By Nannette Matilac, ADC Managing Director
with additional article by Rama Marcaida, ADC member
Ten years of learning, dancing, teaching, and spreading pangalay went by like the gentle breeze that cooled the sultry afternoon when we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the AlunAlun Dance Circle (ADC) on 25 April 2010. We did not feel a decade had passed, having imbibed the dance’s timeless mode. The dance taught us to honor the present, making it a gift we had to share with relatives, friends, artists, Filipino society, humanity, and the Earth.
The idea of celebrating was a spontaneous one. In the spirit of sharing and giving back to the Life Force and Breath that is the origin of pangalay, we thought that the best time to celebrate our 10th year was within the week of Earth Day, April 22. But the celebration must be on a Sunday, like regular pangalay classes which were held routinely on Sunday afternoons. The venue must be the studio, the space that nurtured beautiful ideas and choreographies for the past ten years.
“Let’s keep it simple,” Mariel Francisco, Temay Padero and myself, agreed. We were the “committee” that decided on the preliminary planning of the 10th anniversary, about twelve days before the event. The committee had to wait for the following Sunday class, April 18, before a decision could be made by a quorum because Ligaya Amilbangsa was in Tawitawi, CB Garrucho was in France, Rama Marcaida was in Surigao, and Punch Gavino was busy checking term papers. Sunday class came and those present agreed that the event on April 25 must push through: It was Earth Week and the moon was waxing its way to fullness, a good time to celebrate. The decision was a unanimous and optimistic “yes.” But can we do it, seven days before the event? We hadn’t done much except the copy of the invitation with a beautiful tag line: “Jamming for the Earth’s Well-being– Let our dance, music and poetry soothe Mother Nature’s lamentations.”
Like a subtle attack of asthma, everyone became disturbed with the reality of an impending major event with last minute preparation. We could not concentrate on dancing, assaulted by the reality of linear time: it was barely a week before April 25! We aborted our dancing to plot out the guest list, the menu, the program, the production design, and the technical aspects of holding a garden event. We felt a real sense of accomplishment after chancing upon Kuya Ed, a Mamang Sorbetero who tinkered his bell outside the studio, and immediately commissioned him to be the event’s giver of bottomless ice cream. Then we arranged a deal with a neighbor who owns a videoke machine, to ensure a viable sound system for the show. Next instant, the caterer who lived nearby came and promised to be in charge of food and beverages.
The same Sunday night, visual artist Mithi Lacaba, excited with the idea of “Jamming for the Earth’s Well-being,” came up with a beautiful design utilizing powerful images of a hand with janggay (metal claws) and the planet Earth. The 10th Anniversary invitation with the Earth and janggay logo was circulated through the Internet, a fast way to invite people. And thanks to text messaging, the group sent out advance invitations while streamlining the event preparations
As the event drew near, there were so many “what ifs” that made us feel anxious and uncertain. The most dreaded of them all is: What if no one came to the celebration because of the short notice? But we stuck to our resolutions: Let’s enjoy. Dance for ourselves. No fanfare. Honor the moment. Go with the flow.
And it worked! All the people who were meant to be there, came. Many brought along relatives, friends, and children of all ages. There was a relaxing atmosphere of family togetherness and camaraderie. The venue was just perfect. The green grass carpeted the two-tiered grounds, origami butterflies dotted the garden, and the scent of the lighted incense gave a spiritual tone as the ceremony opened with a simple ritual to bless and express gratitude to Mother Earth.
Two groups of musicians (Pangalay Artists Circle and Musika Sofia) alternately played neo-ethnic and classical pieces. Dancers, writers, filmmakers, religious, teachers, restaurateurs, neighbors, relatives, and friends participated in the solemn Earth ceremony and the spontaneous pangalay tutorial. The pangalay dance numbers were unstructured and very much appreciated whether with poetry or with music.
Many things conspired to make that day perfect. Guests exceeded the expected number, but strangely, provisions from a tiny budget were bountiful and flowing: Pinoy ice cream, vegetarian lumpia, heavenly sandwiches, juicy barbecue, sago and gulaman, delightful puto, and the mandatory pancit for long life. The weather was glorious. The summer sun was intense but the continuous breeze cooled the air. Mother Nature communicated her happiness as we paid our respects to Earth through our dance, music, poetry, and care for the environment. –Nannette Matilac
By Rama Marcaida
April 25, 2010, Antipolo City– It was a gathering of families, friends, artists, supporters, and admirers of pangalay. The youngest was Bea, four months old, who was attentive and wide-eyed during the whole event. Who knows? Maybe this early, she imbibed the music and gestures of pangalay, and later would become a pangalay dancer herself.
