*repost of my article in May 22, 2011 issue of Cordillera Today
One gloomy afternoon at the Baguio Arts Guild’s Greenhouse Effect Gallery at the Baguio Botanical Gardens, an emergency meeting was about to begin. Then the chair of the guild, the late Santiago Bose sat in the middle to deliver a statement. The issue was his decision to replace the current president of the guild and caretaker of the gallery due mainly to inefficiency. The gallery has deteriorated in the past couple of months, there’s no electricity and the gift shop is practically empty, so is the guild’s bank account. Bose called for new elections. The president cried foul, who then mustered enough “members,” majority of whom belonged to those who have given the guild up for dead in the past couple of years, and called for this emergency meeting. Bose, coming from a major surgery, obliged, traveled straight from the hospital in Manila to Baguio, and agreed to attend the meeting to state his case.
Halfway through his statement, the heckling began. He never had the chance to finish what he had to say. Instead, he just stood up, and calmly said, “I quit.” Something died in him that afternoon, and the death of the group that once united local artists, the organization that put Baguio on the international map as a haven for world-class artists, the guild that was Bose’s brainchild, began.
An arts festival was attempted by the guild later that year, which excluded Bose, of course. On December 2, 2002, we learned that the festival couldn’t decide on how to go about the closing ceremony the following day. That evening, Bose, after months of gloom, depression and loneliness following his decision to turn his back on his brainchild, was in an unusually upbeat mood, despite a lingering fever. Reggae music put him to sleep that night, and woke up struggling to breathe. I along with two other friends of his would rush him to the hospital later that morning. On the afternoon of December 3, 2002, he passed away, and the Baguio Arts Guild’s arts festival ended.
Amidst all the clutter of the past 15 years is a poster for “Sprikitik, Marabuntas, Smorstikens,” a multimedia tribute we held for Bose three years after his death. The title lifted from Bose’s “magic words” when performing tricks for children. There are also posters and programs for that first musical Open Space staged in Baguio. Letters we sent to schools to promote he plays “Pangarap,” “Once on this Island,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Ang Paglilitis ni Mang Serapio,” etc. Photos of performances at UP Baguio, SLU-CCA, UC Theater, Tayug, Lingayen and Dagupan in Pangasinan, Candon, Ilocos Sur, Daet Camarines Norte and Lipa, Batangas. Photos of our children through the years growing up in the backstage of various theaters, of them onstage as performers in some productions, of them helping to make props and set pieces for plays.
But the boxes I bought for the move weeks ago remain empty.
I pick up a copy of the first straight play I wrote, “Manifest Destiny.” I think I like my original title for this play, “Anino.” It’s a play about Rizal’s life through the eyes of his brother, Paciano, an unsung hero. On the first page, first line reads, “PACIANO (to JUAN): ‘Nandito ka na naman. Wala ka nang mapapala sa’kin, hijo.’” I'd like to tell this story one more time.
Pack that packing tape along with those packing boxes, I guess we’re gonna stay in this house for quite a while longer.