Tan-ok ni Edito, Tan-ok ni Vacie: Or why our Festival of Festivals is better off without ‘stage mayors’

Up, Sarrat Mayor Edito Balintona (left); Down, Bangui Mayor Salvacion Cimatu (center)

In her welcome remarks at the phenomenally successful Tan-ok ni Iocano Festival of Festivals, Nov. 17 at the Marcos Stadium in Laoag City, Governor Imee Marcos noted cheerfully that the delegations were well supported by their respective ‘stage mayors’, using the term in the same context as ‘stage mothers.’ Two mayors, however, went several steps further and took the stage, the center stage no less, and literally.

On a night of splendid dancing, heart-stopping stunts, and an overflow of Ilokano Talent, Honorable Edito Balintona, mayor of Sarrat, was no doubt the lousiest performer. Nearing the climax of his town’s Binakol Festival presentation, Balintona came out seated on top of a huge wooden structure, not unlike a parade float, together with a lady who, I would later learn, is his tourism officer, Dona Siazon. The mayor, who seemed at a loss, was seen being given instructions by Siazon as the performance went on, no doubt an insult to the efforts of dancers who attended painstaking practices for long hours so that they can perfect their act. But there was one thing the mayor did so well… wave at the crowd, a sea of humanity so huge it could have been impossible for him to resist the temptation of appearing on stage …to wave.

“What is their mayor doing there?” asked some spectators who also made comments that are too disrespectful to see print. Judges, sources say, gave Sarrat’s performance one of the lowest scores.

Honorable Salvacion “Vacie” Cimatu, mayor of the windmills town of Bangui, can surely dance. And I know she can sing as well. It was the second time she top-billed her town’s number. She performed, too, in last year’s inaugural edition of Tan-ok.

True, there are no rules that say mayors cannot join the presentations. But virtuous human beings do things not simply because they can. Surely, we would not want future editions of Tan-ok being dominated by more politicians, both those who can dance like Cimatu and those who can wave like Balintona. Should they insist on dancing, however, Provincial Tourism Officer Ianree Raquel could consider putting all mayors together in a production number. It would not only satisfy some mayors’ itch to hit the stage, it would also be a powerful show of solidarity.

All year round, our mayors dominate the stage and we listen to their long and egoistic speeches. Our towns and cities are peppered with huge streamers bearing their photoshopped faces. I have no idea how Mayors Cimatu and Balintona are performing off stage, they could even be doing really great in their jobs as chief executives. But that night, being a good mayor really meant doing what 21 other mayors chose to do: to remain seated and proudly applaud the vast talents of their constituents. Surely, there are many other beautiful gents and ladies from every town in Ilocos Norte who can sway as gracefully as, if not more gracefully than, their mayors. Balintona may have had good intentions; maybe they wanted to lend “star power” to their respective teams, if indeed they looked at themselves as stars. But they are missing the point of this festival of the masses.

Last Saturday night was spectacular because of the dazzling lights, the larger-than-life props, and the refreshing music, but more than all these, it was a meaningful event because it showed what world-class talents young Ilocanos are. I had goosebumps listening to the Samiweng singers, Fatima, and my former student Joko Valbuena sing. For a while, I pinched myself to be sure I was still on earth, and not in heaven in the company of angels. I laughed heartily while watching cute kids from Banna acting as huge, red ants wiggling their behinds. I giggled while the teens of Laoag tackled the universal theme of courtship, love, and of happy endings. There are many more scenes that keep playing in my head which will continue to make me smile, and keep me proud of my people in the next many days.

…But I wonder how much more young artists of Bangui and Sarrat could have shined if only their respective mayors did not bask in the limelight.

