MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — Their forefathers performed on Sanciangko Street in Cebu City in the early 1900s to provide entertainment in fiestas.
They also used their talents to help members of the revolutionary movement in Cebu to campaign against the Japanese occupation during the World War II.
But members of the Alpha de Salonera group stopped doing public performances after their founder, Inang Lauriana Solar, died of sickness during the war. Solar was said to have been buried somewhere in Beverly Hills in Cebu City.
Third generation Salonera’s of Socorro town in Bucas Grande Island in Surigao del Norte Province, intends to continue what Inang Lauriana started, according to Jeyrence Quilario, the president of the Soccorro Bayanihan Services Inc. that is behind the Omega de Salonera group.
And they are planning a big comeback in Cebu City during the Sinulog grand parade this January. At the same time, they also wanted to pay homage to the Señor Sto. Niño, said Quilario who is known by his screen name Senior Agila.
“Ang among mga katiguwangan nagsige to og sayaw unya nawala ang Salonera. Amo gyud ning pangandoy nga balikon namo [ang grupo] unya moanha mi sa Cebu,” he said.
(Our elders were into dancing and then Salonera disappeared. It is our dream to bring it back [Salonera] then we will go to Cebu.)
“Kami ang mosunod sa ilang lakang. Kami ang mopadayon [sa nabiyaan sa among katigulangan],” he added.
(We will follow in their footstep. We will be the ones to continue [those that had been abandoned by our elders.])
Senior Agila is the contingent head of the Omega de Saloneras. He is also a member of the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (FILSCAP).
Aside from their love for music and the arts, the Saloneras, according to Quilario, are also devotees of the Holy Child, whom they believe was the one who lead their elders to Bucas Grande Island while they searched for a “safe place” to stay during the war.
He said their forefathers were natives of the municipality of Matalom in Leyte Province. They were forced to flee their coastal community during the Japanese occupation. They stayed in at least seven “stops” before the Sto. Niño “led” them to Bucas Grande Island that they now occupy.
“Ang mga Salonera daku kaayo og kabubut-on sa Sto. Niño. During the Japanese occupancy, ang Sto. Niño ang nakatabang nila. Naa man kuno toy babaye nga nagdala og rebolto sa Sto. Niño, unya gilead sila sa isla nga ilang kadangpan,” said Senior Agila, who is a second generation Salonera.
(The Saloneras have a big debt of gratitude to the Sto. Niño. During the Japanese occupation, it was the Sto. Niño, who helped them. There was this woman, who was bringing an image of the Sto. Niño, and she lead them to the island where they can stay.)
Bucas Grande Island is located beside Siargao Island.
Senior Agila said the younger Saloneras had been wanting to regroup and continue what was started by their elders. But it was only in 2022 that they finally realized that dream.
Third generation Saloneras started to practice and later on joined the Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival in Surigao City in September 2022 and won this year’s championship trophy.
With their budget limitations, they use whatever is available in their community to help their performers.
He said they even travelled to Surgiao City on wooden boats when they competed in the Bonok-Bonok Festival.
In November of the same year, they started to practice for the Sinulog grand parade.
Their Sinulog performers, who are between 15 to 20 years of age, practice for more than 12 hours daily to make sure that they are ready to compete in the grand parade on Jan. 15 to showcase the happy life of their people and to honor their elders.
“Katumanan ni sa among mga panaad sa among mga katiguwangan. Nagdaku mi nga nakahibaw gyud mi unsa ang mga Salonera gikan sa mga storya sa among mga lolo ug lola,” Senior Agila said.
(This is the fulfilment of our promises to our elders. We grew up knowing who the Saloneras were through the stories of our lolos and lolas.)
He said their contingent consisted of 100 dancers, 200 propsmen and 50 instrumentalists. During their travel to Cebu on Jan. 9, they will also be bringing along support staffs to help them in the preparations of their performers and to cook their meals.
But before the grand parade, they will be presenting at the “Gabii sa Pasundayag” that will be held at 6 p.m. at the Fuente Osmeña Circle in Cebu City on Jan. 12.
Senior Agila said the Saloneras continued to practice “bayanihan,” which was also the key to the success of their group.
They occupy a small mountain community in Sitio Kapihan, Barangay Sering in Socorro town that consists of around 5, 000 residents.
They have people in their community, who prepare the costumes and the props of their performers. They also help raise funds to support the other needs of their performers including their trip to Cebu.
And since they do not have a covered court, Hilario said, they practice daily in a clearing in their community.
“Gumikan sa among pagtoo sa Ginoo ug sa Sto. Niño, wala na namo huna-hunaa ang kalisud. Gisalig na lang namo sa Ginoo ang tanan,” he said.
(Because of our faith to God and the Sto. Niño, we did not think of the challenges. We put all our faith to God.)
They also consider all the challenges that come their way as a form of sacrifice and their offering to the Sto. Niño.
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