Sunday, January 11, 2009



After chancing upon such invitation to audition for Powerdance at the Araneta Center in Cubao last week, we asked ourselves: WHY? Taking the challenge was not in our priority list – but what made us stop for awhile was the claim that we, Filipinos, are born dancers!

Still, we hear no evil in the news that most dance majors now work as either choreographers for streetdances here or mascots abroad like in Hongkong Disneyland or see no evil in variety shows which could be mistaken for beerhouse all-the-ways or speaking no evil about the definition of dance as nothing but a vertical expression of a horizontal desire!

Green Papaya Art Projects' Diego Maranan and Donna Miranda were nowhere in sight but they had proven that it is indeed in our DNA (not necessarily the Douglas Nierras Acid!) when they performed like wild Crisostomo Ibarra and Maria Clara last June 19 at the University of the Philippines Bulwagang Rizal Galleria 1 to the postmodern presentation of Khavn de la Cruz's film Ultimo to the music of Radioactive Sago Project's Junji Lerma on guitar and de la Cruz himself on piano.

Comparative literature major Myra Beltran, who was one of the artistic directors of the critically acclaimed Wifi Body Festival 3: Independent Contemporary Dance Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines knew it all so well when she formed Dance Forum to lead "a generation of committed dance artists into new terrain in Philippine dance" in 1995 – the same year Ballerina of the People author Lisa Macuja Elizalde helped create Ballet Manila to bring ballet closer to the hearts of the Filipino masses!

Another prima ballerina Edna Vida -- who had been preoccupied with directing shows and teaching dance as a skill as well as a therapy (pretty much like what U.P. Streetdance Club choreographer Mycs Villoso did for Rizal Medical Center's Cansurvive cancer support group) – who was generous in blogging about the key in winning dance contests:
1.Think of a unique concept. Make the judges remember your work. Stand out!
2.Avoid gimmickry. Truth is the silent music of dance, and the loudest.
3. Don't be afraid to repeat movements. Repetition is a breather. Repetition is emphasis. Repetition is a reminder. Repetition is powerful.
4. Don't move all the time. Stillness can be a diamond in an outbreak of steps. Be familiar with the drama of immobility.
5. Structure. Structure. Structure. Don't be carried away by movement itself. Don't self-indulge. Have a clear beginning, middle and end. Come up with a finished and complete art work.
6. Lock yourself in the room and think, think, think. Get out of the box. Be crazy. Dare. Explore. Experiment. Don't be safe and dull. Get good music – it will assure 50% of your success.
7. Have a 'second eye' and listen to fresh opinion. When you are too close to your work there are many things you no longer see. Make sure your 'second eye' is frank and unbiased.
8. Be confident. No one in this world is spared disappointment. Don't be stumped by failure. Lick your wounds but never succumb to defeat. Tomorrow is another day.
9. Don't be too proud to keep growing and learning until you die.
10. Don't take yourself too seriously. You're just another human being serving God like everyone else. One hundred years from now, who'll remember your work?