41 Comments

Filed under Arts, Festivals, Filipino Youth, Tourism, Traditions

41 responses to “Tan-ok ni Edito, Tan-ok ni Vacie: Or why our Festival of Festivals is better off without ‘stage mayors’

  1. Lol Sir Herdy very well said!!!:)

  2. Ouch, this ‘stings like a venom.’ \m/

  3. JOY

    maybe they thought nobody would mind hehe:)))

  4. chichi garvida

    I am from Bangui and this is, in no way, a defense of how our town chief executive, Mayor Vacie took the center stage and outshone the performers in the recently-held Tan-ok ni Ilocano festival, but moreso, because I disagree with the idea of misjudging her (Mayor Vacie) or any other individual who had manifested her support and pride to the talents showcased by young people in our town by not merely applauding but taking part in the limelight. I do not see any form of “epalness” in her gesture, in fact, I am a witness of how she took time to be a part of the preparations; how she managed to take her time to check on the meals and snacks of the performers, even sewn some accessories to the costumes of the same; how she practiced with them until the wee hours of the morning; how she made sure that these young people would get home safely after every practice and most importantly, giving these young performers inspiration on what sacrifice and patience really meant. It is not within my conception what our good mayor’s intention was when she joined the troupe, all I know is that she deserves no less than the highest credit of what Bangui has achieved in the Tan-ok festival.

    • Kudos to Mayor Vacie for doing all those. Really heartwarming to know how she cared for the participants hands on. Still, she could just have left the performing to the younger ones. I am not judging her, chichi, as a mayor or as a person. In fact, I said she dances well. All I say is that it is not in the best interests of Tan-ok to be dominated by even more politicians in its next editions.

      • chichi garvida

        it was a night of awesome talents from the different municipalities… i enjoyed it, and that’s what really matters, isn’t it sir? looking forward to Tan-ok Festival 2013. I sure hope it would reap better and more positive response from the audience. Thank you!

        • Enjoying matters most, yes, and, as I said, the event was a phenomenal success. But I really don’t enjoy seeing mayors draw attention to themselves on the Tan-ok stage. Thank you, too.

        • Mac Corpuz,MD

          Hi Ms. Garvida. When a person involves herself and went to the center stage, she already implicitly took the risk of being criticized or being praised. Either constructive or destructive criticisms, she can only self- reflect and analyze them. Make changes and act on the alternatives. If she is wiling to do that, she can expect to become a greater leader in the future. And I wish her a great success….

    • Mac Corpuz,MD

      Ms. Garvida, based on your account, your mayor really did try her best. Unfortunately, her well-intentioned assistance, as you tend to believe, could have been better maximized. Don’t you think those mentioned support could have been delegated to her most trusted staff to assure every participant to go home safe and secured, order and distribute foods so as to avoid being tagged as “politicking” and divert her more precious timec attending to the needs of Bangui citizenry? I agree, if she wants to be supportive, but she could have given the best dancer of that group or whoever is ” Miss Bangui” to be the “star of the show” or anybody else, but her. After your reading your post, the more it made me believe ghat your very supporting mayor is like just any other politician after all…. But,of course, I can be wrong….
      By the way, I totally disagree with your poor judgment that it’s the lady mayor who deserves the “highest credit”. Acutally, its those participants who unselfishly shared their time and scraped their monies only to be able to attend, travel and perform to represent for Bangui….
      With no ulterior motive attached….

      • So impressed by your analysis and insight, sir. You are right; ultimate credit should always go to the people.

        • Mac Corpuz,MD

          Thank you Herdy. Pero sabi nga, Mahirap ang tumanda ng walang pinagkakatandaan. Seriously, I think serious discussions on issues concerning our people and their leaders in a place where there’s a balance on presentation of views is worth the time. Yes, your blog is worth my time…..

      • chichi garvida

        Good day to you Dr. Mac! I appreciate very much what you have shared and pointed out. I really am not in a position to speak on behalf of our good mayor. I still do hope she finds the time to read this blog to give her the much needed due premise(s) to air her side. As I have said, I do not see anything positive in pointing out wrong judgments in any individual, mayor or not, unless they know all the tiny details on why one speaks, acts and even not to act on anything…I may have poor judgments. as you have said, but still I am a “fan” of the municipality with huge fans, and I put Mayor Vacie on top of it all.

