FEATURE: The Artist-Cultural Worker is Chief Security Officer

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews / 09 Sept) — When Leonardo “Dodong” Baldoviso interpreted in a dance Joey Ayala’s “Haring Ibon” during the Bislig City Employees’ Night in September last year, the audience watching him perform onstage was glued and silent and unbelieving.

Dodong does not fit the stereotype of a performing artist, choreographer-director and theater practitioner more than a battle-ready security force. Dodong, in fact, is Chief Security Officer of the close-in security group of Mayor Librado Navarro of Bislig City, Surigao del Norte. With Dodong are soldiers detailed to the mayor, but he enjoys the trust and confidence of the mayor who personally picked him.

Unknown to Mayor Navarro, Dodong is a trained theate

Leonardo "Dodong" Baldoviso. Photo courtesy of Mr. Baldoviso
Leonardo “Dodong” Baldoviso. File photo courtesy of Mr. Baldoviso

r artist and cultural worker honed in cultural work by EDCADS (Educational Discipline in Culture and Area-based Development Services, Inc.), a cultural institution set up in Butuan City in 1986.

“I was 16 when I joined a community theater workshop and pursued it because it developed my sense of creativity.” He eventually started directing and organizing cultural performances and events. His endearment to Mindanawon dramaturgy deepened as he constantly connected with colleagues and mentors, the likes of Richard Belar, Popong Landero and Titing Trinquite.

When he started working in government, cultural work took a back seat. “Not everyone knew I was in cultural work, directing small plays, musicals and street dances. It was a job but not a full time work.” Then he became Mayor Navarro’s spokesperson, handling a daily radio program and attending to security matters. “My training in theater and cultural work made it easier for me to tackle jobs assigned to me, like a role I have to play.”

His “Haring Ibon” performance gave his colleagues in City Hall a glimpse of what he is made of: a no-nonsense artist behind the security force. But it also left suspicions and teasing. “Everybody was asking, including the mayor and his lady, if I am gay. But I told them I am straight.”

Dodong is devoted to his wife and is a pampering father to his two children. He met his wife when she asked him to train her for a talent piece in the beauty pageant she joined.

“I am not bothered at all what they think and that was long ago. Now, no one talks about it. The men in my security unit would even tell me I can do better than other performances done by other directors or choreographers.”

His colleagues in the cultural work in Mindanao recognize and admire his undying passion for the creative expression. “Dodong is like the silent water running deep, always consistent, always loyal to cultural work,” says Greggo Uriarte of Surigao city, poet and playwright and development worker.

Dodong’s currently engrossed with Katinag (Kanato Tinuy-an Artistic Group), a theater company  composed of City Hall employees which he organized recently.

It is important for him that the group understands and experiences theater as a means of  creative expression not just for entertainment but as a means of raising consciousness.

A people’s artist, that’s what Dodong Baldoviso is. (Ramon Jorge B. Sarabosing / MindaNews)