August 26 and September 4 were two dates I calendared in anticipation of “Buwan ng Wika” (National Language Month) in two schools, Colegio San Agustin-Biñan and San Beda College Alabang (SBCA).
If you are a Filipino and you are in the academe, I am sure you are aware of Proclamation 1041. By now, you might be wondering why the other date of this month-long celebration is in September. Between the two institutions mentioned, which do you think had it in the “wrong” month? It’s my very own SBCA. Originally scheduled on August 28, the Languages Department of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) had no choice but to move the program to a later date due to priorities in schedule and lack of rehearsal time. A week before that was the midterm examinations. Reasonable enough, eh? On the other hand, CSA held theirs as scheduled, and I had the honor of witnessing their culminating activity. Invited as one of the judges for their “Lakan at Lakambini ng Wika sa Malikhaing Kasuotang Pinoy” by my former Department Head in SBCA, Prof. Zen F. Reyes, I basked in my ethnicity for more than three hours in a different territory.
I was all eyes as the 12 candidates strutted in their chosen Philippine traditional wear. I smiled as I watched these college students carried themselves with great elan and pride.
Humility aside, it was a little easy for me to spot the sure winners. I guess my being a regular viewer of local and international pageants on TV, plus my experiences of being a judge in the school where I first taught, trained my eyes for the X-factor. After the question and answer portion (this was another exciting part of the event as I was picked by six candidates to throw the question in the vernacular), I was prepared for the top three winners from the Lakan and from the Lakambini respectively.
My first time at CSA was tremendously an experience to treasure! Aside from reinforcing my sense of nationalism in this very warm Augustinian community, it was my most awaited reunion with my first set of good friends in San Beda.
Nine days after, it was San Beda’s turn to celebrate Filipinism.
I handle English classes but being part of the Languages Department made me hands-on in helping prepare for this affair. The over-all teacher in charge was Ms. Merly, who is my best friend and kumare. I could not say “No” to her when she requested me to be the overseer of the “Rampa ng Kasuotang Pilipino” where 18 of my EN101 students from different courses and sections were involved.
With the full assistance of the very creative Likhang Sining members (special mention to Mave, John Carlo, Angelie, and Louise), the fashion show-cum-contest ran smoothly and successfully. This first segment of the program was somewhat similar to what I saw at CSA except that there was no Q and A. Practically, the candidates just had to walk, pose, and project on the ramp.
It was a colorful showcase of our Malay race, and I was beaming with pride as Sir Algene and I heeded the request for an impromptu display of our uniqueness as Filipinos on the catwalk.
Following this competition was the “Sabayang Pagbigkas” (Speech Choir). I think the judges did not find it difficult to pick the champion, likewise with the Male and the Female Best in Traditional Wear.
What made this affair extra-special was the presence of Mr. Henry Burgos, a multi-awarded writer in Filipino. A celebrity in our midst made the atmosphere in the multipurpose hall more pandemonic.
Honestly, this annual gathering will always top my list. I may not be teaching the Filipino language, but I can always vouch for the authenticity of my Filipino heritage.