Some 20 dancers, from youngsters to elder citizens, danced pangalay, breathing as one, and giving life to our distinct heritage. It was nothing short of wonder. A decade of active existence is a joyous achievement, especially because the jubilation is about the survival of an endangered dance form being kept alive in Metro Manila, where the dance is carefully nurtured with love, like the healthy plants and flowers that thrive in Ligaya Amilbangsa’s garden.
How could the dance style continue to exist far away from its original territory, the Sulu Archipelago, where it used to thrive 40 years ago? How could the dance survive when one of its ethnic roots, the Sama Dilaut of Sulu, have long sought refuge in squatters colonies like those along the railroad tracks in Biñan, Laguna; and, some have settled inconspicuously under the depressing shadow of the long bridge between Rosales and Villasis, Pangasinan? How could the dance tradition endure when it is now performed to beg alms from indifferent commuters inside crowded buses, by vagrant Bajau children, dressed in faded patajung, to the frenzied pounding on improvised PVC-pipe drums?
Notwithstanding this reality, the pangalay continues to beat in the hearts of the members of the AlunAlun Circle. Our weekly Sunday afternoon sessions restore the link between the present practitioners and the original pangalay dancers of yesteryears. Even just for this, we are truly grateful.
The ultimate dream is for the AlunAlun Dance Circle to, one day, re-introduce the dance as preserved by Ligaya Amilbangsa, back to where it originally sprung, in the remote islands of the Sulu Archipelago. When that happens, it would be an event worthy of an even larger festivity for us.
Helping to restore a treasure back to where it once was a healthy and living tradition is a goal that the AlunAlun Dance Circle wants to achieve with other cultural workers in the Sulu Archipelago. Furthermore, it would be a crime against humanity if the oppressed indigenous people of Southern Philippines like the Sama Dilaut are forever deprived of their cultural heritage. They have the birthright to dance and claim their freedom back in their homeland, as refugees no more.
This is a wish, not of one person, but of everyone whose heart reverberates with the spiritual drone of the bula-bula, kulintangan and agung. Personally, I raise and extend a janggay-ed hand for the realization of this dream. I will dance pangalay until my mission ends with my last dance. But for now, we are thankful that we are able to dance, sustain and perform pangalay.
We acknowledge the individuals who brought out pangalay from obscurity. Ms. Nannette Matilac who pursued Ligaya Amilbangsa’s life mission to share her priceless knowledge of pangalay, and to others who followed her footsteps, led by the ancient spirit of dance ancestors, and in so doing become repositories and culture-bearers of this nearly-forgotten Filipino dance – C.B., Punch, Mariel, Temay, Bobbie, Auchie, Joy, Louanne, Roseanne, Matthew, Mahail, Jimo, Nerisa, Mannex, Tif, Lidia, this writer included – all members and students, past and present of AlunAlun Dance Circle.
To Ms. Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa, the valiant culture-bearer who came forth with the Promethean fire that is Pangalay, who dedicated her whole life to the preservation and propagation of this sacred dance–we say: “Maraming salamat po!” We look to the future, to another ten years of blissful dancing.
Congratulations Ligaya FernandoAmilbangsa and the AlunAlun Dance Circle!
Mabuhay ang sayaw ng lahing Pilipino! Mabuhay ang Pangalay!
–written May 7, 2010 by Rama Marcaida
AlunAlun Dance Circle’s 10th Anniversary: Jamming for the Earth’s Well-Being
Ode to Earth
AlunAlun Dance Circle (ADC)
Ceremony led by Mariel Francisco with dancers: Gimo Angeles, Tif Guevara, Rose Anne Jasareno, Rama Marcaida, Temay Padero, and Mannex Siapno,; CB Garrucho with Children of Lopezville: Rozan Trishia Aliwalas, Julie Anne Cristi, Ira Andrea Gaviosa and Claire Adeleine Mendoza
What is Pangalay?