        • Who is judging whom? You, in fact, are judging that wrong judgments have been made. So, you are the judge who seems to be above all.

          Fact is they danced. My opinion is that they should not have. It is as simple as that. What you need to do is to present arguments why they needed to dance despite the abundance of local talents. The top winners achieved what they achieved not because their mayors performed on stage.

          Besides, public officials must always be ready to face public scrutiny and judgment for all their actions. As a blogger and journalist, I did not make any breach of professional ethics.

          And the good mayor is as welcome as everyone else to share her insights here at Riknakem.

          • Lisa

            Maybe you should read Mac Corpuz, MD’s comments again when he blatantly criticized Ms. Garvida’s judgment as “poor” judgement. So for you to say she’s judging the wrong judgment, read again!

        • Mac Corpuz,MD

          Hello again Ms. Garvida. I am starting to like this lively ” discussion . 😉 Of course, we can always disagree but not disagreeable, right? Let me make myself clear though, Its not my intention to judge any one, but it’s the circumstances and the events. No disrespect meant to our local politicians. By the way, I admire your strong support to your leadership. It’s the belief of people like you that a strong culture of unity rely on. Please continue to keep this balanced discussion going on. Both sides being represented makes any discussion more productive.
          In a lighter note, I had been looking for the longest time, a great friend of my sister named Edna Garvida. Do you know her and if so, how can I get in touch with her? I will appreciate your response. Peace? 😉

          • chichi garvida

            Hello Dr. Mac! Yes, Edna Garvida is my aunt. She is connected with the LTO at present. She seldom comes home so I don’t really get the chance to have long chats with her. You can search her at facebook, though. She still carries her maiden name because she prefers to be in a state of single blessedness (forever?) 🙂 Thank you, too, for this healthy talks. At least our politicians can be aware of their actions and be modest enough to think twice before setting their foot unto something. Ciao!

  5. i know a good dance when i see one as well as a funny dance.i know that my performance at TOM’S WORLD at robinsons world was a funny one.although someone who coerced me to do it says its good.LOL.if i was there i could have judged if it was good or funny but i know and respect your judgement herdy….so it must be “not good”

  6. This was more than what I expected Sir Herdy. Bilang sa live streaming ko lang ‘to napanood, hindi ko napansin yung mga mayors. We really do not know what the true intentions of Mayors Balintona and Cimatu are until they really speak about it. While watching the event though, I suddenly came across the idea that this is the last Tan-ok Festival before May 2013. With no hesitations and no judgments, I exclaimed, “The campaign period officially starts tonight!” I sincerely hope now that I was very wrong.

    • As a birdwatcher, I really enjoyed your town Vintar’s performance. Looking forward to that big bird Siwawer’s mighty appearance in Tan-ok’s next editions. =)

    • Mac Corpuz,MD

      I agree. The 2 town leaders could have the best intention but the timing is just suspicious. So the question is, did they perform in last year’s Tan-ok? Will they perform next year when election is over? We’ll wait and
      see…..

      • I’m from Sarrat, medyo kontrobersyal nga yung paglabas ni Apo Balintona. Lalo pa at medyo magiging mainit nga yung eleksyon dito this coming May. Sir Mac Corpuz your question was good. Andun pa ba kaya sila next year?

  7. jojo and tara

    Chichi Garvida is a close relative of vacie sales. Chichi’s mother and Vacie sales are first cousins. So do we expect an unbiased comment from Ms. Garvida?

    Putting that aside, here’s my take on the issue.

    I agree that it would have been better if Vacie let the limelight hug the dancers who truly deserved every second of and not have seized it for herself.

    But then again, if you know Vacie the mayor and the person, you would understand why. The Saleses (Vacie is married to a Cimatu) of Bangui are not known for their intellect. They are the entertainment variety. They are good at singing and dancing, and not so much on flexing their brain muscles. So you don’t expect much from Vacie in terms of eloquence, sustained critical thinking. She sings well, she dances well, she looks better than most, and you just stop there.

