The first ever Philippine Barangay Folk Dance Troupe (PBFDT) takes center stage and showcases Filipino Talent and creativity in the performing arts in New Zealand
For the first time, the Philippine Baranggay Folk Dance Troupe (PBFDT) was brought to New Zealand by the Embassy of the Philippines in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the New Zealand Filifest Cultural Group Inc on 10-23 June 2014. The PBFDT is the longest running folk dance troupe in the Philippines and has been showcasing the rich cultural history of the Philippines throughout the world for 65 years now. The PBFDT is one of the Philippines’ leading dance companies with a boundless repertoire of Philippine native dances which accentuates the local colour of the country’s rural areas and accurately presents the story of the Philippine culture through a panorama of songs, dances and music.
A multi-awarded company, both nationally and internationally, the PBFDT has awakened the pride among Filipinos in New Zealand in their cultural heritage and has generated a rich reservoir of cultural goodwill among the wider multicultural society of New Zealand during its highly successful engagements in New Zealand. As a special treat for the 2014 Independence Day celebrations in Wellington, the PBFDT performed a heart-warming and nostalgic repertoire of Philippine cultural dances during the 12 June 2014 celebration of the 116th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence with the Filipino Community at Elim International Church in Wellington as well as during the diplomatic reception hosted by Philippine Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez which was attended by nearly four hundred guests from the Diplomatic Corps, Government of New Zealand, Parliament, business sector, academe, churches, various organizations and associations, members of the Filipino community and distinguished guests at Old St. Paul’s, the historic and iconic landmark in Wellington, on 19 June 2014.
The PBFDT, in coordination with New Zealand Filifest Cultural Group Inc. also undertook cultural outreach programs with New Zealand schools. On 12 June 2014, the PBFDT conducted shows and cultural dance workshop sessions with the students of Wainuiomata Intermediate School, Pukeatua School and Wainuiomata Primary School in Lower Hutt. A highly appreciated and interactive dance workshop session with Whitireia New Zealand, a government-owned tertiary institution offering academic programmes from certificate to post graduate level, was also held by PBFDT at the Whitireia Dance Theatre in Wellington on 17 June 2014. The PBFDT was welcomed by the Whitireia dance troupe with a Maori performance which was followed by a dance workshop showcasing commercial, traditional and cultural dances by both the Whitireia dance troupe and the PBFDT. A public workshop open to the Filipino community in Wellington was also held by the PBFDT and New Zealand Filifest Cultural Group Inc. at the Polish Hall in Newtown on 22 June 2014.
The PBFDT and the New Zealand Filifest Cultural Group Inc. also took the cultural show on the road. They visited Rotorua where they showcased Philippine dances in celebration of the 116th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence on 14 June 2014 at the Rotorua Girls High School. The Filipino community and the wider multicultural community of Rotorua enjoyed a Filipino cultural evening with the PBFDT’s selection of ethnic and traditional dances from the varied regions of the Philippines. Napier’s Municipal Theatre also came alive with Philippine culture and colors with the PBFDT’s well-received performance in Hawke’s Bay on 15 June 2014. The Hawke’s Bay’s Filipino community proudly sponsored the performance and provided the Hawke’s Bay community with Philippine traditional music and dance as a way to say thank you to the people of Hawkes Bay for their generosity and kindness in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
A final showcase of the PBFDT’s cultural performances was at a matinée and gala performance at the Sacred Heart College Performing Arts Centre in Lower Hutt on 21 June 2014. Both performances were sold out and were held to the great delight and resounding applause of the audience. The array of dances and music were constructed in suites which explored the ways that geography and other cultures have influenced Philippine traditions. They began with ancient tribal dances from the mountain highlands of Northern Luzon and progressed to the influences of Spanish rule over the Philippines from the early 16th to the late 19th centuries. The Spanish-influenced dances were clearly reflected in the Spanish-based costumes, with their wide bouffant skirts and fringed shawls, topped with Philippine blouses. The last portion of the performance highlighted the countryside suite which shows the Filipino people's love for dance, nature’s bounty and for joyful country living. The suite concludes with the most famous of all the Philippine dances, the Tinikling, inspired by the long legged Tikling bird where the dancers imitate the bird’s movements, moving at ever increasing speeds through bamboo poles that are clapped together and against the ground in varying rhythms.
Many of the Filipinos in the audience were moved to tears as they joined the resounding rounds of applause and shouts of “bravo” and “well-done” for the excellent and heart-warming performance of the PBFDT. They reiterated their gratitude to the Philippine Embassy, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the New Zealand Filifest Cultural Group Inc. for organizing “the best, most enjoyable and culturally enriching” Philippine Independence Day celebrations in New Zealand. “We are proud, very touched and much inspired in showcasing our being Filipino and our rich heritage and history,” many Filipinos stated.
The resounding and roaring success of the PBFDT’s visit to New Zealand contributes to the fulfilment of its promise to continue to expand and evolve to attain its mission of educating the Filipino youth in the Philippines and abroad towards appreciation, preservation and promotion of their Philippine cultural heritage. The PBFDT provided an excellent platform for projecting the best of Filipino culture and heritage in New Zealand and gaining positive mileage in promoting closer people-to-people understanding and goodwill among Filipinos, New Zealanders and other communities. On behalf of the Embassy personnel and families and friends, Ambassador Benavidez thanked the PBFDT for continuing to develop and share Philippine culture to fellow Filipinos and the global community throughout the world.