Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pangalay and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Ligaya Fernando Amilbangsa

Our library has her book: Ukil, Visual Arts of the Sulu Archipelago
It was a dream come true!

I met the 2015 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, Ligaya Fernando Amilbangsa last September 28, 2016. She and her dance troupe, the Alunalun Dance Circle, were our guests in the Academy. The week they were in school was our Filipino Week celebration. She and her dancers introduced to us the Pangalay, an indigenous dance from the Sulu Archipelago that predates Islam and Christianity.

Pangalay is a beautiful dance! It is meditative, natural and spontaneous. When I tried it out, I felt I had a good workout. Breathing in and out as the feet move while knees are bent, accompanied by motions of the upper body going up and down is an exercise in coordination, concentration and synchronicity of the whole body. The hands need to move as well in basic figure eight motion. It's not an easy feat as it requires a listening, for of all, to the inner rhythms of the body and the conscious self.

During the question and answer portion, when the dancers have all danced and mesmerized us, we learned that, other than being Pangalay dancers in the troupe, they lead normal lives like the rest of us. There is a UP professor, a gym instructor, a Zumba dance instructor and students who started learning the dance at an early age. 

Madame Ligaya Fernando Amilbangsa is 73 years old. She started learning the Pangalay in 1969. She has dedicated her life to keep this tradition of culture, oral history and dance education alive and well. I am humbled to have met her. I am inspired to continue this work of promoting culture and the arts to young people.

The Pangalay is timeless. Motion in stillness. Stillness in motion
If this is my insight, I wonder what our young people thoughts are? I hope they will be able to find their passions and turn it into something good to develop themselves and help others grow too.

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