Today, it is an unknown fact that the simple plan to reorganize the dance troupe of Foundation University led to a greater and lasting impact for the cultural life not only for the institution but also for the whole Province of Negros Oriental.
The founding of Buglasan Festival inside Foundation University in May of 1980 was prompted by several factors aside from being the cradle and hub of cultural workers during the time. These cultural movers – Bobby Villasis, the late Prudencio “Prudi” Sirilan, Bobby Café, Dr. Peter Dayot, and Daniel M. Delfin, who back then were all connected with the University also became the essential moving force for the festival’s inception.
“In May of 1980, Foundation University treated Negros Oriental to a cultural re-awakening. Buglasan, the first Negros Oriental Folk Arts festival, was an attempt to offer the underlying pathos of the Negrenses’ celebration of life through festivals. The meaning was brought home when the festival turned out a milieu of original folk dances, songs, recipes, and entertainment from all areas of the province. These bespoke the Negrense way of life.” (pg. 97, Handuraw, First Fifty Years of Foundation University)
Reorganizing the Dance Troupe
The unplanned cultural renaissance began when former University Cultural Officer Bobby Flores Villasis felt the need to reorganize the University’s dance troupe to highlight and honor the nationalistic vision and identity of FU’s founder, Dr. Vicente G. Sinco.
But the major problem was to hire an able choreographer and trainer for the dance troupe. And with this concern, FU President Marcelino Maxino granted his approval on the said noble venture. Immediately, Villasis sent a telegram to Bayanihan Dance Company member, Loury Urtula-Lacson, the daughter of Bayanihan’s founder, Lucresia Reyes-Urtula.
Surprisingly, Lacson arrived at FU one afternoon of 1979 and gave everyone a shock thinking of the compensation to be afforded for an esteemed artist in dance, who was able to marry a local of Basay, Negros Oriental.
The Invitation Letter
While doing her work as choreographer and trainer of the University’s Dance Troupe, Lacson received an invitation letter to the 1st Philippine Folk Arts Festival in Manila wherein every province must be presented through a festival.
The said invitation paved the way for the local cultural movers to organize a festival for the Province of Negros Oriental. They named Negros Oriental’s prime fiesta – Buglasan Festival of Festivals since it would display a collection of the festivals from all over the province.
The festival’s name – Buglasan was coined from the suggestion of Villasis’ grandmother Engracia Celis-Torillo who mentioned about the old name of Negros Island which was “Buglas” – referring to a type of weed that grows up to three feet high and at present, is called “bugang.”
Buglasan Festival of Festivals, as of the present time, is still true to what it has been conceptualized by the prime movers – a one stop shop and show window of Negros Oriental’s culture, history and the arts.
Renaming the Dance Troupe
In 1994, as one of Buglasan’s prime movers – Daniel “Tingting” Delfin assumed the position as choreographer, the dance troupe’s name was changed to “Buglasayaw.”
“Buglasayaw is a combination of words, “buglas“ meaning “grass” and “sayaw” meaning “dance”. Literally, the name means “grass dance”. True to its meaning, Buglasayaw refers to the dancing grasses that profusely grew in this land. As the name chosen for FU Dance Troupe, it represents the University’s commitment to the community culture at the grassroots level.” (pg. 133, Handuraw, First Fifty Years of Foundation University)
Unexpectedly, the reorganization of the cultural group now called Buglasayaw Dance Troupe made a lasting impact not only to the cultural life of the University but as well as to the whole province. The action led to the renaissance of arts and culture not only inside Foundation University’s premises but also for the Province of Negros Oriental.
Celebrating the Legacy of Buglasayaw Dance Troupe
Every Buglasan season and every performance staged by the Buglasayaw Dance Troupe, calls for a celebration for the legacy of the movers, who sparked the renaissance of culture and the arts in Negros Oriental, that are made alive up until today. Every time the “Palihi” is performed by the dance troupe to signify the beginning of a new endeavor, the old narratives of Buglasan’s inception are revived and shared among the community.
It cannot be denied that the intertwined history of Buglasan and Buglasayaw Dance Troupe in relation to Foundation University are signs of the local cultural movement in the past, worthy to be celebrated and remembered at every installment of Negros Oriental’s prime fiesta. (Klein F. Emperado, FU Content Manager)