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2002 – Vamos a Belen 2002

PerformanceVamos a Belen 2002
Date and TimeDec 28, 2002 – 08:00 PM
Dec 29, 2002 – 03:00 PM
VenueCultural Center of the Philippines
TheaterTanghalang Nicanor Abelardo
TypeSeason Production

TATLONG HARI – To immortalize the visit of the three kings and celebrate a fiesta, the towm of Mabitak chooses three twelve year old boys to represent the kings. Three prominent ladies bringing images of the kings lead the boys in horseback.

NIÑOS INOCENTES – True to the promise of King Herod to get at the child Jesus, he orders all newborn males up to two years old massacred still reigns supreme every 28″ day of December, frightening children and demanding ransom for the Christ child whom be kidnapped from church.


Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo
(CCP Main Theatre)
December 28, 2002 8PM December 29, 2002 3PM

The Cultural Center of the Philippines is proud to present the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group (ROFG) in its annual Yuletide treat “Vamos a Belen!”, a dance spectacle showcasing Philippine Christmas traditions and customs.

In the past 30 years, the ROFG has made an indelible mark in the world of dance through the presentation of authentic dances of more than fifty (50) ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines. Through “Vamos a Belen!”, the ROFG keeps alive many Filipino Christmas customs and traditions, many of which are unique to a place or region. True to its mission of preservation and enhancement of Philippine dance and music traditions, ROFG’s production of “Vamos a Belen!” has become a tradition itself. Started in 1997, the ROFG has become very much part of the CCP’s yearly Christmas celebration. “Vamos a Belen!”, is a two-hour production depicting a collection of “pastores” traditions of the different regions. “Pastores” is a retelling of the Story of the Nativity and other Filipino beliefs and practices related to Christmas.

ROFG’s “Vamos a Belen!” will feature the “pastores” group of Libagon, Southern Leyte. Led by octogenarian Ms. Praxedes Jimenes and composed of members belonging to her generation, this venerable group of seniors will present to the audience their local version of a tradition which was last seen in Libagon before the Japanese occupation. This version is specially re-staged for the CCP by Ms. Jimenes.

Another highlight of this year’s production will be the suite of Aeta traditional songs and dances to be performed by the Aetas of Pampanga. The ROFG has provided the Aetas of Pampanga not only with artistic support but also with funding for the construction of a tribal hut, and scholarship programs. Likewise, Children from the Smokey Mountain, known as the “Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig” and students from various universities and colleges will also perform with the ROFG.
We congratulate the ROFG and all those performing tonight for helping keep alive, old and forgotten Filipino Christmas traditions and for giving us the opportunity to witness and celebrate these traditions.
“Maligayang Pasko and Manigong Bagong Taon!”




The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is delighted to be a part of this year’s Vamos a Belen!

For several Christmases now, the Ramon A. Obusan Folkloric Group (ROFG) has not failed to share with us their joy in the coming of this blessed season as well as their knowledge in our culture and the arts. Through Vamos a Belen!, they have untiringly imparted to us the traditions of Philippine Christmas – from the pastores of Pampanga to the banana belen traditions of Negros Oriental as well as the influences of the West through rigodon, Christmas tree, and Santa Claus. And for this, the NCCA is very grateful.

As the nation’s premier agency tasked to promote cultural understanding, we believe that no effort is deemed great or small as long as it is for the preservation and promotion of our cultural heritage.
To the ROFG and other participants of Vamos a Belen!, may you remain steadfast in your goals of promoting our culture and the arts.

Maligayang Pasko at Masaganang Bagong Taon sa inyong lahat!


Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group

Sana may maipamana tayong mga magagandang kaugalian sa susunod na saling -lahi. Sana ang mga magagandang kaugaliang Pamasko lalong-lalo na ang mga ibat-ibang pastores ay nandidiyan pa upang malugod nating maipasa sa ating mga anak!

Maligayang Pasko at Mapayapang Bagong Taon!

Choreographer, dancer, scholar and researcher. The son of Praxedes Obusan, a physician, and Josefina Arevalo, a music teacher, he went to the University of the Philippines for degrees in fisheries technology and cultural anthropology. He taught for several years at the Aklan National School of Fisheries, then became a dancer, performer and researcher of the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company from 1964 to 1972.

In 1971 he founded the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, and has since choreographed and directed for some 65 dance groups and over 100 productions nationwide – dance, pageants, festivals, special events, competitions, exhibits, television, movies and video-films.

