Passion, energy, skill and beauty -
a showcase of Filipino dance and music
A collaboration between MaeJo University, Central Luzon State
University (CLSU) in the Philippines and the event’s major sponsor, the San
Miguel Corporation, resulted, on February 21, in an unusual and perfectly
delightful evening of Filipino music and dance.
story of Princess Gandingan beautifully re-enacted.
The performance, entitled, ‘Sayaw, Awit…Pag-ibig’ and held at the Chiang Mai
Art Museum’s theatre, featured the CLSU Student Cultural Society’s stunning
Dance Troupe - a group of Filipino students who dance purely for the love of
it! The passion, energy, skill, enthusiasm and sheer ability demonstrated
throughout the entire performance, the beautiful, brilliantly coloured
costumes, the joyful music, and the imaginative choreography by Jennifer
DeJesus, CLSU’s resident choreographer, all ensured that the evening was a
The concert opened with a selection of tribal folk dances from diverse
regions of the Philippines. ‘Makatod’, a Mandayan celebration dance, showed
a young prince being carried high on the shoulders of his courtiers and
presented to his people; ‘Madal Tahaw’, a traditional tribal dance from
South Cotabato and specific to the Tiboli tribe, celebrated a good harvest,
with winged male dancers representing huge Tahaw birds, hopping, flying and
protecting their nestlings from danger.
colour and graceful movement.
The tribal dances continued with an adaptation of a Kalinga tribe women’s
dance, traditionally performed at budong (peace pact) gatherings, followed
by a dance celebrating Igorot maidens’ marriage ceremony preparations,
involving the fetching of water from a nearby river in pots balanced on
their heads - demonstrated by the dancers with amazing grace and agility.
In the next section, traditional music gave way to joyful Spanish-influenced
sounds, and traditional costumes were abandoned in favour of brightly -
coloured, swirling full skirts and flirting gestures from the girls towards
their young men. The audience was treated to a series of 6 dances, during
which the character, charm and beauty of Filipinas of a bygone era was shown
in full, at wedding celebrations, baptismal parties, fiestas or just walking
in the local square on a balmy evening.
The dancers’ and the music’s mood changed once again, with a suite of 4
Muslim-inspired dances, the first of which, ‘Sayap’, portrayed a local
Salunayan, Cotobato legend about a young girl engaged to a boy in the same
social class, who fell in love with a commoner and disguised her meetings
with him by wearing a large hat. She was eventually discovered by her
parents, and turned to stone by her parents’ curse.
The third dance in this series, ‘Singkil’, related the epic 14th century
Mindanao legend of the beautiful Princess Gandingan, who, caught in an
earthquake, managed to avoid the falling trees (represented by crossed
bamboo poles) by her dexterity, and was finally rescued by her prince!
The final dances concentrated on rural pursuits: fishing, farming, and
sheep-herding (represented by a large number of very cute white plastic
sheep!). The penultimate dance, the ‘Tinikling’, is regarded as the
Philippines’ national dance, and imitates the Tinikling birds’ legendary
grace and speed as they run along tree branches and dodge the bamboo traps
set by rice farmers.
The concert ended with the members of the troupe each persuading a member of
the audience to join them in a dance! Or, rather, it almost ended - as an
encore, the entire company came back on stage and gave their appreciative
audience a marvellously choreographed and energetic modern ‘break-dance’
The show was made possible through the initiative of Diana Palermo-Jantakad,
with the kind and generous support of MaeJo University President, Dr. Thep
Phongparnich. From funds raised, 20,000 baht was given to the visiting dance
troupe to subsidize their expenses, and 8,000 baht was given to Fr. Terry
Tapay to support his home for poor and abandoned boys. Dr. Thep also donated
to the dancers in his personal capacity.
Traditional costumes at harvest time.
Great choreography and some nimble footwork.
Swirling skirts and flirting gestures signified
the Spanish themed dances.
Whatever ails you – non-invasive holistic therapies can help
Prof. Sathittham Pensuk, prominent Thai
explaining an aura reading to a visitor.
