By: James U. Sy Jr.
Bacolod City ’s three Chinese Schools shone when they presented various cultural presentations during the opening of the 3rd Bacolaodiat Festival in celebration of the Chinese New Year last February 7, 2008 at the Chopstick Alley, 6th St. , Bacolod City.
The various presentations gave the Bacoleños a glimpse to the depth of Chinese culture, which dates back to thousands of years.
St. John’s Institute (Hua Ming) under Fr. Greg Fuentebella presented the Fan Dance and the Yoyo Dance. The SJI performers were composed of 3rd and 4th Year students, who were sent to Taiwan last summer 2007 to train in these Chinese cultural arts. The exchange study program was made possible through the support of Philippine Tycoon Lucio Tan and the Taiwanese Government. The SJI Dance Troupes were supervised by Sister Luisa Cheng, herself a native of Taiwan .
Bacolod Tay Tung High School (“Universal Cosmopolitan,” Founded 1934) took center stage with its Chinese Dance and Tamborine Dance Troupes. The BTTHS performers were composed of students from different grade and year levels and were trained by Victor Uy and supervised by Head of Student Affairs Rebecca Co in Saturday classes, which expose students to different aspects of the Chinese culture.
Trinity Christian School (a.k.a. Sam It, Founded 1976) performed the Spear Dance, the Flag Dance, and the Peacock Dance. The TCS Spear and Flag Dance performers were trained by a Taiwanese instructor and were later polished by Faculty Guat Ha Villanueva and Cherry Mae Tio while the Peacock Dancers were followed up by Faculty Gertie Cabrera. Principal of Trinity Christian School is Esther Jane Uy.
Members of the TCS Spear Dance and the Flag Dance Team include Ron Jacob Almaiz, Ralph Theodore Catalan, Cole Justin Chan, Tristan Von Daclan, Rose Jan Gensoli, Juan Paolo Kuan, Adrian Joshua Lamata, Miegel Carlo Pelongco, Ryle Asher Sian, Justin Vito Sy, John Klye Treyes, Aquile Verdadero and Alyssa Andrea Amador, Ma. Sofia Claudine Apuada, Erica Rose Chan, Liselle Lo, Kyle Anne Savaris, and Ayber Claris Sysiangco.
Other dances presented during the opening of the Chinese New Year include Hwa Chi, Mongolian Dance, Jie Geng Yao Dance, etc.
Meanwhile, a Grand Evening Lantern Parade moved from SM South Terminal and ending at 6th St . The parade featured the 12 animal signs in the Chinese astrological system in the form of illuminated floats. The 12 animals according to their order are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Cat, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
According to Chinese legend, one day, Buddha felt that the Chinese nation needed some reorganization so on the occasion of the Chinese New Year, he called all the animals for a meeting. Only twelve arrived in the order mentioned above. Buddha honored these 12 animals by endowing each one of them a year of its own.
Each of the 12 animals has 5 manifestations based on the 5 elements of Chinese Cosmology (Water, Earth, Fire, Metal, and Wood). Thus, all 12 animals and their 5 manifestations can be completed within a 60 year period.
The parade also featured the expected Lion and Dragon Dances by the Chamber Volunteer Fire Brigade and Amity respectively, which bring good luck for the Chinese New Year.
The Lion Dance can trace its roots as far back as the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-221 A.D.), by then still known as Chu Shou “Enormous Quadruped.” The Han Shu (History of the Han Dynasty) tells us tells us that Lion Dancing was already popular during the Han Dynasty and was depicted in murals and stone engravings. Lion Dancing was also mentioned during the South and North Dynasties (420-589 A.D.).
Lions are not indigenous to China so the real origin of the Lion Dance is not clear. There are many legends and myths of its origin. One dating from the Sung Dynasty states that a traveler informed the Chinese Emperor of a ferocious beast in a far away land. The Emperor commissioned his artists to do a replica based on the description given and the Lion Dance was born.
The Large Headed Buddha, according to legend, was sent by Buddha Sakyamuni to take care and watch over a Lion who was an adherent of Buddhism but failed in “awakening to the truth.”
The Chinese Dragon is an entirely different animal from the Lion. It is much longer and has a snake like body covered with scales with lizard like arms and legs which end in sharp claws. The dragon is usually seen chasing a pearl shaped like a ball handled by a bearer who leads the Dragon with its intricate movements.
Bacolaodiat is a contraction of Bacolod (derived from Buklod “ Hill ” ) and the Fookienese word Laodiat “Happy Celebration.” It was started by the city of Bacolod last 2005 based on a pattern used in Iloilo City . Bacolaodiat, Inc. was formed to professionalize the celebration.