His production include the full length presentations, notable are Kayaw ’68 and Kayaw ’74, Maynila – Isang Dakilang kasaysayan (Manila – Its Noble Story), Kaamulan (Gathering), Noon Po Sa Amin (The Way it Was), Sayaw – Hadog ng Pilipino sa Mundo (Dance – Filipino’s Gift to the World), Ritwal (Ritual), Under the ASEAN Sky, Glimpses of ASEAN, Philippine Festivals, Tausug Tapestry and Rare and Unpublished Dances of the Philippines series. He has collaborated in various film projects, among them American Ninja, Banawe, Hubad na Gubat (Naked Forest), the King and the Emperor, Msligayang Pasko (merry Christmas), Noli Me Tangere, Waywaya and Rizal. His own group has joined international festivals and expositions on over 30 countries since 1974. It has also toured the Philippines extensively.

Through the years, Ramon Obusan has studied and documented the indigenous culture of Philippine ethnic groups from north to south, focusing on rites and traditions. Proof of these life work of over three decades is a compilation of over 200 audio and video-documentation of his researches as well as a collection of museum artifacts. He has also done research on the Polynesian culture of Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand, and given lectures, demonstrations and workshops worldwide. Obusan tries to keep his folk dance presentations authentic by using actual movement patterns, costumes and music even as dances go on-stage.

Two documentaries he directed for the CCP Tuklas Sining series won awards in France: grand prize, Prix de Reportage for Sayaw, 1990, and Special Mention in Russia, Grand Prix International Video-Dance, 1992, for Philippine Ethnic Dance. A consultant for UNESCO, he has been cited for his achievements in research, conferences, workshops and presentations. He was given the Patnubay ng Kalinangan award by the City of Manila in 1992 and the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining Sayaw in 1993.

He has actively worked as a member of the Executive Committee of the Philippine Folk Dance Society, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts since 1987. He was consultant and co-director of the 1998 Centennial Parade Celebration. He was co-curator and program director of Pahiyas: A Philippine Folk Festival, the Philippine participation to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C., U.S.A. in July 1998. In 1999, he was one of the 100 artist awarded in the CCP Centennial Honors for the arts.


The Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group (ROFG) celebrates its 30 years of preservation and perpetuation of Philippine traditions with special emphasis on music and dance.

Founded in 1972, the ROFG started as a fledging folk dance company, composed of some thirty performers. Leaning on the vast amount of data and artifacts that he has accumulated while he was doing researches, Ramon A. Obusan thought of starting a dance company that will mirror the traditional culture of the Filipinos through dance and music.

For thirty years, the ROFG has created a niche in the world of dance as forerunner of Philippine folk dance performed closest to the original. Boasting of over a thousand performances in the Philippines and abroad, the ROFG is one of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ leading resident companies since 1986.

Under the able leadership of its’ founder and Artistic Director, Choreographer and Researcher – Ramon A. Obusan, it was so far gone on three successful European tours in 13 countries including Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, Greece, Italy, Spain and Austria in 1987, 1990 and 1993

In the 8th Hong Kong Festival of Asian Arts 1983 critics showered the ROFG with praises describing it as “the stuff an arts festival should be made of”. Three years later in the 1986 Expo in Canada, its 21 shows ended in 21 standing ovations. In 1992, the group was the first Filipino performing artist to receive resounding applause and standing ovations for all its performances in Japan under the auspices of Min-On. The group had its first extensive American Tour in 1994 visiting 16 states capped with a proclamation of February 8 as ROFG Day in Cleveland, Ohio.

In Asia, the group represented the Philippines in various dance festivals and conferences as cultural ambassadors. Along with this, Mr. Obusan was chosen as Artistic Director of the first Joint ASEAN Performing Troupe ‘in 1991 and the ROFG as the official Philippine representative. In 1994, it was the only Filipino company asked to perform for six months at the ASEAN Village in Sentosa, Singapore performing not only Philippine dances but dances of other Asian countries as well. In 1995, the ROFG helped raise HK 1.5M for OCW’s in Hong Kong when they performed for a fund-raising event sponsored by the Hong Kong Bayanihan Trust.

