I read with pride and anticipation the front page story of a national broadsheet on our own Balangay. But I find it funny and perplexing that we pay tribute to our cultural heritage with a sports competition, the dragon boat race. But not bad at all. Though some people say this is pushing the event’s justification too far, or over-acting.
I think it is more appropriate and sensible to honor our past with knowledgeful, proactive and institutionalize, lifestyle practice by all Butuanon residents lead no less by our leaders and officials in the public and private sectors and institutions.
Because a week-long “halo-halo” festival like the Balangay or a sports competition is a “one-shot-deal” primarily to promote escapist entertainment, not on a deeper meaning of heritage and identity.
To cite an example from the experts and critics who asked,” Is this a case of what people want or what people need?” We must choose which is which.
If we Butuanons want to be taken seriously, the we must pursue the road initiated by ancient wisdom-tame the waves and the wind, not make excuses to entertain.
Not long ago, local officials who we all expect to be educated on local history hardly know anything. This is a sad reality and a problem.
We hardly care or convince or interested of our history. There is no communal pride, let’s face it. We are fragmented, half-bake believers and doers of the passive balangay spirit.
We need to change and prove to ourselves and the world we truly know who we are, where our ancestors came from and made of.
Why not instead institutionalize a true cultured Butuan, past, present and future, starting with respected institutions like the city government with its art, culture and tourism bureaus and academic institutions, both public and private the likes of Father Saturnino Urios University and Caraga State University.
Why don’t they spearhead creative and participatory programs focusing on local culture and arts? They can lead the way to nurture and shape the hearts and minds of the whole society.
We should be learning from the experiences of other progressive cities and towns like Tagum and Angono. Tagum is now known as the folk music capital and Angono is acknowledge as home of world-class visual artists.
It is never hard for Butuan to find its rightful niche as the cultural and heritage center.
Unless of course we ourselves believe it and practice it well, and not just for a show. It will never work.