Season 78 at the Araneta Coliseum on Sept. 5.
Staged by a cast of close to 300, coming from 10 performing groups at UP Diliman, the hour-long spectacle left the audience in awe.
UAAP Board Member Edwin T. Reyes of De La Salle University (DLSU), who was so impressed with the program, said “Congratulations, UP! I really enjoyed it! That was a great show!”
The extravaganza, which showcased Filipino culture and traditions, was one of UP’s major tasks as host of the current season.
The show opened with the prologue dubbed “Tibok ng Puso.” Two performers suspended on harnesses gracefully floated down to the stage while the enchanting voices of three children narrating the tale of the formation of the Philippines’ 7,107 islands and dancers, in colorful costumes, pounded their drums to the beating heart.
The tale progressed with the appearance of sea creatures, flora and fauna while a binukot (Hiligaynon term which means well-kept maiden) played by Natasha Cabrera, a BA Theatre Arts graduate of the College of Arts and Letters (CAL), sang about the competition among light, darkness, sea and sky. The song was an original composition by Prof. Jem R. Javier of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) and set to music by singer, music arranger and composer Krina Cayabyab, BM Choral Conducting, 2010 summa cum laude.
Multihued lights filled the performance area, creating an illusion of sea, air and land. Spectators at the Araneta Coliseum fell silent upon hearing the binukot’s captivating voice then gasped loudly when a school of fish, jellyfish, dugong (sea cow), manta ray, pawikan (sea turtle), butanding (whale shark) and the higantes appeared, carried by the dancers, and floated across the stage to the frenzied beat of Philippine musical instruments.
The gigantic sea creatures, flowers and trees—all made of paper mache and other materials—were masterfully crafted by students from the UP College of Fine Arts (CFA), under the guidance of Prof. Leonardo Rosete, Marc San Valentin and Ohm David.
Helmed by Prof. Dexter Santos, Dulaang UP’s artistic director, “Arkipelago” was conceptualized and written by Dr. Sir Anril P. Tiatco of CAL, Javier and Kevin Brandon E. Saure of the UP Diliman Information Office.
Other members of the artistic team were Cayabyab (musical direction), Peter Alcedo Jr. (overall choreography); John Ilao Batalla (lighting designer), Darwin Desoacido and Bonsai Cielo (costume design); and Winter David (video design).
The story climaxed with the arrival of eight balangays (Butuan boat), carrying people from Angono, Rizal, Cordillera, Tacloban, Bacolod, Cebu, T’boli/South Cotabato, Davao and Tawi-Tawi.
The eight islands and balangays represented, respectively, the UAAP’s eight participating universities, namely: Adamson University (AdU), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of the East (UE), Far Eastern University (FEU), National University (NU), UP and University of Santo Tomas (UST).
UP Diliman Chancellor Michael L. Tan, in an interview with BusinessWorld Online, said “Five big colleges of the university were involved. Arts and Letters, so you would see the best of theater people. Human Kinetics, of course. Fine Arts and we know how great their lantern parade entries are. College of Music as it is going to be a big musical extravaganza. Social Science will give a historical component to it. So everything will be here.”
Among the performers were UP Cherubim and Seraphim members Jose Gabriel C. Alcazar, Jose Rafael C. Alcazar and Sabien Ongtengco; Cabrera, UP Concert Chorus, UP Dance Company, UP DanceSport Society, UP Filipiniana Dance Group, UP ROTC Symphonic Band, UP Streetdance Club, UP TUGMA and the UP Varsity Pep Squad.
In his welcome remarks, UP President Alfredo E. Pascual said “Matutunghayan natin ang husay at talino ng ating mga atleta na pinanday ng mahabang pagsasanay at displina at pinaningning ng tiyaga sa pag-aaral, pagiging tapat, patuloy na pagpapaunlad sa sarili, at pagtulong sa pagtatatag ng pamayanan at bansa. Pagpupugay mula sa UP para sa mga atleta ng UAAP!”
Pascual and UAAP officials presented the UAAP Season 77 trophy to University of Santo Tomas as the overall champion of the junior and senior division. Pascual was accompanied by Dr. Ester A. Garcia, University of the East president; Carmelita G. Mateo, UAAP Season 77 president; Rodrigo M. Roque, UAAP Season 77 secretary and treasurer, and UPD Chancellor Tan.
One of the highlights of the event was the parade of athletes representing the eight UAAP participating universities.
The UAAP Board of Trustees members were also introduced during the ceremony. They are Rev. Fr. Maximino D. Rendon, C.M. and Rev. Fr. Aldrin R. Suan, C.M. of AdU; Richard N. Palou and Emmanuel T. Fernandez of ADMU; Edwin Theodore C. Reyes and Emmanuel M. Calanog of DLSU; Mateo and Roque of UE; Anton R. Montinola and Jocelyn E. De Leon of FEU; Jose Nilo J. Ocampo and Joaquin C. Loyzaga of NU; Tan and Ronualdo U. Dizer of UP; Rev. Fr. Ermito G. De Sagon, O.P. and Gilda Ma. Paz R. Kamus of UST; and Atty. Rene Ma. M. Villa.
Tan, who is the current UAAP president, formally opened Season 78 followed by the oath of sportsmanship of the athletes.
Pop diva Bituin Escalante, together with the UP Concert Chorus, concluded the event on a high note and sang the official UAAP Hymn arranged by Cayabyab.
A celebratory dance of all the performers to the song “Tumitindig, Sumusulong,” which is also the UAAP Season 78’s theme especially composed and arranged by Cayabyab, ended the ceremony.
After the event, the UAAP men’s seniors division basketball tournament commenced with UP Fighting Maroons pitted against UE Red Warriors on the first game, and UST Growling Tigers versus AdU Soaring Falcons on the second game.
UP claimed its first win beating UE with a score of 62-55.