“The Filipino people want to give back to our friends in America, so in partnership with the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities, we are presenting this special performance by the Bayanihan,” said Mrs. Ma. Victoria J. Cuisia, wife of Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., who initiated the project as part of the embassy’s cultural diplomacy thrusts.
Members of the Bayanihan rendered traditional Philippine songs and dance numbers to an appreciative audience that included Chairman, Judith Terra, and Executive Director, Lionell Thomas of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. The performances brought smiles to those in the crowd and let them have a sneak peek into an aspect of Philippine culture.
“It was great. The singing and dancing were incredible. We really had a great time,” said Chris Esta, a career Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State, who is being assigned to the US Embassy in Manila.
Jesse Gatchalian of the Migrant Heritage Commission also brought to the show a number of his friends who were not able to purchase tickets to the sold-out performances of the Bayanihan at the Kennedy Center on November 3 and 4.
“It was a really good show, a super performance. The choreography was fantastic and the colorful costumes were a terrific sight,” Gatchalian remarked.
Always a crowd favorite, the Bayanihan closed with a demonstration of the Tinikling, with the children in the audience happily volunteering to give the national dance a try.
“It was amazing. They were so multi-faceted, with the performers able to both sing and dance. They really showed us a lot about the diversity of Filipino history and culture. It was a great experience,” said Julius Ty, another Foreign Service Officer from the State Department, who is also scheduled to leave soon to assume his new post in the Philippines.
The New York and Washington, D.C. performances of the Bayanihan were made possible through the efforts of the Philippine Embassy and the newly-formed US-Philippines Society with the support of Philippine Airlines; Henry Howard of the US Education Finance Group; Loida Nicolas Lewis of Lewis College; Josie Natori of the Natori Company; Lin Ilusorio-Bildner of the Albert and Lin Bildner Foundation; Richard Lee of the Covenant Car Company; Henry Sy Jr. of SM Development Corporation; Vonage; ABS-CBN Global; Megaworld International; and Dr. Norman and Mrs. Lourdes San Agustin.
Founded in 1957 by Dr. Helena Benitez, the troupe was officially designated the National Folk Dance Company of the Philippines by an act of Congress in 2000. Since its founding, the Bayanihan has mounted 15 large-scale international tours and over a hundred brief tours to international events and festivals, covering 55 countries on five continents.
The Bayanihan has the distinction of being the first Filipino group to perform on Broadway; the first non-American dance company to take to the stage at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; and the first Philippine cultural group to perform in Russia, the People’s Republic of China, and throughout South America. ###