    The danger is, when one is clothed with executive powers, no matter how miniscule (small town?) it is, the power goes to an empty head and somehow to compensate the lack of it, one has to do what he/she is good at – entertainment! Ah perhaps she is deluded by the applause! But officials are official, they have to rule, decide, oversight, dream, envision, inspire. you can’t do all these things without thinking, to put it basically. but what can we do? Bangui people elected her. We only wish it could have been better if Bangui had a thinking mayor. And what a bonus it could have been if the mayor elected can sing and dance too.

    • Thank you for this courageous and insightful analysis you shared.

      • Del

        Wow, I commend you herdy, in allowing the comment of jojo and tara posted in the comments section of your blog. You really have balls, hahaha. How about Batac and Pinili? Did Bismark Quidang and Mayo Bumanglag perform? They were members of MMSU Cultural Dance troupe, so it should not be surprising if they did.

    • Mac Corpuz,MD

      Hi Jojo and Tara. What a relevation you just had! I hope you’re not a relative of the opposition 😉 I don’t know the Saleses of Bangui personally myself, but pardon me, I think your statement above is a little below the belt. Let’s limit and focus on the issues and not on personal attacks. The lady mayor, for whatever is worth, has been elected by her constituents. Who knows, the honorable mayor could be the most kind politician in the area? We don’t know the whole circumstances. Who are we then to judge them their values, right? Palagay ko, kailangan kainuman kita, along with Herdy. Seems like you know a lot about celebrities and I want to hear them…Deal? 😉

      • chichi garvida

        Hello again Dr, Mac! Jojo and tara might knew me well for them to know that me and Mayor vacie are relatives.. that explains it all…blood is thicker than water, no matter what the circumstances..:) thanks, anyway..

        • Mac Corpuz,MD

          Hi Chichi, that’s what are relatives for. I commend you for being such. I hope my relatives will defend me in the same intensity as you when I am in such situations, too….. I hope I can visit a great “fan” to tour me around to the town with a big fan ( ie.windmills)… Take care for now….

          • Thank God, Mayor Vacie danced. The two of you became friends with mutual admiration for each other. =)

            • chichi garvida

              🙂 Hoping to meet you in person Sir Herdy Yumul! I know a good writer when I have read his article(s)..and you are. No, doubt about it. I have also articles ngem agingganaak lang ti Bannawag. And I am much of a poet rather than a writer. 🙂

            • Mac Corpuz,MD

              Okay Herdy, don’t be jealous yet. My offer of peace is still to be accepted. 😉 Di bale, I owe you one… Seriously, I am damned if I won’t admit that I am impressed with the kind of readers you have. Educated, matured, civilized and able to express themselves very well. Kahit na nagkakapersonalan na, you still sense that everyone is not just ordinary minds…. And they know how to respect each other’s opinions… Kudos karikna…..

              • chichi garvida

                I am new in the internet world Dr. Mac, I am a housekeeper and it was just during my peaceful hours (when my kids are out in school) when I read the blog of Sir Herdy. It was nice knowing you all! Peace! 🙂

    • chichi garvida

      I guess you pretty knew well the details on why I overreacted (did I?) on the article of Sir Yumul about mayors taking the limelight. Your comments may be harsh, even rude to tell you frankly, but they are taken well.. It would have been more convincing if you have done it by divulging your identity. The town of Bangui is just a small town, and everyone knows details of each one, especially if you are known. So, I guess you are from here, or somebody else you know from here has fed you with bits of information of me and mayor Vacie (of us being close relatives). Putting our relationship aside, it would be more decent on your part if you have given your comments constructively and not otherwise.

  8. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com

    Wonderful post.jalal

  9. LAYA Wine
    The end result will tell us if what we do is worthwhile. I mean the satisfaction in our hearts and peace in our mind after sharing our opinion, sharing or taking the limelight, or just simply sharing a piece of bread. Kudos to you Herdy for this site and for being so patriotically Ilokano!

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