April and May 1996 saw the group in Paris, Turkey, Greece and Sweden for a series of performances under the auspices of the Department of Tourism. In May 1998, the company performed at the Lisboa Exposition ’98 in Portugal as part of the Philippine Centennial Celebration and in 1999 the group returned to Japan for the Philippine Independence Day celebration through the invitation of the Embassy. In the year 2000, the company received the ASEAN Travel Award for Cultural Preservation in the tourism congress in Thailand besting other contenders. In 2001, the company traveled to South Korea, London, U.S.A., and Baghdad, Iraq for a series of special performances. It was also awarded the Sining Kalinangan Award of the City of Manila as outstanding folkdance company in the same year.
2002 year-ender saw the ROFG in the Prince Hotel’s Philippine Food Festival in Hong Kong for three successful days. Another 3 weeks will be spent in Quatar’s First Winter Festival.

Through steep international recognition, the ROFG has never forgotten the people who are the very source of its pride. For the past two decades it has documented and performed the rituals of more than 50 ethnolinguistic groups in the country. With more than twenty outstanding full-length Filipino dance works, among which are the memorable suites from the Cordillera, Bagobo, T’boli, Tausug, Maranao, the Aeta and the Talaandig among others – the ROFG has served to highlight the authenticity of the movements and costumes of these people.

Today, the ROFG humbly celebrates 30 years of fruitful existence and service to the Filipino people. To the ROFG, there is no stopping in the pursuit of recording and staging of the fast fading Filipino traditions.

Researched and recorded by:
Ramon A. Obusan

PILAR, Sorsogon -Used to be an all young girls activity, wives of government officials and prominent citizen decided to take over in the later years of the 90’s.

CAMALIG, Albay – No doubt about the pride of this group of thier pastores tradition. In fact they have been dancing and singing to no less than the violin music of Dr. Mauro Nieva and his stringed band since their early teens.

LAURENTE, Eastern Samar – Part of the Laurente pastores pageant is the “panarit which literally means to drive away. Mary and Joseph were shooed away by innkeepers to a stable.

MALILIPOT, Albay – Proving that they are still the vibrant and colorful spring chickens they are, these grandmothers who work on abaca products all year long, spend December by caroling

MERCEDES, Eastern Samar – Curtains, faded blankets, pieces of textile and some amount of ingenuity make up for the costumes of the main personages of the manger. This pastores, like that of neighboring barrios no longer remember when it was first staged.

SIATON, Datag Negros Oriental – Having no other image except for a six-inch statue of the Nazareno in their small chapel, the Inagta group go a-caroling the pastores way Centered on their Nazareno image instead of a Sto. Niño. Consequently verses, songs of praise and prayers all refer to the Nazareno.

TAFT, Eastern Samar – “We have started our pastores season”, so these ladies recall of thier last performance, “days before bombs fell to announce the start of the second World War”

LIBAGON, Southern Leyte -They are the survivors of a once b teeners, in the 30’s all twelve were under the tutelage of Mr. Praxedes Jimenez. Today they are still at it. Next stop will be the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ main theatre.

MERCEDES, Eastern Samar – Crepe paper skirts, multi – stripped plastic sack blouses make-do for the costumes of a hundred-year-old, pastores handed down to these young girls by their grandmothers.

TOLOSA, Leyte – Different because of the many verses recited, this pastores is one of the more popular versions still very much in demand in small villages of Northern and Central Leyte. How a devil got into the nativity scene is everyone’s guess. Leave it to the Filipino to innovate.

TALISAY, Libagon, Southern Leyte – Without losing an ounce of fervor and vigor despite years of pastores, six ladies now in their 60’s, sing, sway and recite verses of praise to the Messiah with ease and assurance.

TALISAY, Camarines Norte – Undoubtedly a direct export from the culture-rich Teoteuacan region of Mexico, replete with the “china poblana” skirts, papier-mâché horses and the star of David. Nostalgia for mother Mexico must have driven the sailors from the galleons to teach the locals a part of their pascua celebration.

BUNGIAWON, Oas Albay – How very innovative, All fifteen lovely girls ingenuously transformed bright colored plastic bags into skirts and arches. Is this goodbye to the traditional pastores dress?

BULAN, Sorsogon – To have that “authentic” shepherd-look of Bethlehem, children don jute sack getups, cloaks and leggings. Along the way the Sorsogueños decided to add the Mexican sheep pinata got into the scene.

BONTOK, Southern Leyte – If tradition is to be followed each Christmas Mass in Bontok town must be highlighted by the Christmas story including the pastores.

