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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

entry arrow2:22 AM | How I Get Reminded That Being in Dumaguete is Not So Bad

There is a school of thought that tells you that in order for anyone to get the best out of life, one must leave the village for the big city. Sometimes, over drink or dinner, my friend, the photographer John Stevenson, tells me that I should become a New Yorker. "It has the best of all worlds," he told me just last Wednesday, "the best theater, the best orchestras, the best dance companies, the best restaurants... Everything." Well, I suppose he is right. Unfortunately, I'm not a New Yorker, nor do I see my fortunes changing soon that I should cross the big pond and leave Pinas behind. There is, of course, the local equivalent of such philosophy: that to be in Manila is to enjoy the best of the Philippines, particularly "high" culture, and even more splendidly, the "low" variety. I suppose that this is right and true -- and there are some days and nights when I question the fact that I chose to stay in Dumaguete, a small town, if you really think about it.

But then there are also the many days of wonder that make me pause: for a small city, Dumaguete sure can be a lighting rod for the best of Philippine culture. The past few days alone are testament to this. Maria Ressa, among many other journalism luminaries, came and went, to deliver a lecture on Philippine television journalism in Silliman. I didn't catch that lecture (because I had no idea she was around), nor did I catch the dinner invitation hosting filmmaker Nick Deocampo, director of such documentary classics like Oliver. I was busy cleaning my pad, and I couldn't just leave the house is such disarray. (Imagine that.) Today, after school, I bumped into filmmaker Emman de la Cruz, who was in town to screen Endo, courtesy of Star Cinema. (This is the first time that Endo has been screened outside of Manila.) Michiko Yamamoto was with him, and we hatched the idea of bringing Cinemalaya to Dumaguete this coming February. Then Tanghalang Pilipino's Dennis Marasigan dropped by. We're all preparing for Saturday's staging of Welcome to IntelStar and Geegee at Waterina at the Luce Auditorium. That show will conflict with the Kundirana concert somewhere else in the city. The next day, David Pomeranz comes to town to serenade the old foggies, and then later Sarah Geronimo and Mark Bautista will serenade the rest of the masa. On November 20, John lectures on black and white photography, and on November 27, artist Kitty Taniguchi will give a slide show and lecture on her works. Violinist Jay Cayuca drops in on December 1 to give a concert, to be followed by lectures from artists Jutze Pamate, Razceljan Salvarita, and Sharon Dadang-Rafols. Tenor Ramon Acoymo comes in January, and Douglas Nierras will bring Powerdance later that month. Actor's Actor brings in Pinky Amador and Bart Guingona to star in A.R. Gurney's Love Letters, in time for the Valentine season, and poet Myrna Peña-Reyes gives a lecture on February. In March, the U.P. Guitar Orchestra will give a concert. Hopefully, things push through for Ricky Davao and Michael de Mesa to reprise their roles in Art in the next cultural season, and for Cherie Gil to do Master Class as well. A full slate in Dumaguete? You betcha. And that's barely touching the surface.

And because the city is so small, all of these become intimate happenings, where the artists become part of the fabric of things. That's when I think: it's good to be in Dumaguete.

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