THE family of the late Cebuano playwright, journalist, composer and director Pio Abelgas Kabahar made a huge donation of his remaining manuscripts and musical score sheets of his plays to the University of San Carlos (USC) Cebuano Studies Center (CSC).
The donation of special collection, led by his grandson Piux Llamoso Kabahar, his wife Viveca and their daughter Mae Charisse Kabahar, was inspired by the family’s shared love of Cebuano culture and heritage.
The turnover ceremony was held at the Josef Baumgartner Building of the USC Talamban campus on May 28, 2021.
University president Fr. Narciso Cellan, SVD, received the collection together with director of libraries Maxie Doreen Cabarron and CSC director Dr. Hope Sabanpan-Yu.
The manuscripts and memorabilia were donated to the center for safekeeping so that future generations of Filipinos, scholars and students of Cebuano culture are able to access and learn about the inspiring legacy of Pio Kabahar.
According to Piux: “My grandfather was a great man and visionary who understood the power of language in shaping cultural identity and owning our people’s narrative. His contributions to Cebuano and Filipino culture were significant, especially during the pre-war and post-colonial era when the Philippines was a young republic and was only beginning to emerge from the shadows of Spain and the United States to forge its own national identity.”
Describing the collection, Mae Charisse said: “Lolo Pio was a pioneer who used popular culture and entertainment through his plays, zarzuelas and music to share stories about Sugbuanon life and society. He was a proud Bisaya who showed the spirit, resilience, humanity, heart and humor of the Cebuano people through his characters and creations. His early contributions to Cebuano and Filipino history live through a language that is spoken by more than 19 million Filipinos in many parts of our country today.”
The special collection of the CSC is what distinguishes it from a mere archive as it is developed around niche interest and grounded in localized expertise. It is also part of the center’s ongoing drive to preserve and promote Cebuano heritage and culture.