The Inbox

A meaningful Christmas for Boys Town residents with AlunAlun Dance Circle

Senior residents of Boystown carry flag colors in Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa

By Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

Photos by Cynthia Paz and Tony Lacaba

Ligaya Amilbangsa, cultural researcher and conservationist par excellence, dancer and doubtless a living national treasure, found a good way to pass on her dance instruction method to a new generation through the AlunAlun Dance Circle's (AADC) Yuletide performance "Pangalay sa Boys' Town" in Parang, Marikina City.

Amilbangsa is behind the revival of the Mindanao dance form called pangalay (its literal meaning is "gift" or "offering"), a meditative dance that follows natural breathing and is reflective of the movements of waves. Since October up to December this year, her circle trained 29 children in Manila Boys’ Town.

Rosalie Matilac, AADC lead dancer and managing director, said, "The young people came from difficult circumstances: physical abuse, labor exploitation, child trafficking, troubled neighborhoods, homelessness and other dire situations."

Since the 23-hectare complex in Marikina is also sanctuary to about 300 toddlers, boys, girls and elderly who were abused, exploited and/or abandoned, Matilac said the pangalay method was a way for the residents to "learn an effective way to transcend their circumstances and uplift their souls. Their stories are heart-breaking: children who were left in the streets by their parents, children whose young bodies were sold by their own relatives, old folk who nobody wanted anymore after their productive years were over."

Ligaya Amilbangsa puts makeup on performer.The classes were held five days a week. Matilac described the newbie dancers thus, "They're so good! This is the AlunAlun's and Ligaya's way of propagating the art form by imparting the dance to the oppressed and the marginalized. It is her way of coming full circle. The land where Boys' Town stands was donated to the city of Manila by Marikina at the time when Ligaya's father was Marikina mayor in the 1950s."

With financial aid from Harnessing Self-reliant Initiatives and Knowledge or HASIK, a non-governmental organization, the circle carried out Amilbangsa's vision of "making pangalay relevant to the younger generation and to the present-day audience," Matilac said, adding that the dance form "will vanish if we don't introduce a way of teaching it to others outside and within the community. Many traditional gestures and steps have been forgotten by the residents themselves of Tawi-Tawi [where pangalay began]."

Amilbangsa, 70, lived in Taw-Tawi for many years and is a tireless, hands-on teacher. For the Marikina recital, she applied makeup on the faces of the girl performers, a way of helping raise their self-esteem.

From the pangalay teachers, the boys, girls and senior citizens from the home called Luwalhati ng Maynila learned to dance together intuitively (pakiramdaman)  and without touching one another. They mimed the movements of the waves, the wind and the flowers in gestures that are also found in other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Cambodia.

Girls dance to Yoyoy Villame's BuchikikMatilac recalled how the trainors from AADC would often ask the seniors during rehearsals, "Kaya pa ba ninyo (Can you still do it)?" The unanimous reply was always, "Kaya pa (Yes, we can)!"

She also said, "The elderly wards are so happy that a group of teachers spent time to teach them pangalay. The pain in their joints disappeared along with stiffening of their bones and other body parts. One old man asked them, 'Bakit niyo kami pinag-aaksayahan ng panahon e papalubog na ang buhay naming (Why do you bother to waste time on us when our lives are ending)?'They can all relate well with Ligaya when they learned that she is already 70."

They danced, even jammed with pangalay core dancers like Amilbangsa, Matilac, Mariel Francisco, Temay Padero, to the music of Mozart's Sonata in C Major, Andres Bonifacio's "Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa" as sung by Inang Laya , even to the riotous music of Yoyoy Villame ("Granada" with two teenagers in shades and vests, looking like guns for hire,"Buchikik," "Tsismis," "Mag-Exercise Tayo" and "Nasaan ka Darling").

Even when Villame's lyrics and upbeat tune were at their funniest, the dancers were required to wear expressionless faces. The old folk astonished the audience in their ability to still bend their knees, a gesture also required by pangalay.

Francisco and Padero showed, through the number "Bula’bula," how a dance can be done without recorded music. They used bamboo clappers, symbolizing seashells, to provide the percussive beat. Matilac's and her co-dancer's interpretation of "Linggisan" mimicked the movements of birds. They wore the janggay or metalic fingers.

The children, especially the recitalists, gathered on the sides of the stage because for the first time, they saw their teachers dance in full costume.

Capping the show was Sampaguita's rock hit "Bonggahan" with the Manila Boys' Town and AADC members dancing to it with a straight face.

If anything, this recital proved that an art form as ancient as the pangalay can still empower the weak, the poor, the deprived and the oppressed.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US renews travel warning to Mindanao
    US renews travel warning to Mindanao

    The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …

  • Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda
    Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda

    The Philippine initiative to put the interests of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) front and center in global and regional trade has made significant progress following the conclusion on Thursday of the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings in Boracay, Aklan. Called “The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” the Philippine proposal calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider …

  • Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week
    Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week

    The Philippines will join a 15-nation meeting in Bangkok, Thailand next week to address the migration crisis involving thousands of Rohingyas who escaped persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima bared this yesterday after meeting with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to the Philippines Bernard Kerblat. In an interview, De Lima said the Philippine government has been invited to the meeting. …

  • Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon
    Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon

    LEGAZPI CITY—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon before dawn yesterday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. …

  • Drought-resistant rice breeds bared
    Drought-resistant rice breeds bared

    SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija – Amid the searing heat, the Philippine Rice Research Institute central experiment station here has identified nine rice breeds which have been proven to be drought-resistant and produce high yields in temperatures as high as 38°C based on a recent study. Thelma Padolina, lead researcher of the study titled “Screening of rice-induced mutants for heat and drought tolerance,” identified the breeding lines as the Ballatinaw lines, PSB Rc72H and Azucena lines. …

  • Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning
    Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning

    The United States military will continue air and sea patrols in international waters even after the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a US surveillance plane to leave the airspace over artificial islands China is creating in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippine government also declared it would continue activities in the region, calling on China to respect freedom of navigation and aviation. “Our position on the importance of letting freedom of navigation, freedom of aviation and …

  • MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned
    MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned

    Electricity and mobile phone services would be cut throughout Metro Manila, and all private and government offices and businesses, including shopping malls, would be closed. That would be the situation on July 16 between 3 and 8 p.m. to simulate the scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned that an earthquake of that magnitude could occur and kill at least 33,500 people and injure at least 113,600 others following a …

  • Subaru XV now priced among sedans
    Subaru XV now priced among sedans

    Motor Image Philipinas (MIP), the authorized distributor of Subaru in the country, has positioned its brand new crossover SUV, the Subaru XV, well within the sedan segment’s price range. This move, according to MIP, was made to give the public an opportunity to experience the brand’s unique automotive technologies by lowering its price. Buyers of […] The post Subaru XV now priced among sedans appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options