Sorsogon town embarks on cultural revival

By Juan Escandor Jr. GUBAT, SORSOGON---Embarking on the cultural revival in one of the oldest settlements in Sorsogon province, the local government of the town of Gubat digs into its oral and written literature and traditions to trace the town’s roots. As an old settlement with archeological finds dating back to the Stone Age and historical accounts from pre-Hispanic to the Japanese Occupation periods, the coastal town of Gubat, Sorsogon province, at the southernmost tip of Luzon Island relished the wealth of its past. “In order to face the present and envision the future we must look back to know the consciousness of the community and put into the ground the development we wanted to pursue,” explains Gubat Mayor Sharon Glipo-Escoto. Glipo-Escoto said the importance of knowing the people’s consciousness would help them know. The local government here has already identified areas in the town where 100-year-old houses and remnants of the almacen (stone-built buying centers of abaca) and old municipal building still stand at the eastern side of the town as the “heritage walk.” She said they foresee the heritage walk area to become a tourist spot and historical reminder to educate students and visitors about the town’s heritage. “When the heritage walk is developed, we expect that cafés and restaurant will flourish in the place and generate employment,” Glipo-Escoto said. Gubat was among the places in the Philippines where galleons made stop over going to Mexico during the Galleon Trade period. Patrick Erestain, municipal administrator, said the initiative to revive the cultural traditions of the town include researching written literature in Bikol-Gubat, which is more akin to the Visayan language of Samar, and literary pieces written by Gubatnon like Delfin Fresnosa. Fresnosa, one of the respected Filipino writers in English in the 1950s to 1960s, wrote the short story “Dark” which is about a blind boy named Leon who pretended to had gained his eyesight after visiting a healer if only to appease his parents’ disappointment. Erestain said the Sabater House, which is century-old, will be developed into a museum and nearby the office of the oldest labor union in Gubat---the Union Obreros de Gubat. “Anything in development is related to the cultural aspect of the community including the perception of a problem which is part of the collective consciousness,” he said. Erestain said they are collaborating with the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) and the College of St. Benilde to help them in the inventory of historical structures. On February 1, the local government held a cultural night dubbed as “Dayaw” or full moon, where literary pieces in Bikol-Gubat were read while original compositions of Gubatnons were sung. Among the pieces written in Gubatnon that were read that night were Eduardo Uy’s story “Ginubat” and his poems “Sa Mapiot na Tinampo san Syudad” and “Mas Mamundo an Matatali na Tawo”, Ben Escoto’s poems “Diin ka sa Gubat” and “Sa Likod san Salbatana”, and Allan Espallardo’s poem “Perlas”. Salvador Españo’s work “Sa Komkom na Ogma” and “Makatol an Okob sin Tungaw” exemplify the Gubat narrative called “lawgaw” which is usually satirical-like and meant to not to be taken literally. An excerpt of Españo’s “Si Gat Silo nan si Bintolan”, the only musical in Gubatnon dialect, was also presented. Gubatnon songs were sang by Dan Rocha, Caliboy Ereño and Sara Em-Buluran.