“It was epic, nerve wrecking and just purely awesome”.
These are just a few of the best words the audience used to describe our group’s performance. “You should have been the champions!”. We are, in the heart of everyone.
The day started early for all of us checking on each other, making sure every props and costume are complete and all set. “This is it.” was the phrase of the day. I can feel everyone getting excited and tensed at the same time. In the morning, we had to do a run through and a quick rehearsal with the other groups. At the venue, we saw how beautiful and creative their props are. I heard their music and we knew that our only way to win is through determination, the existing love we have for our craft and talent we were gifted with.
Past 8:00 pm, the event started. You cannot imagine how great all the other contestants were. We were in awe. And then it was our turn.
I always tell the girls that they look really pretty in the costume because they are. It was colorful (doesn’t look like in the photo, the light director used red light the whole time ), it was happy and festive. As a Batanguena, I am especially proud of this dance as it takes me back to my roots.
Cheiftan and Banga/ Salidsid
A powerhouse, the dance originated from the Cordillera region. These are some of my favorites be it as a dancer or as the audience. I have been performing folk dances since 16 years old and this particular suite still sends chills to my spine.
The Banga Salidsid gave me the biggest fright of my entire dancing career. Something happened to my Banga that delayed my entrance and scared the hell out of me and my partner, Adrian. Someone tried to mess it up; they failed. In the middle of the dance, I felt light-headed, unfocused and purely scared. And then Ian whispered: “Alalay lang.” (Take it easy). The Banga was not properly stacked.
I can hear the people screaming, just as frightened as I am. But I can feel them thrilled and excited. The beat of the music went faster and so I stood up with the Banga on top of my head. I balanced, almost tripped but had to endure the fright I have in my chest. As I stood up and carried the precious Bange, the crowd cheered, shouted, whistled and clapped and it made me smile inside. “I can do this,” I told myself; and so I did.
I saw them, my co-dancers, all smiles and at ease. They, too, were scared. It felt really great to see and watch them dancing their hearts out. “We already won,” I said while listening to the audiences shouting, cheering.
We got the first runner-up award. Sad? NO. We are more than happy. We are delighted, we feel blessed and most importantly we felt like we are the winners. Very few of the audiences know us, probably 10, fewer even. But I know I heard a whole crowd clap. Yes, we did win.
The opportunity that was given to us, the talent, the cheers of the crowd and each of our families who supported endlessly is more than enough to be thankful for. To dance again with my brothers and sisters (my sister, literally), to make every people in that hall happy, terrified and entertained, to show them the real culture of the Philippines; all of these are our main goal. We achieved it.
I would personally like to thank Sir Rodel and Sir Erich for the upbringing that they did to us. We are more than proud of you for making us love our culture. Thank you! We owe all of this to you. And to Former Mayora Anacorita Portugal for the beautiful costumes she let us use. Maraming maraming salamat po!
Hindi ito ang huli. We will keep on dancing. We are The Lahing Batangan Dance Troupe.