Alternative therapy practitioners gathered in Chiang Mai last
week for the opening on February 20 of the Worldwide Holistic Healing
Seminar, held at the Empress Hotel’s Conference Centre. Many guest
speakers from diverse countries with different holistic specialities
took part in the event, which was officially opened by General Manat
Klaimanee, president of the Thai Runner’s Association, advisor to many
Royal Projects, and a previous Commander of the Royal Thai Military
until his retirement in 1998. Dr. Tamsir Mbowe, Gambia’s chief medical
director, attended as the representative of the President of Gambia,
Alhaji, Dr. Tahya Jammeh. An introduction to the seminar was given by
Rev. Dr. Pradit Takerngrangsarit, president of Payap University, and his
advisor, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson. Rev. Dr. Pradit went on to explain to
the guests the nine basic principles which apply to the study of health,
all of which are important to every comprehensive theory of health in
both the West and the East.
De Back, from the Netherlands, demonstrated his holistic speciality,
healing with gongs and tingshas.
A number of holistic healing therapies were represented, with talks
being given by their practitioners over the three-day seminar on many
diverse subjects, including, ‘Managing Stress through Meditation,’ ‘The
Wonder of Homeopathy’ and ‘How to see your own Aura.’ Practitioners from
Thailand were well represented, with Chiang Mai’s Cory Croymans giving a
free Reiki intensive training session to 25 participants.
According to Cory, this was an incredible experience, as her usual class
numbers average 5 or fewer! She also gave a talk about Asian
Bio-Energetics Therapy (acupuncture without needles, called Meridian
Therapy in the West), which balances energy without using machines,
drugs or herbs, making it totally non-invasive.
An Expert Panel session was held during the seminar, focusing on the
role of holistic education and training and covering issues such as
decisions concerning the readiness of students to practice and
regulation of teachers. The contrast between ‘energy education’ and
academic education was stressed.
Dr. Anchalee from Bangkok gave a lecture on the integration in hospitals
of holistic therapies with conventional medicine, which she is actually
practising in Bangkok.
Debora Williamson, a British speaker, now living in Phuket, spoke about
purification by the use of plant-based healing methods such as raw or
nearly raw vegetarian foods. Debora herself represented a shining
example of the success of her therapies, both in body and mind! Hans De
Back, from the Netherlands, demonstrated his holistic speciality,
healing with gongs and tingshas.
Victoria Vorreiter’s talk about the healing powers of music, during
which she shared her research undertaken with members of hill tribes who
use music in their healing and other ceremonies. Fascinating stuff!
Victoria has promised to give her talk to Soroptimists International
Chiang Mai later in the year. Bangkok therapist Jaz Goven’s talk about
the use of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which involves tapping on
certain acupuncture points in the body in order to release emotional
(and even financial) stress. This technique involves the same meridians
and energy lines as acupressure, Ayurveda and traditional medicine from
China and Japan, and is becoming increasingly well known and popular as
(like Reiki) it can be self-administered and actually does produce
results. Jaz also spoke on weight management.
Prof. Sathittham Pensuk, a prominent Thai speaker, gave a very practical
talk on the healing power of auras, during which he shared his
experiences in China’s Chechuan province whilst he and his group were
helping to release trapped souls who had perished in the massive
earthquake. The group had another powerful spiritual experience in Tibet
earlier this year.
This reporter, fascinated for many years by the subject of aura (a swirl
of coloured light surrounding all living things, photographed for the
first time by Kirlian photography developed in Russia 100 years ago),
requested a personal aura reading from Prof. Sathittham and got far more
than she was expecting! Let it be said that some details were slightly
too personal to be aired in this article. But others, such as points of
character, both positive and negative, were amazingly accurate. And, for
the second time in her life (the first being 30 years ago in the UK),
she was told that her previous existence had taken place in one specific
location in the Middle East! Don’t knock it, guys. This is more than a
coincidence. Prof. Sathittham’s Power of Life Centre in Bangkok treats
patients by aura healing, meditation and Reiki, using the colours in an
individual’s aura to pick up on developing health or psychological
problems and balancing the aura colours as well as advising on specific
alternative therapies. Colour therapy is also used, as colour has both
psychological and physiological effects on the human condition. Red, for
example, has a strong stimulating effect, promoting activity and
creating harmony in one’s heart. White encourages clarity, purity and
neutrality. There is no doubt that certain individuals have abilities
which are difficult for others to understand and accept. But in these
strange, changing times, an open mind and a willingness to explore all
options may well result in an enhanced ability to cope with unexpected
This fascinating event was organised by Dr. Rajeev Marwah, chairman of
the Worldwide Holistic Seminar, Dr. Suchada Marwah, its director, and
Prof. Tanapong Churphudee, the advisor and MC of the event. Dr.
