“FOLK DANCE”, to progress!!?? –

You’d  wonder,  what  is this  guy  talking  about!??!   Folk dance  to  progress???  Dear  folks,  what  could  be  the best  thing  you can offer  to a  foreigner if  you are  asked the question.  A  “balut” uhh…”gross!”..as some Americans would  say;  “grotty  or disgusting”, – the British would  add;  or  “que  asco!” –  you’d  hear  Spanish exclaim.   So, “balut”  is  off  the question.  What about  food,  well,  we do have  a lot  of  American,  Spanish,  Chinese,  or French influenced  foods,  so  in the  same  token   that  is  neither  the  right choice  to offer  to a  visitor  –  thus,  out of the picture.   What  about the  beaches,  most  foreigners go  to  Thailand if not  Bali  for  the beaches – just  as  well,  off  the hook.  What  could  it  be then?.   My  idea  is, offer  them  to  watch   Philippine  folk  dances!!.  Why  not?  They  are  entertaining,  colourful,  exciting to watch,  original,  different,  etc. But how?.  

In the  70´s,  there  was  a boom  of  dance groups  travelling to Japan, the favourite destination  of  Filipinos  because  of its proximity.  Besides that,  they earn  a considerable amount of “yen” in  that  country.  Thousands  of  Folk Dancers  and   hundred of  groups,  have  travelled  to Japan  regularly.  The consequence  was  a  heightened  number  of Japanese visiting the Philippines  that  raked  in for  the  country’s  economy  a  huge  chunk  of  cash  inflow.   Before,  Tourism was an  income generating  sector.

11 million  Filipinos are   spread out  around the  globe. Name  a place  and you’ll  find  a  Filipino.  They can be found in the tiniest  island,  and  even  in the remotest  area in the world.    Long before  the  Chinese  started  “invading” the world,  Filipinos  have  already  been  flocking  to other countries. That Filipino presence can   be used to the hilt, to the advantage of the country  in  general  and, the  Filipinos  in  particular.  The  Chinese  are “conquering”  the  world  with  their  foods  and products.  How  about the Philippines?   By   which   method  could we   “conquer”  the world?   A  hypothesis  question,  right?.    We  had  been  conquered before,  why not  take  a  turn around   and  start  conquering  others  this  time.   And  the  only  manner  I  could  think  of  in doing  that  is  through  our  culture – through  our  folk dances  which have  marvelled  thousands upon thousands  of  people  around  the globe.  Therefore,  we could  do the conquering by  introducing  the Philippines to foreigners  thru  dances.  By  using  the  tools  we are  experts  on handling  – folk dances!       

The Bayanihan Dance  Company is  doing   a  great job in promoting  the Philippines.   Not enough,   though.  Why?  Because  before they  are  able  to return  to the  country they had  performed previously,  years  have  already  passed,   and  if they  ever  do  return to  show  Philippine  culture, those who have  watched them  before  have  already  forgotten  about  the  Philippines.   Therefore,  consistency  and continuity in keeping the  promotion of the country  functioning the whole  time  is a key factor.   Filipino  dance groups abroad  could   maintain  that  consistency and continuity.  The  Department of Tourism  could  give  them recognition,  by confering  the groups with a  “mission status”  personality  granting them  with  a  certificate as “official  promoter of  Philippine  culture”.  As  “officialised”  group  it  will  give  motivation to  the  “official  dancers”   to  “put  their  hearts out”  in  the  dances,  to  show  to the  people  what  the Philippines  is.. 

This is  a tall order  to  achieve,  but  it  is  a  worthy investment  to put  on  that  will  lead  to an  eventual  progress  because of growth in tourism.  Tourism  could  be  the  Philippines´ saving  grace  to stride  away  from poverty.   

Philippine folk  dances  are  the  trademarks  of  the  Philippines.   We can  be  identified  as people  who  can  dance  between two  clicking bamboos  poles –  Tinikling,  the  national  dance;    people  that  dance with coconut  shells  attached  on the chest,  shoulders  and back,  waist  and legs  –  Maglalatik;   people  that  dance on  a  wooden  bench –  Sayaw sa  Bangko;  people  that  dance  with  a  small piece  of  cloth  wrapped  around the  waist – Igorot  dances;  people  that  dance  the Spanish  influenced  dance  Jota –  using  bamboo  made  castanets;  or  Muslim  influenced  dances  like  Singkil  –  a Royal  dance  between  a  Prince  and a Princess.  A lot  of  colourful  and  history  filled  dances  that  depict   the lives,  the  characters,  the  traditions  of  the Filipino  people.   Cultural  diversity runs  in the  blood  of  every  Filipino.   We  are  a mixed  society  of  Spanish, American, Chinese,  Japanese,  Malay,  Muslim  cultures,  all put  together.  

I  think  there is  a lot  of time  left  to capitalize  on our  talents.  It  is never too  late  to experience  growth  and  development,  it  is never  too  late to achieve  progress,  it  is  never  too late  to  show  what  we  are  made  of….  

That’s  it folks…just  my personal view…next  issue  I am going to treat you for  a  bit of  a surprise…. Eric.

18 September 2011  –   UPDATES  ON:

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