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MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte (PIA)  --  A multi-sectoral group here which gathered for two days until today to come up with a unique local cultural event has coined a distinct festival the city can proudly call its own, drawing from its rich cultural past and a strong community volunteerism spirit.

Decided by a group of dance choreographers, artists, writers, and the academe was the “Ajonay Festival”, the term referring  to a dialect word that means a call for a “bayanihan” undertaking shared in common.

“Ajonay” presupposes openness to help in various tasks, like a harvest, fishing, or a readiness to serve in personal events such as wedding, funeral, or social mobilization for inter-barangay or neighborhood projects.

Conceptualized as a jolly activity that involves rhythmic dancing, dance enthusiasts attending the two-day seminar workshop at Supercha 2 restaurant ironed out the basic individual steps that can accompany the swift movement based on three major storylines on “pag-agni” (a call to join), “pag-hugopay” (coming together), and “ajo-ajo” (farewell).

In giving emphasis to the details of dancing, Victor Cuenco of the Cebu Sinulog Foundation, stressed that executing a dance should have a good form of communication mixed with drama as an integral content. 

“Dance can be a means of enriching life when it expresses mankind’s deep mood and emotions,” Cuenco said. 

Choreographers also agreed to incorporate in the “ajonay” dance steps the long-cherished dream to put into the social consciousness the “jota Maasina” distinct flow of movement advocates claimed to be an original Maasinhon dance, a claim unopposed thus far among literary and culture enthusiasts.  

Specifics on how to go about staging the “Ajonay Festival”, on when the best month it should be held, and the manner in holding it whether by street dancing or ritual demonstration are still worked out on the second day today of the seminar workshop.

Guidelines or criteria on “ajonay” dancing were also being thoroughly discussed.

As this developed, Ricly Ballesteros, Executive Director of the Cebu Sinulog Foundation, shared their experience on how they started forming the Sinulog foundation way back in 1984 with no budget until Sinulog evolved over time as synonymous with Cebu with its well-known international appeal. 

The two-day seminar workshop also desired to form the core group in the process of organizing the Maasin Festival Foundation.  (PIA8-Southern Leyte)