Suchada’s personal message to the conference was ‘Where there is love,
there is no fear, and where there is fear, there is no truth.’ We might
all do well to remember this.
A trip to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop:
Bangkok’s Tonchabab Record Store
Although not yet at the dinosaur stage, they certainly fall
into the endangered species category, a dying breed that are proving
more elusive to find even in their original breeding grounds in America
and Britain and so to stumble across a fit, healthy, well fed specimen
in the heart of ancient Siam came as quite a surprise.
still possesses his first ever vinyl album, a Johnny Mathis Greatest
A few hundred yards from the Royal Hotel in Bangkok, on the corner of
Atsadang and Boonsiri Roads, is the Tonchabab second hand record shop,
and I’m not talking of a shoe box with a handful of warped 45s and a
dozen copies of ‘The Sound of Music’ here. This is the genuine article;
the building is, quite literally, bursting at the seams with thousands
upon thousands of pieces of vinyl.
As I enter, the owner, forty year old Prakarn, is filing yet another
pile of albums and 45s to add to his ever growing stock. He’s a
likeable, easygoing character whom I felt at ease with immediately. A
person who you sense has found true contentment in life through his
family and work - although I’m sure ‘work’ is not a word Prakarn would
choose himself to describe the daily routine he’s been enjoying for the
past twenty years. A labour of love would be nearer the truth, for
Tiger (his nickname) is a vinyl junkie who’s been collecting the stuff
since his early teens and now has over 100,000 pieces to care for. It’s
a varied collection, covering every conceivable style of music from many
Prakarn was born in the mid sixties during the ‘Mersey beat’ boom and
although too young to appreciate it at the time, he considers the period
1965 – 1975 to be the golden era. The first piece of vinyl he owned was
a Johnny Mathis album but his tastes soon broadened to include, amongst
other, Aretha Franklin, Pink Floyd, and Jimmy Hendrix, as well as jazz
giants like Miles Davis and John Coltraine. Nora Jones is an artist he
appreciates from the present day.
Some of Prakarn’s stock is purchased locally, but the bulk comes from
Hong Kong. He also collaborates with dealers around the globe, some of
whom have visited him personally.
And his most valuable piece?… That would be a Beatles record that was
made in Thailand.
The shop itself is a gem; classic album covers decorate the walls,
countless shelves overflow with L.P.’s, whilst boxes piled high with
E.P.’s and 45s (English and Thai) litter the floor space.
It’s not all about vinyl though. Prakarn is a dab hand when it comes to
fixing turntables – there are one or two beautifully restored megaphone
style ‘museum’ pieces on display within the shop. He also stocks stylus
anti-dust mats and cleaning fluids.
As an ex collector myself I had to agree with Prakarn’s sentiments that
the demise of vinyl was (and is) a great loss to our digital planet.
There’s nothing to match caring for a favourite album; cleaning those oh
so fragile grooves before and after each play, protecting the outer
sleeve with clear plastic covers (bought at ‘Woolies’ in packs of six in
my day), and, always a sure way to impress the girls, learning the
lyrics that were conveniently printed on the inner sleeve.
The ‘Tiger’ admitted that business could be better, but as I departed he
returned to tending his Pink Floydus Petunias, his Lavandula
Lennons and Papaver Presleys with the look of a very, very
contented human being.
Even though I no longer own a turntable, I have to admit it took quite
an effort to leave empty handed, however, if there are any collectors of
the ‘old black’ out there, well now you know where to look. I would say
you’d need a good half a day to do the shop justice. Happy browsing.