By Bryan Edulzura
Yes, you must have been to “Suez Canal,” haven’t you? That iconic “barbecuehan” held every night along Montilla Street in Butuan City for decades since the 1980s.
And if you don’t know, it’s the official tambayan (hang-out) of “kinamot lang” mixed with tinolang manok with “walang kamatayon puso” (hanging rice) throw in some soft drink and beer.
Suez Canal is a great democratic leveler as people of all kinds and status, from the “sosyal” to the most ordinary converging in groups and have a good, easy time.
“You have no right to be called a true Butuanon or guest if you have not been there,” proclaims JC, a high-school balikbayan of Agusan High.
Sounds like a cliché but in a way true.
Now, the Suez Canal era will be brought back on stage with a retro dance-musical by Butuan-based theater artists and cultural workers of the 80s and the present.
A brainchild of RJS, a playwright and creative writer and outstanding Butuan artist in creative writing who approached Titing Trinquite, artistic director and award-winning neo-ethnic musician of SINAG Band. It is in the planning stage at the moment.
“I have done the final draft and ready for collective study and mounting,” informs RJS, who has two other original musicals, one on the life of “Twanbaloka,” the Butuan maiden who eloped a Brunei prince in the 14th century. The other a children’s fantasy in Agusan River connected between Mt. Mayapay and Mt. Hilong-Hilong.
Both artists will dangle and share the project-idea to individuals, groups and public and private institutions to produce it for the people of Butuan and Caraga region. This undoubtedly will be a huge original Butuan cultural production in the years to come.
“We will celebrate and honor the happy modern times of Butuan with its vibrant night life experienced by many, even from visitors who remember it, as we all fondly do,” remarks Trinquite, a versatile musical director who has performed and conducted music workshops in Southeast Asia and Europe as exchanged Philippine artist organized by international development agencies and cultural organizations.
What do audience expect from this big musical event? “Oh, you can say a slice of Butuan life, I guess. I want us to remember and cheer the times we best know how we shared with friends,office mates and family. For most of us, there is nothing like it. It’s home,” explains RJS, who pioneered independent film-making in the region.
Asked on the time frame of the project, “We hope to begin by February or May next year then onwards depending on our interested partners. It would be good and ideal if government-based institutions or civic groups will pick it up as all our way of giving back to society,” Trinquite believes.
As many people agree, it is a worthy and proud artistic endeavor from Butuan and Caraga.
Certainly a rare must-see event to watch.
Photo courtesy of Jonnie Sacote