The successful airing of Sahaya, the first drama series about the saga of a Badjao community in Tawi-Tawi, may be considered a milestone in Philippine TV broadcasting. The primetime drama series aired from March 2019 to Sep 2019. Tackling the issues of the Sama Dilaut / Badjao with fidelity to cultural traditions and heritage of the indigenous group was a brave attempt that paid off. GMA earned much praise and encouragement from netizens and televiewers who became loyal viewers of the show.
The AlunAlun Dance Circle was tapped in training the lead actors in the traditional dance of the Sama Dilaut which is igal, also known as pangalay and pansak. Nannette Matilac, ADC’s managing director and a pangalay/igal dance teacher trained in the Amilbangsa Instruction Method (AIM) held dance lessons starting in Nov 2019 up to March 2019.
Bianca Umali who played Sahaya, Miguel Tanfelix who played Ahmad, and Jasmine Curtis who played the young mother of Sahaya named Manisan took the dance lessons quite seriously. Learning the slow and meditative traditional style was not easy, especially on those with untrained knees, arms, and hands. Jasmine Curtis learned a short version of pangalay/igal pangantin for scene wherein the she as a bride danced after the wedding.
Bianca Umali learned the basic movement vocabulary such as researched by master teacher Ligaya F. Amilbangsa. Some of these are walu (figure of 8), various kollek-kollek (turning of the hands / transition movements), nilimbayan or alternate swaying of the arms in various directions, as well as various footwork. Miguel Tanfelix worked on low stances that characterize the male posture, and male gestures and movements that imitate the movements of a rooster called pangasik.
Bianca Umali and Miguel Tanfelix had to master a choreography about courtship which they performed in one of the important and memorable scenes of the drama series.
All the lead stars who took the rigid dance training were able to perform well, adding authenticity and credibility to the show. Learning the basic movement vocabulary based on the AIM breathing techniques as well as preparation for the dancing through proper limbering exercises for the helped the actors perform the igal / panglay
Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa was also tapped as a consultant about dance, visual arts, cultural traditions, costumes, props, makeup. She gave a workshop and lecture to the production design team of Sahaya. Her grounbreaking books, Pangalay and Ukkil, were used as important references for the show.