ORBOS, Southern Leyte – Many parts of this pastores are similar to other pastores versions found in Leyte. The only difference is the presence of a “creature” half – devil, half – man and half – monkey who way-lays the shepherds on their way to the manger. An angel comes to the rescue.

The band – This picture is the sign of the times. Usually a pastores band has eight to twelve members, but age have caught up with most of the mucisians bringing the number down to two or three. When the musicians go so would the pastores.


RIGODON ROYALE (Zamboangita, Negros Oriental)
MAYTINIS (Kawit, Cavite and Bakong, Negros Oriental)
(lubog, Albay)
(Oas, Albay)
HARPA (Camalaniugan, Cagayan)
(Sanches Mira, Cagayan)
PASTORES TALISAY (Talisay, Camarines Norte)
TATLONG HARI (Mabitak, Laguna)
NINOS INOCENTES (Maluko, Ibajay, Aklan)
PASTORES TALISAY (Libagon, Southern Leyte)
Guest artist
(Bundok Pinatubo)
Guest artist


What was it like to celebrate Christmas a century ago? Imagine palatial homes who’s salas open to grand balls, guests and hosts chatter with friends and acquaintances, music rings and loud laughter, food-laden table invite, and the young ogle at decorations and blinking lights.

Christmas wonderment leaves everyone caught in its magical weave swirl in euphoria.

MAYTINIS Also Panunuluyan (Tagalog), Panarit (Waray), Posada (Waray), Kagharong (Bicol) and Daigon

(Bisaya). The Christmas story retold and interpreted from versions found all over the Philippines,

Ang panunuluyan (Maria and Joseph and the innkeepers).

Ang awit ng mga anghel (Angel on high).

ANG NIÑO AT ANG HERMANA – Glorious entry of the Child Redeemer carried by a lady of distinction. Above a dancing parol guides her to the manger.

ANG TATLONG HARI – As richly clad kings move in a royal march to offer their gifts to the Christ child, a daigon (carol) from Dumanjog, Cebu is sang in the “laylay’

PASTORES Tubog – Tubog town that sits at the foot of the majestic Mayon volcano is always threatened by violent eruptions, so Tubog villagers pray for deliverance and perform several religious rituals the whole year round. At Christmastime the whole of Tubog comes out to join the pastores.

PASTORES, Bungiawon – Bungiawon is a way-laid town of Oas, Albay. Its pastores dressed in immaculate white perform difficult twist and knots with their white arches which reminds one of the German-knot dance.


If you wish for a year-round blessing, follow these advises (at least on Christmas day)
Talk too much bathe eat swat or kill insects frown be boisterous hurt a child
Wake up early Stretch and jump high (for kids) Invite a man, woman and a young boy for lunch hear
Mass give gifts

plant grains early – Keep happy desposition

Kiss the Nino Dormido (sleeping Jesus)

TOLOSA – An angel and a devil and lots of singing, dancing and reciting of verses, lend uniqueness of this pastores.

HARPA – Traditional Cagayan harps ring with best-loved Filipino Christmas carols.

INFANTES – Sanchez Mira in Cagayan Valley dresses up at Christmastide. And for centerpiece are the Infantes (infants) dancers, 15 girls in baby-doll dresses clicking bamboo castanets, 15 young boys banging on “tubtubong” bamboo musical instruments and 5 higantes (giants) representing the three kings, a demure angel and an annoying devil.


PASTORES TALISAY – A check in the Teotheuacan church museum in Mexico confirms that this pastores has its roots from that culture-rich region. Speculating on how it landed in the rustic town of Talisay, the Spanish missionaries and Mexican men from galleons must have found themselves teaching the pastores to relieve nostalgic pains.

PASTORES LIBAGON – A special number performed by a special group. Tracing the Christmas story from the looking for an inn to the offering of gifts to the child. Libagon, Southern Leyte reconstructs a pre-war Christmas pageant

Aeta students and scholars of the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group and there relatives and friend lend knowledge and merriment. Selections from a large repertoire milude mimetic and traditional dance.

Talic Binabayi Talic Lapinding Talic Talic-Utan Talic Bakulaw Talic Bibi Talic-Puyo Talic Dagaw
Maniag Apoy Gitarista Manganito Mangamba Dururu Talic Liplip

CHRISTMAS CARNIVAL – Where everything goes festive and magical call it fantasy, call it bright. Think of Santa Clause, gifts, lanterns, candies, decorated trees, drummer boys, clowns dancers to pirouetting ballerinas, Spanish ladies to anything that glows and glitters. A fitting commencement for a Merry Christmas!