About immortality, ask Francisca Aquino, the first National Artist for Dance in 1973, who had that kind of foresight in prolonging the life, so to speak, of the folk dance movement in the Philippines -- not only by preserving it using just a camera and a recording machine but also by popularizing it via her own Filipiniana Folk Dance Troupe. Or her student, Leonor Orosa Goquinco, who disobeyed her mentor by "tampering with the original dances" since as early as pre-war Goquinco had been experimenting with blending classical ballet with Philippine folk dance until she had proven herself that she was on the right track, like Aquino, when she was named the National Artist Award for Dance in 1976. Or Lucrecia Reyes Urtula who became a National Artist for Dance in 1988 for creating neo-ethnic dance culture after 40 years of discovering and studying Philippines folk and ethnic dances as well as promoting them through the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company as well as get promoted, too, by the likes of Walter Terry of the New York Herald Tribune who once wrote that her genius "ranks with Russia's Igor Moiseyev, Mexico's Amalia Hernandez, and our own Agnes de Mille in the brilliant translation of ethnic dance forms into theatrical terms." Or Ramon Obusan, National Artist for Dance in 2006 who had degrees in Marine Biology and Anthropology, who was quoted as saying: "For the Filipino, there is no higher symbolic form than a dance. Transcendent of the spoken language and laden with the most profound emotional content, dance represents the distillation of collective memory, affect, religious piety, humility, and purity of intention. When the message is so complex, it is at times articulated in a dance."
Or Basilio Esteban Villaruz – the president of World Dance Alliance-Philippine Choreographers' Network and the author of the award-winning Treading Through: 45 Years of Philippine Dance who can look at dance from a historian's perspective: "To many, including my own general education class for non-dancers (Reading Dance) in the university, this unconventional use of spaces or dances was provocative in perspectives and mode of presenting dance. It also opened their eyes to groups they are not usually familiar with, including Powerdance, Steps Dance Studio, Ballet Philippines dancers, Halili Cruz School of Dance, Denisa Reyes (in a revival of her dance from Airdance), resident groups at St Benilde College of De la Salle University (Footworks and Neonescas), and from the provinces, Teatro Baile de Cavite, Philippine High School for the Arts from Laguna, and Kahayag Community Dance and Theatre Company from South Cotabato. In December 2006, WDA-P met to evaluate these events, and discuss plans for 2007. Manila is the proposed site for 2009, although establishing a budget and seeking funds for three years hence are, of course, difficult tasks. Hopefully the Manila and Philippine governments will acknowledge the value of our dance culture and the importance of
maintaining global links by contributing generously."

