PANGASINAN, Philippines — In between preparations for Palarong Pambansa 2012, I took some time off to visit the Sison Auditorium, hailed by many as the Cultural Center of the North.
This neo-classical structure was built in 1927 as part of the Pangasinan Academic High School under then Governor Teofilo Sison, but the building soon lost its luster as it aged. My dad tells me he used to play basketball in its halls as a teenager and that it was just a regular old building. Others who grew up here tell me it was a dilapidated structure. That was until 2008-2010, when the Pangasinan government embarked on a restoration project aimed at bringing the auditorium back to its former glory.
Today the auditorium is one of the most notable tourist destinations in the Pangasinan Capitol grounds, and is open 24 hours for anyone who wants to stop by. If you are lucky you’ll be greeted by a security guard named Norman Fulo. People in town call him the “guard na Ingglisero” (the guard who speaks English) but he is much more than that.
I remember standing under the baroque columns just outside main entrance of Sison Hall when a middle-aged man walked up to me with an air of confidence and a pleasant but proud demeanor. It was as if he was a rich landlord, and the auditorium the centerpiece of his estate. “Welcome to to the Cultural Center of the North,” he beamed.
But Fulo isn’t just in charge of building security, nor is he just the welcome band. He’s the whole party — an excellent tour guide and social media marketer.
In the accompanying video, Rappler takes you on the same tour that Fulo gave me and the hundreds of other tourists that visit the auditorium each week. Sit back, relax, and enjoy. — Rappler.com