‘Salome’s dance’ in the Iloilo mayors league

By Alex P. Vidal

“Salomé, Salomé, dance for me. I pray thee dance for me. I am sad to-night. Yes, I am passing sad to-night. When I came hither I slipped in blood, which is an evil omen; and I heard, I am sure I heard in the air a beating of wings, a beating of giant wings. I cannot tell what they mean …. I am sad to-night. Therefore dance for me. Dance for me, Salomé, I beseech you. If you dance for me you may ask of me what you will, and I will give it you, even unto the half of my kingdom.” ― Oscar Wilde

UNLIKE the outrage whipped up by the performance of sexy dancers in a recent National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) social gathering in Manila, there was no media uproar when the Iloilo Mayors League (now League of Municipalities) headed then by Ramon “Moning” Antiojo Jr. of Anilao, Iloilo allowed “Salome’s dance” in a program held in the ballroom of a seafood restaurant near the Iloilo River in 1992.

Then Leganes Mayor Josil Jaen had opposed the move to include Salome in the program but was prevailed upon by then San Rafael Mayor Tomas Divinagracia and another mayor from the fifth district of Iloilo during their meeting days earlier at the old Capitol’s RPTA Hall.

In the Biblical myth, Salome danced before King Herod Antipas in exchange for John the Baptist’s head, which referred to Salome dancing before the king.

The mayors league Salome was the “girlfriend” of a popular broadcaster hired to “entertain” the Iloilo mayors in a dinner party who did not demand anything except her “talent fee.”

The dance of Iloilo’s Salome, who was clad in white t-shirt and flare jeans, wasn’t scandalous unlike in the NBI’s “sexy” dancers.

She performed three times—two solo and one together with her radioman “boyfriend”—and was paid P2,000 for her “talent.”

Just like in the NBI “sexy dance” scandal, the mayors league did not spend a single centavo for Salome.


The Salome dance proponents in the crowd passed the hat and collected P800.

A popular mayor in the fifth district chipped in P1,000.

The P200 was handed by someone in the crowd who was not an elected official.

Although Salome’s dance was slightly criticized by a “blocktime” radio anchorman in his program days later, Mayor Antiojo did not apologize for Salome’s dance unlike NBI chief Medardo de Lemos who said sorry over the controversy saying it was not their intention to offend anyone.

Kung naging offensive man ang pagsasayaw na ito noong June 30 after ng command conference sa sensibilities ng ating mga mamamayan, lalo na ating kababaihan, humihingi po kami ng paumanhin (If ever the dance performance last June 30 after our command conference offended our people’s sensibilities, especially women, we apologize),” De Lemos said during the briefing.


De Lemos said the performance took place after their command conference, adding that they had a fellowship for the NBI national and regional officers to bond.

He refused to dignify criticism that the NBI considers women as a commodity.

The NBI chief claimed he was absent during the controversial performance, but was present during the early part of the fellowship at around 5:30 pm saying he was tired because of the two-day conference and left early.

He called added the celebrations inside the bureau as “wholesome.”

De Lemos said he already ordered a probe into the incident to determine who invited and brought the dancers, and who allowed them to perform for the NBI event. He added they will impose necessary sanctions against those proven to be at fault under civil service rules.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)