Posted by: Ruel Doce | February 17, 2010

Tourism, the means; culture, the end: A Capiz Experience

by Ruel G. Doce

Mary was prepared for the mission not primarily hers through the power of the Divine. The Jewish people who are guided by the Torah earnestly awaited for a political liberator, yet, Jesus, her son, came to be more that what they expected – He rescued all humankind from the slavery of sin. Mary was then immaculately conceived by St. Ann for her son would be the Son of God.

The Province of Capiz entrusted itself to the intercession and care of the Immaculate Conception, its patroness. Today, a lot of miracles, usually attributes of a mother or a mother and child relationship, are accredited to her.

The belief of power-above-human-among-men is embedded in Filipino psyche. During the Philippine Revolution, illuminati’s were regarded as prophets or seers. Rizal is a dreamer of dreams foretelling the future and his skill in the sciences indicated his possession of magical powers, and this view of Rizal as a magus survived in the cult in a strange sect in Laguna which worships him as a kind of supernatural being: a god of Mt. Makiling; General Aguinaldo tamed the cafre that haunted Kawit seashore and put it into guarding the bridge beside his house.

Capiz is widely described as a place “where myth and legend merged” because we, Capisnons, are highly transcendental; and, we, consciously or not, believe that there’s a power of someone “unseen” that can manipulate our lives. Our tourist destinations, such as caves, islets and old structures, as well as our rituals during festivals are shrouded with this kind of belief: that they are owned or “protected” either by giant, cafre, or kamâ-kamâ.

Our Sinadya sa Halaran Festival was tactically merged. Whatever the grounds are, the festivity is now doing its magic because the “Virgin of the Province” is with us. With some innovations introduced this year which are all based on our concrete life experiences (which means, more cultural!), it is now worthy to be called “our” celebration. Capisnons are truly masinadyahon because we halad or share them with others; our genuine trait.

In 2008, Capiz Provincial Tourism Office had initiated programs, projects and activities that while promoting the Capiz as the “Eco-Cultural Tourism Hub in Central Philippines,” would also test the temperature of the tourism and cultural climate of the Province as gauge for future programs.

On the same year, some Capisnon optimistic “movers” pooled themselves together and formed the Capiz Visitors and Convention Bureau (CVCB) and the Organization of Tourism Officers of Capiz (OTOC). Together with other non-government sectors, they are amongst Provincial Government’s potent partners.

During the November 17 – 19, 2008 Global Peace Festival-Visayas, the transcendental nature of Capiz surfaced significantly, and it clarified and reinforced Tourism Office’s development formula – tourism is the means, culture is the end. Culture manifested to be both a liberating and limiting force as it contains our principal assumptions about life. Any development plans and effort should therefore be hinged upon Capisnon’s common unwritten norms, skills, knowledge, attitudes and values as they order and give meaning to our behavior, thought and feeling.

However, the hosted festival had also dramatically led us to reexamine our spiritual and social maturity. In this inevitable trend of globalization and modern means of getting information, we cannot shun ourselves away from the world but rather have skill to digest these gathered informations and turn them into facts; a guiding dictum “wrong information, wrong decision.”

The same insight was presented by the first ati cultural festival in Capiz which was held at Mt. Tag-ao, Tamulalod, Dumarao on October 29, 2008. “Hirinugyaw Ke Meme Atae/Ati” had made a very clear illustration of the influential gravitation toward cultural convergence. The pressing question “what do ‘preservation of culture” means in this context?” has bombarded the Tourism Office, being afraid that maybe, soon, this beautiful culture would just be as memories in stories and books.

During the festival, it’s a pity to hear from a tribal leader commenting that to speak their own dialect is just for a “show” and to wear their ethnic dress is to put on a “costume.” Their diets have also become catholic and they are now living in types of architecture that are distinct to their culture. Many of them are even married to somebody outside their tribe. It is now not easy to distinguish ethnicity for almost everything has evolved.

Having in mind of these intrusions by other cultures, the Provincial Tourism Office had conducted its three-month long SAOT CAPIZ, the First Dance Season in Western Visayas from September 27 to December 30, 2008. It’s amazing that it makes us proud to know that we have the largest number of folk dances in Western Visayas and such we can claim to be the region’s Folk Dance Capital. However, the influence of western culture to our dance forms is every inevitable. With the twelve participating dance troupes from the municipalities and schools, we realized that salvaging this beautiful and rich artistic tradition asks for innovative and more serious programs.

In partnership with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), on April 30 to May 4, Batang Sining, an artistic workshop for children was held in the Province. While in their inquisitive age, participants were exposed to intuitive, healing, social and moral components and truly characteristics of Philippine arts. Furthermore, their creative imaginations were mainstreamed to wholesome and more productive ends.

Knowing our culture, we may not be amazed on how we chose names for our festivals. They’re all communal celebrations of the locality’s key virtue; sinadya sa halaran, patabang, hil-o-hanay, caguyuman, linga-anay, tagbuan, and others. To enhance more the celebrations, the Festival Management Workshop was conducted with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) on July 30 to August 1.

Upon such condition of the province, the tourism office employed more rigorous balanced resource management. Tourism and cultural inventory are continuously undertaken in the city and municipalities. Capability building program is ongoing among tourism officers, tourism frontliners and tourism office’s staff. The Provincial Government strengthened the core-base of the tourism programs with its Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 143-s-2008 declaring Last Week of September of every year as Provincial Tourism Week and Resolution No. 014-s-2008 declaring the month of February of every year as National Arts Month.

The pinnacle of our human, cultural, historical and ecological assets was celebrated through April 15’s CAPIZtahan which is a commemoration of the foundation day of the civil government of Capiz. In the spirit of the legacy of our forefathers who guided and chartered the Province, no true-bloodied Capiznon can find excuse of not celebrating or participating in this revered event.

The Provincial Tourism Office desires that tourism development indicators would not just rest on how many taxis or tourism facilities are in operation in our Province. What is more important is our deep experience of culture; on how proud are we to be called Capisnons, on this sense of place that we imbibe with tourists, and on how this pride be translated into concrete actions towards sustainable development.

Anyway, in the Bible, only when an angel appeared to Mary announcing that she will conceive the Son of God that she heard her role in salvation history. In her lifetime, she didn’t witnessed how the life and words of her son influenced and touched peoples’ lives.

Cultural work will always be a process and only history will judge our worth.


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