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  • Parol Dance, Kundiman, and What Made The SEA Games 2019 Opening Ceremonies Very Pinoy

    It was an awesome moment for all Pinoys, sports enthusiasts or not.
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
Parol Dance, Kundiman, and What Made The SEA Games 2019 Opening Ceremonies Very Pinoy
PHOTO BY @agncllkrs/Instagram
  • The Opening Ceremonies of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), currently being held in the Philippines, happened last Saturday, November 30, 2019, at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. If you didn’t catch the live telecast of this highly-anticipated event and weren’t one of the 55,000 in attendance to see it live, you’ve probably caught snippets of it online somehow.

    As the host country, we've had the privilege to showcase Filipino culture and tradition in the one-and-a-half hour spectacle. Though much of the presentation may be familiar to Gen X-ers, it may be necessary to explain some of its elements to the younger generation so they would gain a deeper appreciation for them (it’s likely they only read about them in textbooks now). Here’s a cheat sheet if they need one:

    South East Asian Games 2019: What makes it truly Pinoy

    Lupang Hinirang

    As the kids should know, the Philippines’ national anthem, performed in the program by Lani Misalucha, was composed by Julian Felipe in 1898. Its lyrics profess valor, and allegiance and love for country.     

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    Sarimanok

    The first part, performed mostly by members of the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Dance Group, began with a Sarimanok dance to the tune of “Kyrie eleison.” The Sarimanok, a legendary bird of the Maranaos from Mindanao, symbolizes our strength, prowess, and agility as a people.

    Kyrie eleison, which is Latin for “Lord, have mercy,” is a fitting choice for the segment called “Ugat ng Ating Lakas / Roots of Our Strength” because as a predominantly Catholic nation, faith is one of the forces that unite us. 

    Habi

    Those colorful and intricate tapestries on the LED screen on the background all throughout the performances are digital interpretations of the local “habi” or woven textile originating from Cordillera in the north and down south in Mindanao.  

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    Singkil

    Probably one of the most popular Filipino traditional dances, the Singkil is a royal dance that originated from the Maranaos. The performers’ grace as they deliver precise footworks while garbed in intricate costumes makes it a very difficult dance. 

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    La Jota Manileña

    The lively number preceding the parade of athletes has Hispanic origins. Using bamboo castanets, the dancers sound off to set the rhythm. The La Jota is commonly performed during banquets in the Tagalog region.  

    Santacruzan

    The SEA Games delegates were ushered into the stage Santacruzan-style by Filipina beauty queens including 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach and Miss World 2013 Megan Young. The dancers formed a line to welcome the guests as they entered, exhibiting Pinoy hospitality. The Santacruzan is an annual festival / parade that commemorates the finding of the Holy Cross by Saint Helena. 

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    Barong Tagalog

    This is the national dress of the Philippines (for men), along with the baro’t saya (for women). For the SEA Games, renowned Filipino fashion designer Francis Libiran created a unique design that incorporates elements of the Philippine flag into the barong: the colors blue and red on the collar, and the sun and its rays beautifully accenting one side of the arm and body.

    “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika”

    Philippine theater veteran Robert Seña opened the second part of the ceremonies with a loosely-translated English version of “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika” to fit the occasion. The song was written in 1978 by now National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab as an entry to the Metro Pop Music Festival competition and won first prize.

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    Filipino sports legends

    The Philippines has had its share of fame and glory in international sports long before boxing legend Manny Pacquiao (who lit the cauldron along with Filipino boxing champion Nesthy Petecio) became a household name.

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    Lydia de Vega-Mercado (track and field, Asia’s fastest woman for 8 years), Akiko Thomson-Guevarra (swimming, 7-time SEA Games gold medalist), Eric Buhain (swimming, 15-time SEA games gold medalist), Alvin Patrimonio (basketball, SEA Games gold medalist), Bong Coo (bowling, 4-time world champion), Efren “Bata” Reyes (billiards, 4- time World Eight Ball Champion), Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco (boxing, 2-time SEA Games gold medalist and Olympic silver medalist), and Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno (bowling, 6-time world champion) are a few of the Pinoy athletes who have earned distinction for the Philippines in their respective sports.

    Kundiman

    The third part of the performances opened with a kundiman duet — a traditional love song written in Tagalog. “Minamahal Kita” which was performed by Christian Bautista and Aicelle Santos was originally sung by Filipino musician Ruben Tagalog. While the pair sang, a bahay kubo was brought into the stage to symbolize “bayanihan.”

    Songs by Francis Magalona

    Francis Magalona, or Francis M, was a rapper in the ’90s. He is credited to be the first Filipino rapper to go mainstream, and he used his popularity to promote nationalism through his songs. “Mga Kababayan Ko” and “Man from Manila,” which were performed by Iñigo Pascual and by his own son, Elmo Magalona, are some of the greatest hits of the late artist. 

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    Apl.de.ap

    The Pampanga-born Filipino rapper, who gained fame as a member of the Grammy award-winning hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas, has always been true to his roots. At the SEA Games opening ceremonies, Apl.de.ap performed “Bebot” which is a tribute to the grace and beauty of Filipinas everywhere. 

    Parol dance

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    As a prelude to the singing of “We Win As One,” the official theme song of the SEA Games 2019, a fluid performance was carried out by dancers bearing lanterns made of capiz. In the Philippines, the province of Pampanga is famous for its skilled craftsmen who create beautiful and elaborate lanterns displayed for a festival during the Christmas season. 

    Watch the full South East Asian Games opening ceremonies below:

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