With the popularity of the TV series “Maria Clara at Ibarra”, the grounds of Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) during the Pasinaya Open House Festival served as a venue of showcasing Spanish-influenced dances, songs and costumes.

“Pasinaya” means an inauguration or a grand opening of the many arts and cultural presentations offered by CCP.

Since 2004, Pasinaya also aims to provide a platform for artists and cultural groups from different fields such as music, theater, dance, spoken word, and visual arts. It seeks to showcase talents while nurturing the broadest public and creating new audiences through interactions and performances.

With the “experience-all-you-can, pay-what-you-can” scheme, the largest multi-arts festival in the country once again filled various venues of CCP such as the Front Lawn, Liwasang Kalikasan, Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez and its surroundings, and the parade ground of Vicente Sotto Street.

The theatres inside the CCP were not used due to the closing of the iconic 53-year-old main building in January for a three-year renovation project.

This year’s theme is ‘Piglas Sining” which CCP artistic director Dennis Marasigan explained: “We are breaking away from the notion that the CCP is just the building. We are emphasizing that CCP can be anywhere.”

Pasinaya returned onsite last February 3 to 5, 2023 after being cancelled as a face to face gathering for three years because of the COVID19 pandemic.

At least 3000 artists participated in the 75 performances of 89 groups from Baguio to Tawi-tawi with more than 21000 audience.

I overheard many students that they were amazed by seeing in person the performers in Spanish-influenced costumes primarily due to the tv series “Maria Clara at Ibarra” aired in GMA network.

Directed by Zig Dulay, the series is based on José Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tángere (Touch Me Not, 1887) and El Filibusterismo (The Subversive, 1891).

Both novels were about politically and historically driven fictional Philippines during the Spanish colonial period inspired by Rizal’s living conditions, views, beliefs, and ideologies under the Spanish rule.

Noli centered on the atrocities done by priests during the Spanish era, as well as the abuses that occurred in society when the country were still under Spanish rule. In El Fili, Crisóstomo Ibarra returns for vengeance as Simoun.

Noli described Philippine society with its memorable characters: the melancholic fate of Maria Clara and the insanity of Sisa characterized the country’s pitiful state, which was once beautiful but turned miserable.

El Fili’s dark theme departs dramatically from Noli’s hopeful and romantic atmosphere. It signifies Simoun’s resort to solving his country’s issues through violent means, after his previous attempt in reforming the country’s system made no effect and seemed impossible with the corrupt attitude of the Spaniards toward the Filipinos.

The show features Klay Infantes (Barbie Forteza) who gets transported into the setting of Noli and El Fili and her involvement with the lives of Maria Clara (Julie Anne San Jose) and Crisostomo Ibarra and Simoun (Dennis Trillo).

The Spanish colonization of the Philippines brought many Western influences including religion, social customs, dress, dance and music.

Pasinaya featured Spanish dances like the waltz, mazurka, the Spanish jota, paso doble, and others with costumes that were transformed to suit the climate and the temperament of the people.

Known as the “traje de mestiza” during the Spanish colonial era, the María Clara gown is a type of traditional dress worn by women in the Philippines, named after the mestiza protagonist of Noli and El Fili.

It is an aristocratic version of the baro’t saya and is traditionally made out of piña, the same material used for the barong tagalog.

The Maria Clara gown traditionally consists of four parts: a blouse (baro or camisa), a long skirt (saya), a kerchief worn over the shoulders (pañuelo, fichu, or alampay), and a short rectangular cloth worn over the skirt (the tapis or patadyong).

The novels are part of our student life, along with his other great literary works.

We were required to memorize Mi Ultimo Adios in Spanish classes at the University of the Philippines (UP) which is a poem written by Rizal before his execution by firing squad on December 30, 1896.

The lamp that contained the paper of “MI ULTIMO ADIOS” was given to him by Juliana Gorricho Pardo de Tavera who is the mother of Juan Luna’s wife Paz Pardo de Tavera. Both soon met a tragic end at the hands of Luna in Paris.

Though Juliana’s surname is spelled “GORRICHO”, I am still doing my research that there is a possibility that my surname is related to her.

Lines of the poem state: “I will go where there are no slaves, tyrants or hangmen, Where faith does not kill and where God alone does reign.”

(Peyups is the monicker of University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail info@sapalovelez.com, or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)