I was at Museo Pambata last week to visit the Sayaw! exhibit (part of the Zero In series). It highlighted the work of National Artist for Dance Ramon Arevalo Obusan whose life work spans documentation, research, choreography, stage production, filmmaking, and performance director of various Philippine dance.
In 2002, he formed the group Batang Ramon Obusan to further enrich the performances of Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group. Now numbering around 35, these children are multifaceted performers able to switch from dancers to musicians and vice versa.
Watching their videos made me realized that I hardly knew Philippine dance at all. Except for the popular ones like tinikling and other simple dances. I guess for the younger generation, the same can be said although their exposure to the Internet may have given them more information compared to my time.
But nevertheless, the access to such information may not necessarily mean an increase in interest on the subject.
When I was in Zero In launch, a different set of kids performed. They are the CAP Kids that rendered a Gumboots dance with Escola De Samba and Nyko Maca.
The Children’s Advocacy Program of Museo Pambata Foundation, Inc., or better known as CAP Kids, has been part of the foundation since 2002. The program selects 15 children, who are between the ages of 7 – 12 and are residents of Manila, and trains them to be child advocates of the foundation through various workshops and learning sessions done in and out of the museum.
This year, the children underwent various art workshops, from visual arts, theater, to music and dance. They were trained in hip-hop and street dancing by professional dancers and musicians from Germany through the Goethe-Institut, Alliance Francaise and Japan Foundation’s Rap In Tondo project, which has been running for two years now. The children have performed in B-Side, The Collective along with other children and professional dancers from Manila for the Rap In Tondo 2 culminating activity. They also recently went through a series of dance workshops on the South African Gumboot Dance with Ms. Nyko Maca.
The Escola de Samba de Manila is the first and only such group in Manila that performs Afro-Brasilian drums and dance. Founded by Toni Bernardo, who is also its drum director, Escola de Samba have performed in the Philippine International Jazz Festival of 2006 as well as the World Pyrotechnic Show in 2005.
Nykó Macá draws upon her United World College experience to bring the globe home to the Philippines. As a multi-lingual vocalist she and her Brasil-inspired band GAFiEiRA are a soul, samba, and all-around funk movement. She has performed in various venues around the country and abroad, and works to bring the Philippines to the world stage: A filipina who represented the country in foreign lands and aspires to represent the world here at home.
But at Museo Pambata, there was a video was being played of Philippine dance performed by Batang RO. I wish I had made time to return to MOA and watch them.
Exhibit manager Joseph De Vera also shared to me that Batang RO needs all the support that they can get in order to sustain their advocacy of promoting Philippine dance.
Moving forward, I can’t help but ask myself what do we want to happen with Philippine dance. Is this something that we want our kids to learn? Or just be forgotten? If you can support Batang RO in anyway, will you take action? What can we do?
After Ramon Obusan, who are taking the lead in promoting and nurturing Philippine dance? What can we do to support them further?
As much as we embrace modern forms of dancing, what have we done to promote Philippine dance to our children?