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Bayanihan shares the limelight with international dance groups at the 10th Fiesta Folkloriada of the Philippines

Folk dances reflect the traditional life of the people. All over the world, folk dances are showcased and used as a form of cultural exchange among nations.
Folk dancing is usually associated with social activities. That’s why no fiesta or festivity in the Philippines is complete without folk dancing.  
Yearly, the Bayanihan Folk Arts Foundation hosts the Fiesta Folkloriada, an international festival of folk dance held in December at the at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Under the auspices of FIDAF (Federation of International Dance Festivals), The Fiesta Folkloriada of the Philippines, a project of the Bayanihan Folk Arts Foundation in partnership with the Ambassador Alfonso T.  Yuchengco Foundation, gathers a select group of five dance companies from the different parts of the globe to conduct cultural exchanges in various parts of the Philippines, teach and learn from each other and perform in a grand finale with the Bayanihan, the national folk dance company of the Philippines, at the CCP.
Now on its 10th year, the Fiesta is presented mainly in the city of Manila. It used to invite 10 top dance companies from around the world.  But for better management and programming, the participants have been set at a maximum of five countries at 20 participants each. The Fiesta is held in December when participants can enjoy a festive atmosphere as this is the time when everyone prepares for Christmas, a very important religious celebration in the Philippines.  

Project director of the Fiesta Folkloriada is Ms. Suzie Moya Benitez, the Local Chairman for Asia, Federation of International Dance Festivals. She is also the Trustee and Executive Director of Bayanihan Folk Arts Foundation and serves as Associate Vice President, Campus Life, Philippine Women’s University and Director of CAMMS (Center for Culture, Arts, Music and Sports).
Benitez welcomed the dance groups from Korea, Italy, Poland, New Zealand and Russia to the Philippine Women’s University campus on Taft Avenue. The Fiesta opened to the sounds of PWU’s Gong Ensemble and a Water Ritual performed by the Bayanihan National Folk Dance Company of the Philippines and alumni of the Bayanihan.
According to Benitez, opening ceremonies vary in setting as it can be held in selected destinations around the Philippines. Performances are also presented in selected schools, universities, hotels, homes of important individuals in Philippine society and business communities, and in towns and cities near Metro Manila.
The members of the Bayanihan serve as guides to the visiting dance companies to ensure that the guests get a taste of the richness of  Philippine cultural heritage and an unforgettable six fun days of personal and professional enrichment and exposure. Part of the itinerary of the various dance groups is the exploration of the Philippines islands and tourist destinations. Boracay and Palawan remain to be favorite spots among them according to Benitez.
Bucheon Dance Group (Korea)

Mali Gorzswiacy Folk Dance Group (Poland)

Abragas Folk Dance Group (Sicily, Italy)
Kun-Micheer Dance Ensemble (Russia)
Tahupotiki Maori Club (New Zealand)

The Grand Finale of Fiesta Folkloriada was held at the CCP on December 18, 2016 featuring the Bucheon Dance Group (Korea), Abragas Folk Dance Group (from Sicily, Italy), Mali Gorzswiacy Folk Dance Group (Poland), Tahupotiki Maori Club (New Zealand), Kun-Micheer Dance Ensemble (Russia) and The Bayanihan, the National Folk Dance Company of the Philippines.

Bayanihan: working together for a common good 
Bayanihan National Folk Dance Company takes its name from an ancient Filipino tradition called Bayanihan, which means working together for a common good. In 1956 Dr. Helena Z Benitez founded the Bayanihan Folk Dance Group of the Philippine Women’s University. The following year, 1957, it was formally organized as the Bayanihan Folk Arts Center with the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company as its performing arm. Both the center and the dance company were tasked to research on and preserve indigenous Philippine art forms in music, dance, costumes and folklore; to restructure and enhance these research findings to evolve repertoires suited to the demands of contemporary theater; and to promote international goodwill through performances at home and abroad.
A multi-awarded company, both nationally and internationally, Bayanihan has awakened a new pride among Filipinos in their cultural heritage; added a new dimension to the country’s dance tradition; and has built a rich reserve of international goodwill.
In appreciation and recognition of their pioneering efforts and international success, the people of the Philippines through the 10th Congress enacted R.A. 8626 declaring the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company as The Philippines National Folk Dance Company. Since then Bayanihan has won 6 Grand prizes in World Dance competitions.

Once a Bayanihan, always a Bayanihan
That has somewhat become the mantra of all those who were involved with the world-renowned Bayanihan Dance Group, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in August 2016. After all, the Bayanihan has not only become a prestigious, if not enviable tag. It is, for its members, a discipline, an education and a lifetime experience.
Starting from a mere dance group entertaining tourists and guests at the PWU in 1957, the Bayanihan has played an important role in Philippine history by taking our native dances and bringing them onto the world stage for all to see. The dancers have become the country’s best-known cultural ambassadors and its alumni, among our most distinguished citizens.
The group conquered sophisticated global audiences, as the Bayanihan promoted the best of Philippine culture and traditions through music and dances. Earning critical acclaim and raves worldwide, they held the audience spellbound and enthralled the world with their talent and artistry.
Among Bayanihan’s distinguished members are Lovely Tecson-Romulo, Rep. Lito Atienza, concert producer Francis Lumen, dance luminaries Eddie Elejar and Tony Fabella, beauty queen Peachy Veneracion, interior designer Edith Oliveros, and the late choreographer Lito Calzado.
Current Bayanihan trustee and executive director Suzie Moya Benitez herself was a Bayanihan dancer. Under her care, Bayahihan staged its 60th anniversary with the production of “@60: Bayanihan’s Diamond Dance-O-Rama.”
The production dramatized Bayanihan’s growth and surveyed its folk-dance innovations at the CCP on August 25-27, 2016. Also launched, during the milestone occasion is the book, “60 years, Fulfilling the Filipino Dream, Touching Lives, Sharing Culture: The Art of Bayanihan,” written by the late Sen. Helena Z Benitez with Suzie herself, and edited by Jose Cabazor.

Ms. Benetiz gave me a copy of the book "60 Years,
Fulfilling the Filipino Dream, Touching Lives,
Sharing Culture: The Art of  Bayanihan" which she personally
signed. With us above are fellow writers who attended
the pocket interview for the Bayanihan trustee.


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