HIGHLIGHTS

  • The BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER has distilled and designed a superior choreography with appropriate musical score and songs, costumes, stage settings and lighting.
  • Recognition won by the Philippine Bayanihan Dance Company in capitals of Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas is the product of such sustained enterprise by all.
  • Beginning with their first appearance abroad at the Pakistani Folk Dance and Music Festival late in 1954, the dancers and musicians from Philippine Women’s University enlarged their repertoire for presentation at the Brussels Universal Exposition of 1958.
  • The RMAF Board of Trustees recognizes “their projection of a warm and artistic portrayal of the Filipino people to audiences in five continents.”

 CITATION

The making of One World progresses only as citizens of all nations sense a shared pleasure in knowing one another. This is a human dimension, more fundamental than the political and economic rivalries, which now divide us. As popular, non-verbal art forms, music and the dance are uniquely fitted for this purpose.

From the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER has distilled and designed a superior choreography with appropriate musical score and songs, costumes, stage settings and lighting. Such technical proficiency has been matched by a regimen of disciplined training for the largely amateur dancers and musicians. Management of performances at home and tours abroad has been fully professional, yet with the enthusiastic cooperation of sponsors, parents and patrons in the best bayanihan (working together) tradition. Recognition won by the Philippine Bayanihan Dance Company in capitals of Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas is the product of such sustained enterprise by all.

Philippine Women’s University began research on dances and related epics among ethnic groups throughout the Islands more than 40 years ago. Ancient rituals and ceremonials of Muslims and Pagans were recorded and there artifacts collected. Diverse customs and dances of the Christian communities were studied and later filmed. Scholars and artists joined talents to develop performances evocative of the best they had learned.

Beginning with their first appearance abroad at the Pakistani Folk Dance and Music Festival late in 1954, the dancers and musicians from Philippine Women’s University enlarged their repertoire for presentation at the Brussels Universal Exposition of 1958. Applauded and invited to perform before ever-growing audiences, the Bayanihan Company prompted creation of the FOLK ARTS CENTER. Supported by both the Bayanihan Folk Arts Association and Philippine Women’s University, the Center’s performers have become a popular international institution, appearing at World’s Fairs in Seattle and New York and winning new understanding of the Philippines from Caracas to Tel Aviv and Canberra. By example, they have helped stimulate other Philippine folk dance troupes and so broadened participation by young people.

In an era when the search for a sense of national identity often runs counter to the need for international acceptance of man’s brotherhood, the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER has shown that both can be well served, the one in complement to the other. For discovering in each other’s folk traditions the universals of joyfully working and celebrating together brings to persons everywhere a fuller sense of kinship.

In electing the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER and its supporting entities to receive the 1965 Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, the Board of Trustees recognizes their projection of a warm and artistic portrayal of the Filipino people to audiences on five continents.

 RESPONSE

On the occasion of the granting of the Ramon Magsaysay Award to the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER and its supporting entities, I wish to recall that it was the successful practice by the late President Magsaysay of the traditional Filipino bayanihan (working together) way of life which inspired us to adopt the name “Bayanihan” for the pioneering efforts of Philippine Women’s University to revive, preserve and disseminate our people’s folk arts and folkways.

I recall that soon after his election President Magsaysay recruited many of us—private citizens who were not involved in the political campaign—to work with and for the government on a voluntary basis. This widespread recruitment resulted in the organization of the Rice Commission, the President’s Good Neighbor Commission for Asian Countries, the Cultural Committee for the Brussels Exposition, the President’s San Luis (Pampanga) Rural Reconstruction Committee and others. This mobilization of private citizens and civic organizations found culmination in the official presidential declaration of June 30, 1955 as Civic Organizations Day. On that day for the first time in our country all the leading civic organizations of the Philippines met together in Manila with the late statesman and former president Sergio Osmena as guest speaker, to manifest their common desire to work together for the general welfare in the spirit of the ancient bayanihan folkway.

And when the original commitment of President Magsaysay to send a cultural mission to the Brussels Universal Exposition was honored by President Garcia, it was again the old Filipino bayanihan tradition that inspired us in the Philippine Women’s University to offer to our government the Philippine Bayanihan Dance Company, with the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER conducting the research and training and a Citizens and Parents Committee in charge of fund raising and arrangements.

Perhaps on this occasion it is worthwhile pointing out how the bayanihan way of President Magsaysay underlies the success underscored by the granting of this Award.

In line with the mission of all true universities of promoting research, conserving, teaching and transmitting a nation’s cultural heritage, and in taking cognizance of a similar pioneering undertaking under the leadership of the late Dr. Jorge Bocobo, President, University of the Philippines, the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER was officially created. Its goal was to revive not only folk music and dance for the Brussels Program, but also all other forms of folkways and arts, and to open participation to entities outside the Philippine Women’s University. In this undertaking not only were other departments of the PWU directly involved but also private citizens and government officials in the true bayanihan way.

To formalize citizen support, the Bayanihan Folk Arts Association was set up thus giving an outlet for civic-minded citizens who are able and willing to help their neighbors and their country. Bayanihan is a concrete exemplification of democracy and Christianity in action. I consider the success of our Bayanihan organizations a fitting tribute to the memory of Ramon Magsaysay. I am happy and proud to make this public acknowledgment on behalf of all who made contributions and helped in the creation of this dance team.

In conclusion, having demonstrated in a particular project the value of the bayanihan way of working together, we are pledged to continue to diffuse the idea of a way of life that was above all exemplified in the man we honor today—Ramon Magsaysay.

 BIOGRAPHY

The beginning of the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER goes back to the early 1920’s and the Filipiniana Folk Arts Troupe working at Philippine Women’s College—now University (PWU)—to preserve and promote Philippine culture. A feature of its program was the presentation of folk dance and music.

Among foreign visitors struck by the beauty of these performances were American dancers Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Dennis who visited Manila in 1926 and wrote the president of Philippine Women’s College predicting that at some future time Philippine dance would be recognized on the international stage. In 1958 at the Brussels Universal Exposition this prophecy came true. In competition with professional classic and folk dance groups from around the world, the amateur dancers from the Philippines “struck like a flash of lightning in the darkness,” as one Brussels critic put it.

The program of Philippine folk dance and music offered at the Brussels fair was culled from tribal treasuries and traditional festivities. It was the result of continuous research and travel by PWU staff members to observe and record indigenous Philippine art forms which were then choreographed and staged with modern theatrical effects.

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)