As if in a dance trance, we tried to catch all the happenings last week from the fourth edition of Virgin Labfest that opened at the Bulwagang Huseng Batute and Bulwagang Amado V. Hernandez of the Cultural Center of the Philippines last June 25 to the supposedly first UNLAK or Umpil (Unyon ng mga Manunulat)-NBDB (National Book Development Board) Lakbay-Awtor para sa Kabataan featured poet Benilda S. Santos at the Ma. Concepcion Cruz High School in Pateros to the Luau Party for Narita at Ninety, the birthday blowout in honor of the loving wife of late great N.V.M. Gonzalez to the the Alitaptap Storytellers Philippines' Acting and Reading Techniques In StoryTelling (ARTIST) Workshop last June 28 at the Executive Lounge, National Library to the National Artist BenCab exhibited his drawing installation at Silverlens Gallery in Makati his and launched his book BenCab: Nude Drawings edited by poet Krip Yuson and published by Anvil Publishing Inc. up to the BalikTanaw solo exhibit of singer/composer Heber Bartolome at Maestro Masterpiece Art Depo in Quezon City.
Also, from June 27 to 29, we took part in the first Palihang DFPP or Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas in Ligaya Tiamson Rubin's Angono. Fellows for Tula are Erick D. Aguilar (UP), Mailan Ann Yancy T. Falculan (UP Los Baños), Kristian Mamforte (Ateneo De Manila University), Michael Rey S. Orlino (ADMU), Ronald R. Ramos (UP), and Cara C.Eriguel (UP); for Maikling Kuwento are Adam Cornelius B. Asin (UP), Neil V. Dalanon (UP), Melanie Magpantay (University of Santos Tomas), Geraldine V. Paguibitan (UST), Micaela Papa (UP), and Marianne Mixkaela Villalon (UP); and for Dula are Herlyn Gail Alegre (UP), Jose Lorenzo V. De Jesus (UP), and Roby Roxas (UP). We comprised the Teaching Staff together with National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, Efren R. Abueg, Glecy Atienza, Joey Baquiran, Eugene Evasco, Luna Sicat-Cleto, and Prof. Jun Cruz Reyes. Prof. Reuel Aguila and Dr. Jimmuel Naval are this year's Workshop Directors.
By the way, today is our last day as the Likhaan: University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing director. We extend our gratitude to the following literary living legends who allowed me for five years preside over our regular monthly meetings. Greatly we are indebted to National Artists Virgilio Almario and Bienvenido Lumbera, University Professors Emeriti Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio and Gemino Abad, Associates Dr. Jose Neil Garcia, Vice President for Public Affairs Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Prof. Jun Cruz Reyes, Dr. Roland Tolentino, former UP Mindanao Chancellor Ricardo de Ungria, and former UP Vice President for Public Affairs Jose Dalisay Jr. -- who will take over tomorrow as my successor --as well as Resident Fellow Prof. Charlson Ong. Also, wallless thanks to our former Deputy Directors namely Dr. Ruby Gamboa Alcantara, Prof. Marie Aubrey J. Villaceran, and Prof. Romulo Baquiran Jr. Other ICW bigwigs, by the way, were on leave (permanently as in the case of playwright/fictionist/essayist Rene Villanueva who will be given tribute by former colleague Indiana-based Dr. Anton Juan via his play Hinabing Pakpak Ng Ating Mga Anak slated on July 16 - August 10 for Dulaang UP) such as Hawaii-based Dr. Lilia Quindoza Santiago and Boston-based Josephine Barrios Leblanc (who edited the book Savage Stage: Plays by Ma-yi Theater Company which will be launched at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino on July 3 at 6:30 p.m.), to name a few.
Tomorrow, US-based photographer Paul Val Peña will show his other side as singer/composer in his concert (sponsored by Ms. Karen Galarpe and the Amihans of the Varsitarian, University of Santo Tomas' official student organ that created the likes of our editor Isabel de Leon and photojournalist/artist Pinggot Zulueta) at the Conspiracy Garden Café from 7 p.m. during the Conspiwriters Tuesdays. Born and raised in Olongapo City, Peña learned to play music from local Methodist church and started jamming in folk houses as early as 13 years old. He now settles in San Diego, California where he finished his Masters in Organizational Development from University of California, and works currently as a Human Resources supervisor at largest casino operator in the world, Harrah's Entertainment Inc., and lives with his wife Veronica, also a former V staff writer, and nine-year old lookalike Matthew! Part of the program is the launch of our pirate-friendly website where Juan can dance to or download our compositions!
Lastly, six, or rather, five, writers have all the reason to dance for bagging the Gawad Likhaan: U.P. Centennial Literary Grand Prize:
1. Jose Marte A. Abueg for Poetry in English for the entry Bird Lands, River Nights and Other Melancholies;
2 Jerry B. Gracio for Tula sa Filipino for the entry Aves;
3. Criselda D. Yabes in Novel or Short Story Collection in English for the entry Below the Crying Mountain;
4. Jose Rey Munsayac in Nobela o Koleksiyon ng mga Katha sa Filipino for the entry Duguang Kamay sa Nilulumot na Pader;
5. Criselda D. Yabes in Creative Nonfiction in English for the entry Sarena's Story: The Loss of a Kingdom;
6. Lualhati M. Abreu in Malikhaing Sanaysay sa Filipino for the entry Agaw Dilim, Agaw Liwanag.
The awarding ceremonies will be held on July 8, 4 p.m., at Pulungang Recto, Faculty Center, U.P. Diliman. For details, kindly call Ms. Amy Colanta at # 9221830.
Keep our communication lines open, feel free to email us at


Then: long hair
Now: longing for hair.

Then: enjoying beer joints
Now: suffering from aching joints.

Then: music by rolling stones
Now: in bed with kidney stones

Then: frequenting beer garden
Now: contemplating memorial garden

Then: looking for callgirl
Now: calling for caregiver


What is a trashcan?
To a toddler, it is just a shelf of his ugly toys.
To a pupil, it is where he or she keeps his or her test papers.
To a teenager, it is a basketcase for the letters of an ex-lover.
To a writer, it is a file of rejected drafts.
But to a streetkid, with a trashcan, so goes life.

No comments:

Post a Comment