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Inquirer Northern Luzon
The short, short life of Bintao Vinzons

By Elizabeth Lolarga
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:03:00 01/15/2008

Filed Under: Arts, Culture & Entertainment

MANILA, Philippines ? The cultural scene of Baguio City perks up on the first month of the year with the premiere of the three-act musical ?Bintao? based on the life and death of Wenceslao Q. Vinzons on the 26th.

Vinzons is the man after whom Vinzons Hall, the student center at the University of the Philippines Diliman, and a town in Camarines Norte, formerly Indan, are named.

Playwright Efren M. Yambot, a retired insurance executive and who, like Vinzons, is a member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity, started researching the patriot?s life three years ago and found a paucity of materials. He stumbled on a master?s thesis on Vinzons written by a Far Eastern University student and took it from there.

?Vinzons had a remarkable, fascinating life,? Yambot said. ?He fought the political giants of his time like Manuel L. Quezon. He was a perennial rebel. He was never satisfied with the status quo.?

Yambot said Vinzons was a visionary. ?He founded the Pan-Malayan Association of Students. This was the germ of an idea that became the Maphilindo and later the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. His was a life worth emulating by everyone,? Yambot said.

Student leader

He surmised that Bintao was how the boy pronounced his last name. Bintao stuck in the minds of Bicol folk who elected him governor and then assemblyman until World War II broke out.

Earlier, Vinzons had carved a name for himself as student leader (president of the UP Student Council and editor of the Philippine Collegian with the likes of Salvador P. Lopez, Arturo Tolentino, Arturo Rotor and Maria Kalaw in his staff), orator, writer of poems, essays and short stories and lawyer.

Yambot also admires the way Vinzons, the youngest delegate to the 1934 Constitutional Convention at 23, questioned the proposal to give more powers to the President. Vinzons asked the delegates in a chilling way that foreshadowed the Marcos dictatorship: ?What will stop the President from staying in power for 20 years??

To be dramatized in the musical is the way Vinzons faced the conflicts of his time?with the landowning class (hacenderos), with the political power brokers in Manila who stonewalled his efforts to improve his province because he did not belong to the ruling political party, with the guerrillas, who questioned his humane treatment of prisoners, with the collaborators, Japanese officers, and with himself as a father and husband on one hand and as a guerrilla leader on the other.

The musical, directed by Ferdie Balanag with musical direction by Karlo Marko Altomonte, is a joint production of the University of Baguio and the University of the Cordilleras as they celebrate the centennial of UP, alma mater of the UB and UC founders.

?Bintao? goes on stage Jan. 26 and 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the UC Theater on Governor Pack Road, Baguio City. For ticket reservations, contact Marjorie Lee at 0917-9983-644 or 0929-2786-585.

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