Espina: Cross-cultural shows

Mila C. Espina

THE Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos/University of San Jose-Recoletos’ (CSJ-R/USJ-R) Dramatics and Cultural Ensemble-Amparito L. Lhuillier Educational Foundation scholars—in cooperation with Speechcom, Cebu City and the Department of Tourism 7—participated in many international cultural shows. In the national scene, the group also did some shows in Intramuros for tourism events during the term of Director Dawnie Roa. We also performed in Eastern Visayas.

Our first international performance was in Xiamen, orchestrated by Councilor Joy Young, Ronald Duterte and Sonny Garcia. More came during the mayoral terms of Tomas Osmeña, Alvin Garcia and Vice Mayor Renato Osmeña. Consul Armi Garcia brought our group to Vladivostok, Russia, with the media group led by Nelia Neri. Sonny Garcia also brought 10 English teachers in Xiamen to teach in several schools.

Charles Lim invited our group to perform in Singapore for the inaugural flight of Silkair in Cebu. I brought Leonardo Igloria as our fashion guru. We were again in Singapore for the Chingay Festival with dean Lucy Bonilla as my co-director. Then when we had two simultaneous performances in Russia and Korea, I asked Junjet Primor and Val Sandiego to take care of Jeju, Korea, while Alita Laborte and I did the Vladivostok show. Ambassador Francisco Benedicto was our host in all our cultural trips in Korea, Singapore and Beijing.

Our first performances in Hawaii were upon the invitation of my US International Visitors grantee host in East-West Center. In the University of Hawaii, I took up creative drama with Richard Via, and made connections to perform in the Polynesian Center and Kamehaha school. We were also part of the Cebu delegation to Honolulu for the cross-cultural exchange led by then Vice Mayor Renato Osmeña.

The numerous trips we had in Salinas, San Jose, Dales and San Francisco in California, USA were part of the sister city linkages. Paul Miaga coordinated our US trips. Then, I linked with the Utah Springville Festival where we participated thrice, and then Beijing twice.

In those projects, I was supported by the late Lim Liu, Joseph and Gloria Gaisano, Ambassador Benedicto, WeCare, Ramon Sebastian, Consul Enrique and Helen Benedicto, Amparito Lhuillier, USJ-R, a few Zontians, John Domingo and many others.

Again in Korea, I brought Junjet, Cinbeth and Val. Quartet Sakdap was with me in Nevada and California, so was June Laspiñas for my technical assistance. Rafael Matutina was in Springfield, Utah. In all our performances abroad, Alita was my assistant director.

During those years, I worked with Ed Alejado, Junjet, and took Sakdap and the Sandiego dancers with us in the US and Korea, respectively. The exchange of cultural insights, visits to historic landmarks and student interactions were rich educational experiences for the students and teachers.

I wish I could turn back the hands of time and be with my students again.