Pangalay Artists Circle of Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) and AlunAlun Dance Circle (ADC)
EAC: Levi Azarcon, Christoper Barredo, Mavic Bunayog, Ria Bautista, Joan Co, Pamela Corres, Mark Granada, Jerome Joco and Jane Kathlene Mamplata
ADC: Rose Ann Jasareno, Gimo Angles, Rama Marcaida and Mannex Siapno
Dance imitating movementsof a bird using janggay or metal claws
led by Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa with pangalay advocates, Matthew Santamaria and Nerisa Guevara, and ADC dancers Louanne Calipayan and Rama Marcaida
Haiku and Dance
Poetry by Roger Mangahas with translation by Marne Kilates
Read by Roger Mangahas and Fe Mangahas
dance interpretation by AlunAlun Dance Circle: Gimo Angeles, Punch Gavino, Mariel Francisco, Rose Anne Jasareno, Rama Marcaida, Temay Padero and Mannex Siapno
Music by Gilopez Kabayao
Solo dance by Nannette Matilac
Poetry by Benilda Santos
dance interpretation by AlunAlun Dance Circle
Pangalay for Everyone
Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa with
the participation of dancers and audience
Live music by Pangalay Artists Circle musicians
“I Love My Country, Philippines”
Music by Yoyoy Villame
AlunAlun Dance Circle
Ligaya Amilbangsa, Gimo Angeles, Mariel Francisco, Pacita Gavino, Rose Ann Jasareno, Rama Marcaida, Temay Padero and Mannex Siapno
Toast for AlunAlun’s 10th Year
Symbolic toast by 10 people representing groups, sectors, institutions
Ligaya Amilbangsa for ADC, Edna Manlapaz for Ateneo Library of Women Writers (ALIWW), Gina Gil for Ateneo University Press, Fe Mangahas for women’s sector, Amihan Abueva for children’s sector, Ria Bautista for EAC Pangalay Artists Circle, Steve Villaruz for UP Dance Program and World Dance Alliance, Ms. Corazon G. Iñigo, president of the Philippine National Counseil International des Organisations de Folklore et d’ Arts Traditionnel (CIOFF), Matthew Santamaria as proxy for Ben Suzuki of Japan Foundation, Nini Matilac for mass media
JAMMING for Mother Earth
Recorders: Mark Abesa, Lisa Decenteceo, Rinna Soriano, Dino Guadalupe
Harpsichord: Joy Guadalupe
Pangalay Artists Circle musicians:
Roselier Azarcon, Mark Anthony Castillo, James Galo, Leo Hsieh, Paolo Macarubbo, Bobby Madubuike, Ujwal Shrestha
Artistic Director: Ligaya F. Amilbangsa
Host: CB Garrucho
Technical Director: Nini Matilac
Graphic Artist: Mithi Winona Lacaba
We would like to thank those who came: nature lovers, environment workers, feminists, human rights advocates, child rights workers, artists, expats, former students of pangalay, pangalay advocates, teachers, and friends. Some of them were: Steve Villaruz and Cora Inigo who are now revered personalities in Philippine dance; Paul Morales, artistic director of Ballet Philippines; Jim Ward, owner of Bliss Café in Baguio City; Chrissie Matheson, expat; Gari Buenavista, photographer and graphic artist; Alvin and Pilar Soriano, owners of Diego’s Pizza of Marikina; Mr. Chito Francisco of Alliance for Mindanao Off-grid Renewable Energy (AMORE) Program; Lormi Lazo and daughter; Lyvia Martinez and Nora of Bali Hai Restaurant, Ms. Gina Gil, Ateneo University Press; Ms. Edna Manlapaz, ALIWW; Dr. Marife Yap, Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health; Fr. Mike Lambino, S.J. of Jesuit Residence with friends; Ms. Linda M. Tajonera; Lee, Sarah and Phoenix Tajonera; Milo and Cynthia Paz, ADC videographers since the beginning; Lucille Quiambao, freelance broadcast producer; Miriam Lacaba, artist; Priscilla Teodoro, visual artist; Jamaica San Pedro and Jeff Gonzales of I Love You Store; Dena Fernandez, concert marimbist and PPO member; Pearlsha Abubakar, writer and composer; Robert Quebral, TV director and filmmaker; Amihan Abueva, child rights advocate and regional director of Asia ACTs; pangalay advocates and former students of pangalay: Matthew Santamaria, Auchie Villaraza, and Nerisa Guevara; Prof. Julkipli Wadi of UP; Joy Wadi, pangalay student who came with daughters; Fe Mangahas and Roger Mangahas; Musika Sofia of the UP College of Music, Pangalay Artists Circle of Emilio Aguinaldo College; our loved ones who supported us for the last ten years; and, the neighbours in Lopezville.
Many also sent their congratulations and good wishes through text messages and e-mail, saying that AlunAlun has done a good job in keeping pangalay alive. They could not come due to previous commitments, or were out of town. But they were with us in intention and spirit: Malou Jacob, Executive Director of NCCA; Dr. Ricky Abad of ADMU; Ben Suzuki of Japan Foundation; Ambassador Jose Zaide; Ambassador Laura Q. Del Rosario; Dr. Benilda Santos (who was sick but wrote a poem for the occasion); Gardy Labad, theatre artist and cultural worker; Carmen Cabling, writer and environment advocate; Ellen Ongkeko, filmmaker and independent producer; Perry Dizon, theatre artist and ADC’s stage manager for many years; Upeng Galang of PETA; Brenda Fajardo, visual artist; Mary Joan Fajardo, child educator and artist; PETA-MTTL members who studied pangalay; Wayland Quintero, Hawaii-based theatre artist; Chloe Bernardo, pangalay student now studying in the US; Peanuts Panares of DepEd; Cynthia Lumbera, writer-editor; Fr. Rene Javellana, S.J., Ms. Carmel Daez, among others.
Thank you and congratulations to all of us for a successful Jamming for the Earth’s Well-being!