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Parangal Dance Company: Welcome from our Padayon Program Director

By Marlon Dumlao
San Bruno - California
March 6, 2018


In partnership with Kularts’ 2018 Tribal Tour headed by Alleluia Panis, we were first taken to the south to Cotabato, an area filled with the rich and diverse culture of the Maguindanaoan people.  I remember when I first told my mother that I’d be going there, she was nervous and afraid for me.  Like many others who aren’t from Cotabato, my mother had a certain amount of angst about the area because she only knows what’s been propagated via mainstream Filipino media. 

Yes, Cotabato is under martial law, with military checkpoints throughout the city.  Yes, there is a 10pm curfew that curtails travel in and out of the city.  No, not once did I fear for my life nor felt in danger.  In fact, our interactions with the Maguidanaoans were quite the opposite.

The people (from day-to-day citizens to Sultanate dignitaries) were friendly and hospitable; they welcomed us into their homes, greeted us with warmth, nourished our stomachs with bountiful feasts and our souls with amazing stories, and graced us with both music and dance. They had a single unified message — simply put, “We are a peace loving people.  Tell others so that they know.”

While in Cotabato, we took part in a ritual known as Ipat, which typically lasts 7 days or more.  We were privileged to have been immersed in an abbreviated Ipat lasting 3 days.  Though I won’t go into the details about the actual ritual, what I can tell you is that as an outsider looking in, it can appear cultish.  On the first night,  I went into the ritual skeptical, but with an open mind.  For those of us who often feel like we bear the weight of the world on our shoulders, how can we support the weight of an unknown and unfamiliar sprit on top of that?  For a control freak and a planner like me, it’s tough to give in to the unknown so willing and freely.  When entranced, I heard the echoes of my spirit telling me to let go… and when I did, I cried.  For those of you who know me well, you know that I rarely cry happy or sad tears, so I was surprised that I did, and so heavily.

In the comfort of my own room later that night, drained from the experience, I reflected.  I told myself that there was a rational explanation for what had happened to me, trying to resolve it by coming up with “something” that I could hold on to that would explain it all, but I couldn’t.  The manifestations of the ritual came out differently for each of us — some cried, some convulsed, some danced.  In fact, some became so weak they couldn’t bear to sit up any longer and fell to their backs, and some just bore witness to what was happening around them, lost in the solitude of their own thoughts.  I told myself it was just a fluke, that I was caught up in the mysticism of the ritual and that was it — until I cried again, and again, on separate occasions during the 3-day ritual.  I can’t explain what happened, but I’ve come out of the experience knowing that my intentions were heard and some of the deep burdens that I once felt were now lifted.

Truly exhausted from our 3rd day of Ipat, we mustered up the energy that evening to have a dance and music workshop with Faisal’s dance troupe, Salamindanao Dance Company. We were honored to learn Kadsanduayan, a Maguidanoan friendship dance for women, which we will debut in Padayon.  So, prepare yourself ladies, this dance is definitely one to look out for!   On a personal note, several of us took the liberty of ordering traditional Sagayan attire, which will also be debuted in our 10th Anniversary Show!

From Catabato, we made our way north to Kalinga, where we were greeted by the Bawer family.  Not only were we introduced to Ate Jenny’s family, but to her father, Cirilo Bawer (aka Papa).  He welcomed us to his farm and home on the Lamagen Luminawa mountaintop.  We broke bread with him and his family on a section of the mountain where we could clearly see the Chico River, the water that nurtures life for the people of Bontoc, Kalinga, and Isabela in Cagayan.  Papa recounted stories of his struggle and fight to get Kalinga natives to take pride in being Kalinga and to cherish the richness of their culture and heritage.

This trip was definitely a learning experience for me, as I’m sure it was for everyone.  It opened my eyes as to why we do what we do at PDC and what it means and represents to me personally.  As we are about to embark on our 10-year Anniversary show “Padayon” I urge each and every one of you to reflect on what it means to you to be Filipino/Filipino-American, to appreciate the culture we are trying so hard to preserve and promote.  I guarantee you we’ve only scratched the surface and what’s to come will be truly amazing … and I can’t wait to share it with each of you, my brothers and sisters.

Papa told us something very special and heartfelt and I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to him than to share his sentiments with all of you.  “You will always pay tribute to the whole Philippines.  I like to believe it that way.  You are the people who bring the message of who we are, what we are.  You are the very people who give context to the spirit of the Filipino people.”   So, continue doing what you’re doing and be proud of who you are because you make a difference!  And, always remember…Dancing fills the stage, but music fills the theater.
Here we come Herbst Theater — Padayon is going to be in you!!

Maraming maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat! 
Marlon Dumlao

Culture Bearer Faisal Monal: Maguindanao

As a traditional musician, he became a delegate to the national music competition for young artists (NAMCYA) in Laoag City, Philippines (2000) representing the Maguindanao Province of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. His kulintang group has been invited by Kularts (San Francisco, CA) as Philippine Master Artists in Residence and has performed several times in America in venues such as Asia Alive!, the Asian Art Museum (San Francisco, CA), Towson University (Maryland), University of California Los Angeles, and University of California Berkley, Yerba Buena Gardens (San Francisco, CA), and Brava Theater (San Francisco, CA). Faisal's teachings and guidance in legends, songs, dances, and chants have helped Parangal present Maguindanaoan legend, Sayap, at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival (2013), Folkmoot International Festival (North Carolina, USA), Folkfaro International Festival (Portugal), Villablanca Festival (Spain) and at performances in New York including Carnegie Hall, The Philippine Center, Times Square and local performances at Philippine Culture Night - USF Kasamahan and St. Ignatius High School, Kapwa of Loyola University Chicago and workshops with Little Manila Dance Collective in Stockton and HATAW in Toronto, Canada.

Padayon will feature dances inspired by Fasial's teachings including Kadsanduayan, a Maguidanoan friendship dance, and Sagayan (featured on poster), a dance that recalls the heroic exploits of Prince Bantugan in the Dalangen epic.

For more info:
Parangal Dance Company

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