I'm just a small fish in a small corner of this big Laguna, and this is how I've been swimming it

04 February, 2013

Worship and Dance: Filipino Style, Korean Style

     From where I stood by a friend's home in her village last Saturday, the "Caracol" or procession in honor of St. John Bosco appeared bright, colorful, but lacking in participation.  Maybe the rain shower a few minutes before kept people away, but really, even earlier in the day it was clear that residents were not home.  The feast of St. John Bosco was on January 31, and the parish church, Don Bosco, held various activities over the weekend.  Although the ladies who danced through the street looked marvelous in their bright satins gowns, with hats and hair accessories to match, I found it sad that there were very few youth in attendance.  While in my opinion taking out a loan to participate in the usually lavish Filipino fiesta is outdated, I feel we need to honor our traditions and continue to celebrate them.  Gone are the rondallas, the folk dance classes and Balagtasan from our private schools.  I'm sad for our children, who are losing this aspect of our 'culture' to modern interpretations.

     It was at least interesting to note that the statues of the saint held up by the participants were simple wooden sculptures.

      This procession was to meet one at the next village.  Sorry to say we did not attend it and thus do not know what it was like.

The 3rd Sta. Rosa Korean-Philippine Concert
     There was an interesting poster in South Supermarket the past month, inviting the public to a Korean-Philippine Concert. The photo featured a string quartet composed of lovely Korean ladies.  Such a concert was certainly something we wanted to attend.  It was held also last Saturday, at the Laguna Bel-air School auditorium.  The concert had free admission, and it was organized by the Church of Dreams.  To be honest, I had more of a sense of my faith and worship during this show.  I suppose it's the novelty of a different culture and manner of presentation. I'm pretty certain it was also because the strings were really good.

     Translation of the pastor's sermon was also entertaining.  We arrived on time to find that they were on the so-called Filipino time and the show did not begin until nearly an hour later.  There were so many chairs set up, yet few people, that I wondered how many would come.  Later, Koreans and Filipinos nearly filled the auditorium.  The Filipinos who came were mostly friends of the community, headed by the Laguna Bel-air tennis club.  We ourselves saw one family who lives near us, and whose young son has always been so friendly with us.  Clearly, as with us, there are also different types of Korean families and groups in the country. I say this because I don't like it when I hear people categorizing others and generalizing about particular cultures and their characteristics.   Just recently another kind of foreigner candidly complained to me about another race. While his comments were based on his own experiences, it also wasn't fair for him to generalize.  

      If you have been living here the past fifteen years but haven't noticed how the South Koreans have been 'invading' the Philippines then I don't know where you have been.  When I was growing up, in Pasay City we had Indian neighbors.  Our parents' generation had the Japanese gardeners (who were later said to allegedly be 'spies' sent as advance parties prior to WWII).  IN Makati my husband and I lived in a place where candles would be decorating the garages in the evening of Diwali. Now my child wears Korean hair accessories and a few clothes, eats Korean food and regularly greets playmates with the shortcut "anyeong".
        Many Koreans, I know, excel in string instruments.  So we had high expectations for the quartet and they delighted in every way.  For one thing, they played music that the audience appreciated, not the complicated pieces meant for serious concertos.  There were folk songs and Children's songs, Tangos, and the encore, B Rosette which the violinist said is from a popular Korean drama series.  The song certainly sounded familiar even if I hardly ever watched any of those.    

     The Kairos Mission Dancing Team were a joy to watch.  The ladies are lovely, graceful, and the costumes so pretty. The silky skirts swirl, and the numerous twirls of the traditional dances reminded me of whirling dervishes.  Indeed, the connection is both are spiritual, religious expressions.

     The youth modern dance number was typical of our local Christian groups', complete with a rap in the middle, in English, by a teenage boy. This part made me think of Gary V's son. The "play" depicting Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, while simple, was was quite powerful as the dancers used their bodies and facial expressions well. Like I said, I experienced a renewal of my faith with this show.

      Finally, I wonder if it is a Korean thing, but hard candies were tossed from  kaings onto our heads at the end of the show. It was good fun but of course we had to bow lest our faces get hit.

      Before the show started, my husband commented that he felt we were in a small town somewhere in rural Japan, or just some small community in another country. Certainly, the fresh air of the open auditorium, the simple stage, warm hosts and different kind of dances all contributed to the small-town atmosphere.  

         I will load videos of some dances next post.

Quartet Su

Fan Dance

Taepyoung Mu
The Empress danced this for peace and prosperity in the country.

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