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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, April 11, 2018
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with Matè Espina

A promise fulfilled

Rock & Refuge

The Panaad sa Negros Festival will open its doors next week and since it is celebrating its 25 th year, a lot is in store for the people of Negros.

Among the highlights this year is the Negrosanon musical “Panaad: The Promise Fulfilled,” directed by Calvin Millado and written by Dwight Gaston.

The all-Negrense star-studded show will feature Kuh Ledesma, Joel Torre, Ronnie Lazaro, Emcy Corteza, Vanya Castor, Carlos Sison and Audie Gemora, and promises to have all the elements a musical ought to have – one that will probably drive us to tears remembering the glorious days of Negros, the Batang Negros crisis, and where we are now decades later.

I remember that crisis though we were still too young to really understand its implications. The poster boy of Batang Negros, Joel Abong, was a patient of our late mother and though he was always referred to as a child of a sakada, Joel was actually from Banago, as we learned later.

Those depressing times were when the late Msgr. Antonio Fortich became a force in Negros, getting donors to come in and help the people and of course he earned the ire of many landlords. This was when we saw a lot of religious leaders flee to the mountains and joining the rebels.

Msgr. Fortich was so popular in the Catholic Church that when he visits the Vatican, a lot of Bishops gave him the utmost respect for what he has done for Negros and that’s why among the bishops that came our way, he was most loved but also hated, depending on which side you were on.

But many have forgotten those times, opting to bury them in the deepest recesses of their memories, not wanting to be reminded of the abuses that happened, nor of the outpouring of kindness and support from a lot of people.

Next week, we will be reminded by those times and I hope the musical will inspire and unite us all as a people especially in the light of what’s happening in our country.

I have no doubt, though, that it will with Calvin’s direction. I’ve never worked with Calvin but my sisters have and they have nothing but praise for him. Dwight on the other hand is an icon in both film and television stemming from the Batibot days.

I’ve worked with Audie Gemora who was our Simoun in Ryan Cayabyab’s El Filibusterismo musical when it was staged in CCP and when we had our Japan tour under Tanghalang Pilipino.

Of course, Kuh Ledesma remains one of our country’s divas and her singing remains outstanding when we watched her show a couple of years ago in the Ikthus theatre. Emcy Corteza is a jazzy crooner, friend of my older siblings and except for a few jamming sessions uploaded in Facebook, I have not seen her perform and I am very excited to see her in this musical.

Joel Torre and Ronnie Lazaro are among our seasoned character actors and I recently saw Carlos Sison perform in the last Jazz Festival and he shows a lot of promise, not to mention the fact that he is very good-looking.

The musical will be on April 18 th at SMX and I hope many will support this especially that proceeds will be for the benefit of Kalipay Negrense, a foundation headed by big-hearted Anna Balcells that takes care of abandoned and abused children.

Another promise fulfilled was the coming together of the nine children of Catalina Magbanua Carinal, known as Lola Tale who celebrated her 95 th birthday over the weekend at Sugarland Hotel.

Lola Tale remains very formidable, going up the stage aided by a cane and a great-grandson on another side and still very sharp at her age.

The Carinal family is almost family to us because of daughter Lynn, known to many as Bebing Espina, the loyal secretary of our late mom and now of my sister, Dr. May Rife.

Bebing came to our family when she was still single and we witnessed her marriage to Rodolfo Casia and the birth of all their six children and for those decades that she has been with our family, her own family has become ours too.

At Lola Tale’s birthday, all nine children – Betty, Ronnie, Jose Jr., Danilo, Lina Ephraim, Nolito, Lynn and Judith came from near and far to celebrate this blessing and what a blessing it is to still witness and see all your children along with 26 grandchildren and 36 great grandchildren.

And Lola Tale is really admirable, raising her children singlehandedly after her husband, Jose Sr., died at an early age and while she was pregnant with Judith.

She had a “kapihan” in La Castellana and she worked hard to give her kids good education with one even ending up a general and a couple of engineers. Hers is a story worth emulating and no one was prouder of her than her nine children and their offspring and of course, her only sibling, Lola Dora, 87, who came to wish her older sister to live till a hundred.

Lola Tale has fulfilled her promise to her children and now their children are fulfilling their promise to her to be by her side for more years to come.

Lastly, another promise fulfilled is the fourth visit of the relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus that arrived in Kabankalan City yesterday and will be here in the Bacolod Diocese Friday. Devotees will surely come in droves with hopeful hearts that their wishes will be granted with the intercession of the saint. Let’s hope we will have good weather in the days to come to allow more to be blessed by St. Therese.*


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