The way of San Roque: A Tribute

“It is in the celebration of our culture that we’re able to continue the tradition that has been passed down to us, and inculcate to our young people love of country and love for everything that is Filipino.”

Local performers pay homage to San Roque patron saint of the sick.

Culture has a significant influence in a nation’s development and a generation’s progress.

In the town of San Roque, Northern Samar, 16 hours away from Manila, the relevance of arts to the appreciation of culture, most especially in the time of the pandemic, became the inspiration behind the birth of an event to commemorate the celebration of the Feast of San Roque, patron saint of the sick.

The two-hour show, San Roque, A Tribute, was held recently with an ensemble of performing artists, featuring a rondalla, harmonica, saxophone, and piano players.

The show’s highlight was the internationally acclaimed flamenco dancer, Angelito Pangilinan, who ignited the audience’s passion, teasing their temperament and firing up their energy.

Catholic priest Eleno Delizon, who composed the religious hymn for the event, found the show as a worthy offering to San Roque.

“This is the happiest moment of our life. We spend time with the people we love, the places we reach and the people we walk together along our way. These are moments in the life of San Roque that are worthy enough to share and as tribute to him,” Delizon said.

THE UPAO Band rondalla.

Local performers included pianist Ariel Rebadulla, harmonica player Enriquito Galero Sr., saxophonists Eric Quimbo and John Paul Quimbo, ukulele player Erlinda Ronda, the UPAO Band rondalla (Shenna Kristine Mila, Mark Gerald Basista, Elmer Macalma, Jr, Alexander Adrayan, Carl Vincent Palcone and John Michael Caldo).

“As part of our social responsibility and our unique way of giving tribute to San Roque, our Patron and Patron Saint of the Sick, we have picked 16 indigents, seriously ill residents from the 16 barangays of San Roque, as beneficiaries of our financial and medical assistance,” said MaryJane Salomon, creator/director/producer of the benefit dinner show.

“As producer and director of this event, It was a challenge for me to raise the bar higher and elevate the sense of appreciation in our town and in our province with the intention to integrate culture, the arts, and food so we can get involved in the promotion of local tourism in this part of the Philippines,” added Salomon, who is also the founder and CEO of Stratoppo Global, an international business consultancy firm, incorporated and headquartered in Hong Kong. The show was presented by Stratoppo Global.

The socio-cultural religious show highlighted the use of musical instruments, making it the first of its kind in the history of cultural performances in the province of Northern Samar.

“The sinarungsong, a local delicacy, was included in the full course dinner menu to reflect the town’s tradition and custom and to promote food tourism,” Salomon said.

“We made sure to showcase bamboos as part of our stage set up and decoration to support its local production and help local producers in San Roque market, not to mention its symbolism which is strength and flexibility, which is exactly what we need now in these uncertain times. I want to give hope and inspire others. This is my gift to the people of San Roque,” Salomon said.

The organizer lauded the support of the audience, sponsors, government officials from national, provincial and local levels and other private individuals for the success of the recently held tribute show.

Overpouring of gratitude, support

Senate President Pro-Tempore Loren Legarda, who champions culture, the arts and climate change, is all praises of the event. In a video statement that she delivered for the event, the environmentalist and former journalist said she was “truly happy and grateful to celebrate” with the people of San Roque.

“Our way of life has changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Gatherings are restricted, more than ever, to ensuring the safety of everyone around has become a priority. The revival of festivals and gatherings serves as a reminder that against all odds, we are prepared to stand and demonstrate our strength and unity,” Legarda said.

“Commemorating special occasions such as today brings many communities together, and helps deepen our faith and spirituality. I am delighted that our brothers and sisters from San Roque have actively preserved the religious tradition for the current generation to witness and hopefully pass on to the next,” she added.

For her part, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco commended the organizer for bringing the town’s cultural heritage to the forefront.

“It is in the celebration of our culture that we’re able to continue the tradition that has been passed down to us and inculcate to our young people love of country and love for everything that is Filipino,” Frasco said.

“We offer our heartfelt gratitude to the organizer, especially to MaryJane Salomon. This event, showcasing the talents of San Roque and other parts of the province, is a first in Northern Samar,” adds Northern Samar senior provincial board member and chairman of Tourism, Culture and the Arts committee Albert Lucero, who represented Governor Edwin Ongchuan.

Lucero lauded Salomon “for raising the bar” in terms of appreciating and promoting cultural performances and entertainment in the province.

“It was not only a show. It was an offering… May the young generation be inspired to continue such initiative,” said Lorna Castillo, a retired educator and book writer.

“It was an excellent show. I loved every minute of it. I hope we can have more of this in the future,” said Dr. Ninfa Caparroso

-Kam, provincial health officer.

“I enjoyed the show. Thank you for giving San Roque, our beloved town a new kind of entertainment,” commented Monseratt Resuello, a retired parole and probation officer.

“Absolutely amazing, showcasing local talents of the province and a world class performer,” said Dr. Jenny Abalon, retired professor and accreditor.

Carolyn Irinco, of the Philippine Health Center, said Salomon brought “class” to the town and the province.

“The first and best show in Northern Samar,” she said.

“I enjoyed the night. It was a masterpiece from great performers,” added Barbara Lim-Poso, a retired nurse.

Educator Dr. Ester De la Cruz, DepEd district supervisor said, “The show is nice. I love it.”

Evelyn Balanquit, a faculty of University of Eastern Philippines, said the “San Roque, A Tribute” was “a showcase of local talents par excellence, superb dinner-concert-for-a-cause.”

While this is her first time organizing a socio-cultural and religious activity in her hometown of San Roque, Salomon said her trailblazing cultural show will hopefully pave the way for more worthwhile events.

Salomon, who is also a publisher of an international magazine, disclosed that she would be publishing a coffee table book to serve as memorabilia and capture memories for future generations.

“I am positive that in the years to come, we will be having this type of event. We can do more and achieve more for our people not only in San Roque but for the whole of Northern Samar in highlighting and supporting local tourism, igniting more job creation for local residents and at the same time supporting the people in government,” said Salomon.

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