Words By Aureen Almario (artistic director of Bindlestiff Studio and ReTas facilitator)
Edited by Dave Ragaza
“Senior Art Moments!” was the title chosen by the Restorative Theater Arts for Seniors (ReTas) group for their final presentation. Together they wanted to redefine the expression “senior moment” -the misleading notion that all seniors are forgetful- to a more positive connotation. They wanted to show that they are indeed vibrant, talented, brilliant, and especially funny.
The fifteen seniors showed off their storytelling and dance skills on the morning of July 30th at Bindlestiff Studio to a packed house. The finale showcase of the ReTas program combined with the book launch for “Tales from Barangay SOMA” and the unveiling of the visual arts program’s calendar proved to be a truly heartwarming event. The line up included folk dancing, improv, storytelling, readings, and singing. Thanks to organizer, Lolita Kintanar, the audience was filled with local agencies and community groups who came out in full force. In attendance were the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, SOMCAN, Curry Senior Center, Central City Older Adults Clinic, Canon Kip Senior Center of Episcopal Community Services, SOMA Pilipinas, Mint Mall Tenants Association, Tenderloin Fil Am Community Association, Bayanihan Equity Center, HICAP of Self-Help for the Elderly, Asian Pacific American Community Center, FCDC, Pilipino Senior Resource Center, ONLOK, Senior & Disability Action, Mayor of Daly City Juslyn Manalo, along with a number of friends and family.
ReTas was a pilot program developed by Bindlestiff Studio’s Managing Director, Oliver Saria and facilitated by Artistic Director Aureen Almario, with major funding by the San Francisco Arts Commission, to engage senior community members through performance arts. It was not until Lolita Kintanar and Susan Araneta came on board that the program jump-started and with the help of Filipino Community Development Corporation (FCDC), the program became a robust group of dedicated participants who met weekly, Monday mornings, from 10am till noon.
FCDC was just finishing its Arts and Writing Projects with Pilipino Senior Resource Center (PSRC) through two local artists, Grace Sy and Oscar Penaranda when Bindlestiff Studios asked to partner for the ReTAS program. Lolita Kintanar and Susan Araneta felt that “It was a perfect opportunity to enhance creative expression and provide seniors an art form that promoted physical and mental activity. It was also important for us at FCDC to build partnerships with community organizations like Bindlestiff Studios because joint efforts such as this helps strengthen our community.” The primary goal for Oliver Saria was to engage the seniors through theater arts to improve their overall health and well-being.
The seniors became such a tight-knit group that it is hard to imagine the program had ended on the same day of the presentation. Bindlestiff Studio hopes to continue the program in the near future and Lolita is already tirelessly organizing the seniors together for weekly meetings. It was a reinvigorating experience for all the participants who at certain moments exclaimed feeling “alive” and like “a child again” when playing theater exercises.
In a rapidly changing city where seniors can often feel isolated and neglected, “Senior Art Moments!” shined a spotlight on their touching and unforgettable memories. From the bottom of my heart thank you to Alma Fabian, Cecilia De La Cruz, Edita Reyes, Elizabeth Aquino, Emilita Torio, Florencio Cortez, Luz Parcalla, Maternidad Comode, Myrna Austria, Nattividad Galinato, Remy Francisco, Suzy Lee, Verginia Edlagan, Zenaida Bumagan, Betty De Guzman, Lydia Palitig, Carlito Palitig, Esther Bungay, Alma Animo, and Daisy Camyana.