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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