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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

A journey through childhood summers and indigenous games in dance films

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When life gets tough, I often yearn for simpler days and reminisce about summers past. Recently, while chatting over tea and coffee with a friend, old memories of my carefree childhood flooded back

Summer was always filled with excitement. As soon as school ended, my internal clock flipped. Unlike the school days when my mother struggled to wake me, during summer I woke naturally with the first light, eager to meet friends at the bakery or corner store.

Those days were spent playing whatever games we fancied, under the blazing sun, oblivious to its heat. We played football or volleyball with neighborhood older brothers coaching us and rode bikes around the block.

Returning home sometimes meant discovering we’d lost our slippers while raiding neighbors’ fruit trees. We’d throw our slippers to knock down mangoes, duhat, or carmays, eating them right away.

I recall being the “mother” in Chinese garter, leaping as high as possible, and the rhythmic counting of teks and pogs. Making pamato in tau-tauhan, playing piko and step-in, we’d end up covered in dust and our shirts stained from holen or dampa.

As they say, childhood memories could sneak up on you when you least expect them, bringing a nostalgic feeling and sometimes a smile to your face. Reading about the Tara, Laro Ta(y)o dance films makes me nostalgic for my childhood, remembering the traditional games we used to play.

Featuring six dance films, the Tara, Laro Ta(y)o project explores how the joyous spirit of traditional games can be woven and intertwined with the dynamism of Philippine indigenous dances. Inspired by the traditional games of selected Philippine Indigenous communities from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the featured dances are: Mali, a Dumagat traditional dance; Koirdas di la Bordon of Cuyo, Palawan; Sipit-sipit from Eastern Samar; Kikembe from Cuartero, Capiz; Kasipa sa Manggis from Marawi, Lanao del Sur; and Buwa-buwan of Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.

Director Benhur Abulencia’s ‘Kasipa sa Manggis’ features the Sining Kambayoka Ensemble

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) believes in the vital role of dance and the arts in Filipino life. They champion Filipino dance and arts to preserve and promote the diverse heritage of Philippine dance. 

In Roberto P. Ramirez, Jr.’s film, a player strives to win a traditional game and unexpectedly captures the heart of his opponent, despite not winning the game himself.

In another scene, players engage in Koirdas di la Bordon, a game passed down through generations, to keep spirits awake during wakes. Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group performs this poignant dance film, directed and choreographed by Percival V. Carel.

Originating from Taft, Eastern Samar, Sipit-sipit translates a traditional game into a lively cultural expression. The film, directed by Jerry E. Mores and Mark Doclotero, features Samleyaw Performing Arts Group mimicking the act of placing slippers in various body parts.

Kikembe, a group game from Cuartero, Capiz, involves children forming circles, tangling hands and feet, and creating formations while chanting. Directed by Jocelyn Mayo and Ramie Capuyan, Agdahanay Folkloric Group showcases this game, choreographed by Rose Hallegado and Cute Candelario.

In Kasipa sa Manggis, players kick a rattan ball (sipa) to hit hanging manggis on bamboo, competing for victory. Benhur Abulencia directs Sining Kambayoka Ensemble, narrating the journey of a Meranaw boy through Kasipa games and discovering family values.

Agusan Manobo and Lapakonon Manobo children play Buwa-buwan, an outdoor game where runners try to outpace the “taya.” Hugis Dance Project presents this game in Butuan City, choreographed by Dariel Endencia and Railey Clark Baring, and directed by Carlito Amalla and Gerard Hechanova.

The Hugis Dance Project presents the game ‘Buwa-buwan’ in Carlito Amalla and Gerard Hechanova’s dance film

Complemented by videos exploring origins, attire, music, and gameplay, each film underscores CCP’s commitment to preserving and promoting folk and indigenous arts. They also harness modern technology to create instructional videos and books documenting unpublished dances nationwide, ensuring cultural legacies endure.

“The long-term plan is to create a comprehensive archive of Philippine dances, ensuring that future generations will deeply understand and appreciate our culture and heritage. We aim to distribute these manuals and instructional materials to educational institutions and libraries in the Philippines,” said CCP President Kaye C. Tinga.

In partnership with the Philippine Folk Dance Society and the City Government of San Jose Del Monte, the CCP will screen the Tara, Laro Ta(y)o films on June 25, at the Convention Center, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. Coinciding with the launch is the 42nd National Folk Dance Workshop, slated for June 24 to 28.

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