I have a secret to tell, and this has to do with why Tangub City’s Sinanduloy Cultural Dance Troupe always makes raves and waves and wins the Grand Parade in the Annual Sinulog Festival. (Well, last year was a kind of fluke but it had nothing to do with the failure of this formula.)
Nestor Jardin, former president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and a 20-year veteran judge of the Sinulog, was quoted in the news early this week reminding anyone intending to win in the Sinulog to be original and not copy the winning entries of the previous year. This is easier said than done given the limits of human creativity and of the criteria imposed on participating dance companies.
And yet despite such limitations, Sinanduloy has always made it to the top year after year. What gives?
I believe the secret behind this often unparalleled success has to do with the presence of the troupe’s artistic director, Pascual Emelio Sanchez Pascual, who would rather be called Jojin most probably because of the way his father played around with his full name. What is in Jojin that is not with the other dance troupes’ directors?
Before I answer that question, it may be good to look at what Sinanduloy has that other dance troupes may not have: Good food? Spacious accommodations? Multi-million peso budget? Supportive local government officials? Disciplined and committed dancers?
The answer: None of the above. I do not think these are things that only Sinanduloy has. All dance troupes who join the Sinulog have to eat better food, be housed in acceptable quarters, be supported with at least a million pesos in budget and have to be in the good graces of the local government officials. I know of no participating troupe that does not have any of these.
In other words, Sinanduloy is in many respects quite like all other dance troupes that join the Sinulog. But all the others do not have a Jojin Pascual. So what is there in Jojin that makes him a formula for success for Sinanduloy?
It is not just his experience as a member of a dance troupe during his student days. It is his professional background, I believe, that has helped Sinanduloy win the nod of the jury time and again. For Jojin holds a master’s degree in history. In fact, he was a long-time chair of the Department of History at the University of San Carlos before he finally left it (and his hometown of Mandaue City) to move, hopefully just temporarily, to Tangub City and devote time to his passion: dance and education. (There he also administers, if I am not mistaken, the Tangub City College.)
Combine experience with cerebral expertise and you have a formula for success. You see, unlike most nationally-acclaimed festivals, the Sinulog Grand Parade, especially its Sinulog-based category, is backed up by a long historical dance tradition that an artistic director had better take to heart. And a historian like Jojin is at the rightmost place to combine historical knowledge and the historian’s critical eye for accuracy that makes for the successful rendition that is Sinanduloy.
It is therefore no wonder that this dance troupe from a city many of whose residents root their ancestry in Cebu does not fail to impress. So, the next time all you directors and choreographers want to win the Sinulog, why not call on local historians (I am not one, by the way), to help inspire your creativity?