Artistic Director Concept, Choreography, Production and Costume Design

Technical Director and Lighting Designer

Music Director

Dance Masters

Production and Stage Manager

Costume Mistress

Props and Sets



Orlando Ocampo
Michael Bayani
Romeo Medina
Benjie Bitoon

Cherry Ylanan
Christine Carol Singson
Maria Cecilia Cosejo
Joana Patric Usana
Chona Marina
Marie Ruby Ocampo
Emelita Medina
Kanami Namiki
Renato Castelo
Rommel Serrano
Joey Fungan
Peter Paul de Guzman
Jessie Maximo
Marciano Viri
Sergio Anlocotan
Kim Parco
Jhunnard Jhordan Cruz
Lyle Eymard Villahermosa
Omar Aguilar
Alvin Cano
Angelito Santos
Francis Albert Bangayan
Ronald Allan dela Cruz
Noel Lloren
Ronson Torres
Zaldy Cortes

MGA ANAK NI INANG DAIGDIG (Children from Smokey Mountain)

Andro Macalalag
Lee Smith Bitoon
Percival Montelibano
Jhun Carlo Vergara
Jason Villacorta
Jeric Rizabal

Armie Zamora
Nweme Gajunera
Revelene Ruth Balaoro
Avegail Vera
Rechele Signo
Jessa Enriquez
Diane Angelic Pido
Ana Christine Pido
Ma. Angelica Solomon
Melanie Villacorta
Cindy Janoras
Geneva Rose Balaoro
Rizza Rizabal
Isabel Desbaro
Aileen Macalalag
Rhylene Salamat
Alonah Villacorta
Maricar Dacuno
Jelica Villacorta
Catherine Estorco
Mary Ann Patulot
Ma. Analyn Solomon
Marjorie Villacorta
Alexis Vergara
Aileen Sumook
Mark Allan Ferreras
Ramilo Nocolas
Barry Boy Balaoro
Dandel Espena
Richard Signo
Joselito Enriquez
Mark Angelo Ferreras
Angelo Lepata
Jonathan Domingo
Amante Villacorta
Noel Alejandro
Ronald Asuncion
Antonio Macalalag
Arnold Zamora
Bernard Velmonte

SINAG BANAHAW CULTURAL TROUPE (Southern Luzon Polytechnic College)
Cecil Manalo
Elegrace Daelo
Rico Rosales
Reagan Buela


Pastores Libagon (Libagon, Southern Leyte) – Mrs. Praxedes Jimenes (Director) Kasayahang Aeta (Mt. Pinatubo) – Monard Narciso (Leader)


Candis Mae Ferreira Joyce Ann de Gala Bridgette Tabernilla Ma. Katrina Forneste Mariel Dioquino Ailie Layo Ma. Karla Orfanel Aileene Salazar
Jimuel Pinza Johny Cabiles Romen Casal Mark Madrigallos Lee Bryan de Borja Lorjhon Hernandez Ruseile Villanueva Ralph Edward Padillo

Aeta Community of Pampanga

1. Monard Narciso 2. Purita Narciso 3. Danilo Guiao 4. Marlyn Pamintuan 5. Melda Guiao 6. Fernando Garung 7: Victor Empante 8. Berning Baluyut 9. Fael Sibal 10. Fasita Duya 11. Jose Garung 12. Siano Camaya 13. Boy Guiao 14. Bebing Duya 15. Susing Baluyut

Alab ng Haraya
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)

since its inception, has instituted programs and projects
seeking to recover, conserve, and develop the Filipino’s cultural heritage and artistic achievements. Having recently adopted the Alab ng Haraya(The Flame of Imagination) as its official logo,
the NCCA has reaffirmed its commitment to fanning the flame of Philippine imagination for a more vibrant artistic and cultural field.
The Alab ng Haraya is composed of two basic elements — the flame and the censer —
And symbolizes the wellspring of Filipino art and culture. The flame is a stylized letter K of Philippine indigenous script
that stands for kadakilaan or greatness. The fire represents the highest level of imagination and emanates from a three-tiered censer.
The three tiers stand for organization, economic support,
and an orientation rooted on a thorough grasp of tradition and history, which the NCCA provides.

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