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Butuan’s ace theater artist comes home

By Ramon Jorge Sarabosing

Richard Dian Vilar is a director, playwright, actor, choreographer, set and costume designer, creative lecturer/storyteller, even a museum curator. He is acknowledged not only in Mindanao but internationally.

Vilar is currently home (in Butuan) to mount an original Butuan-inspired dance-musical, “Soog Butuan” to be shown August 2 at the FSUU gym.

Though based in Davao City, Vilar is a proud Butuanon Manobo who grew up in the city, studied in Butuan Central and Agusan National High School,consistently with honors and interest in the arts. (In college, he went to Mindanao State University, where he trained as actor, director with Sining Kambayaoka, the resident theater company of MSU.)

In the late 90’s, he co-founded Kaliwat Theater Collective, a community-based theater that became the first professional theater/cultural institution in Mindanao. He served as associate director/choreographer to Nestor Horfilla (who became NCCA commisioner).

Prominent Mindanaoans like Joey Ayala, Lolita Carbon (of Asin), Bayang Barrios, Grace Nono and Popong Landero were guests artists.

Vilar is one of the few select ATOR’s- artist, trainer, organizer, researcher-a calling members of the progressive Mindanao theater movement fondly refer colleagues who pursued the passion to the full.

Being a freelance artist, Vilar’s projects take him to any region, cities,towns and even other countries the whole year-round.

The current years and the next, Vilar is a regular featured artist-storyteller in the International Storytelling Festival in Thailand, Vietnam and India.

He joined leading theater artists-storytellers all over the world. It is organized by a network of universities in Asia.

Vilar is not new to the international stage, both as an individual guest artist or with Kaliwat, having performed, conduct workshops and interactions at universities and communities in Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, Canada (courtesy of international development institutions, like OXFAM, Helvitas).

At the home front, he is involved as cultural/environmental creative consultant to non-government organizations, local government units, the academe and people’s organizations.

One of his memorable creative output is on the life of the people of Agusan Marsh.

“I see myself as artist. I guess this is my contribution to society. I also see myself as educator, the arts being my tool, the audience my inspiration of learning and involvement,” he declares.

As an artist, colleague and friend (with master’s degree in Anthropolgy), he remains humble and low profile, never one with the attitude of self-importance, yet constantly funny and down to earth. A mark of a true homegrown world-class artist.

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