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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 1, 2018

Tacloban's Sangyaw Happyesta Festival A Big Success, Congrats To Mayor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez For A Job Well Done!

WE just returned from Tacloban where we joined the Sangyaw Happyesta Festival and Parade of Lights and watched the concert of Sofia Romualdez at the Sangyawan Concert Grounds (not Balyuan as others reported) last Wednesday. It's all a very successful affair. Many local talents performed as front act for Sofia and the standouts are rap groups like Supremo, La Familia and Deadkey and Denial (who are both lawyers) with a retinue of home grown hiphop talents all rapping in Waray.

Sofia performed with so much confidence. She ruled the stage, singing and dancing with so much contagious energy from one end to another. She really tries to make a connection with the audience and even went down the stage to join the crowd below. The songs she did are “Thinkin’ of You”, “Radar”, “Rush”, “Ocean Views” and the only Tagalog number, “Pikit Mata”. All of them are her own composition.

She says she doesn’t really need an inspiration when she writes her songs. “Sometimes, it comes easy, natatapos agad. But there are songs that takes time before you can finish them. Usually, the melody comes first for me, then the lyrics follow. I intend to write more songs in Tagalog or Taglish para ma-appreciate din daw ng more masa listeners ang music ko.”

We’re told she herself directed her concert. “No, may katulong naman ako. A friend helped me
recruit all the dancers. They’re all Waray. And also sa choreography. Then we kept on rehearsing and rehearsing as I want our dance numbers to be perfect.”

Does she have formal music training? “No, but I took choir singing. I’m now enrolled in MINT College where I’m a music scholar. In college, I dream of taking up music at Berklee College in Boston.”

She writes love songs. But has she even been in love? “No. I’ve never had a boyfriend. I think guys are scared of my mom (Tacloban Mayor Cristina Gonzales Romualdez).”

What’s the most endearing quality of her mom for her? “The fact that she does not make sakal to me. She’s not the overbearing type who’d say do this, don’t do that.”

Cristina butts in at this point. “That’s because I trust her. Kaya I’ll never be a stage mom. But sometimes, masyado lang siyang lakwatsera. Araw-araw kailangang lumalabas. Siguro, yung suitors, intimidated sa dad niya, hindi sa akin.”

She’s obviously a very proud mom, applauding heartily while Sofia was performing on stage. Does it bring back memories of her singing days? “Naku, ang layo ko sa anak ko. I concede na mas magaling siya sa akin. She dances, plays various musical instruments, which I never did. As I was watching her sa show niya, she definitely has gained a lot more confidence. She’s really very talented. She now even helps me sa stylings ng events place namin, Patio Victoria, in Intramuros.”

Through the years, Mayor Cristina has managed to maintain her youthful good looks. What’s her secret? “I’m the type of person who’s cool lang. I don’t want to stress myself. Pag may problema, I still find to relax, to destress. I play badminton then I have massage. I watch what I eat. And Dr. Jean Marquez helps me a lot. She’s a skin specialist who owns DARE,a dermatology, aesthetics and restoration clinic. As a woman, it’s our duty to age gracefully and not mukhang losyang. I’m also blessed to have fast metabolism.”

Will she run again as mayor next year? “You know what, I served as councilor for three terms, nine years yon, then I’m mayor for three years, so bale 12 years lahat. I’m telling my husband (ex-Mayor Alfred Romualdez) to be the one to run again kasi we work naman as a team. I became an effective mayor because of all his help. We’ll soon have a new city market para maalis na all the vendors na nasa bangketa. We’re also implementing stricter rules in our waste segregation for our clean and green program. Five years after Yolanda, I can really say that Tacloban is back in good shape and thanks to my husband for all his efforts as he really made my job easier.”

With her as mayor of Tacloban and Richard Gomez as the mayor of the next city, Ormoc, they show that showbiz people can really be good public servants. “Kami ni Richard and his wife, Lucy, tulungan kami kasi we belong to the same region. We really have more to prove kasi there are those who make lait to us before na, artista lang yan. Ako, I really took it as a challenge to exert more effort and really do my best in my job. And then of course, you always pray to the Lord to guide you as He’s really the one who’s in control.”

It’s obvious that her people love her as they flock to her not only to ask for help but to have selfies. It’s also very noticeable that she’s not fond of expensive things and of putting heavy make up when she appears in public. “Ever since naman, simple lang talaga ko. Hindi ako high maintenance. I don’t indulge in branded bags, clothes, shoes. Maski make up ko, very light lang. I believe that the simpler you are, especially in your lifestyle, the better.”

She’s very happy that the month-long Sangyaw Happyesta Festival they held in June is very successful. The Parade of Lights is really a dazzling spectacle featuring well designed floats and great dancers in colorful costumes and elaborate head gears as contingent after contingent representing schools, barangays and various business establishments did street dancing along the parade’s route, culminating at the Balyuan Grounds where the special guests were Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Cynthia Villar and Imee and Bongbong Marcos. We won’t be surprised if Sangyaw would later on rival other festivals like Sinulog, Dinagyang and Ati-Atihan in the years to come. No wonder Tacloban is now tagged as the Home of the Happiest People in the World as even foreigners are amazed at how resilient they are, bouncing back with a smile in no time at all after the tragedy that was Yolanda.