The Tradition Lives On

Here in Tsukuba, there is always something to look forward to right after the Golden Week. It’s what keeps Pinoy scholars and students, better known as FAST (Association of Filipino Scholars in Tsukuba) busy as bees even during the holidays when everyone else is having fun. But for a good reason. For all the seven years that I’ve stayed here in Tsukuba, FAST has always been an active participant in the Tsukuba Festival, or Tsukuba International Exchange Fair. Traditionally, the festival is held on the weekend after the Golden Week. Now on its 20th year, it has always been a highly attended affair, giving foreigners like us an opportunity to showcase our culture to the Japanese community.

What makes it amazing, for me at least, is that whereas the association goes through a lot of changes every year, what with the addition of new scholars and the inevitable graduating of old ones, FAST has never ceased to uphold the tradition of participating in the festival. Most of them are students, mind you, not professional dancers. But give them a few days (or weeks?) of practice, and they could master Tinikling as if they have been doing it for a long time. They’re not professional cooks, but their adobo and pancit will sell like hotcakes at the Pinoy booth. :)

How do they learn the dances? By learning from those who have danced them before. By watching the videos of sempais (seniors) and memorizing the dance movements based on what they’ve seen. So I have the utmost respect for them. Dancing is never my forte, which is probably why I’d been relegated to introducing the dances instead, lol.

Woohoo! The one and only time I got to wear a Maria Clara costume. Of course, back then I was still slim enough to fit in it, hahah. Taken in May 2000’s Tsukuba Festival. With Jim, my dashing and handsome co-emcee.

This year was favored with good weather, unlike in some recent years where it rained, spoiling the shows. But the Pinoys were always there, cheering the performers and flocking to the Filipino booth to buy goodies. Halu-halo is a bestseller, even in the coolest spring weather. Adobo always seems to be on the menu, and it is always the first one to be sold out.

Here are a few photos taken during the presentation by FAST members this year. For more pictures, just visit the FAST website.

Bao and Pinoys: Made in the Philippines. Hey, that guy at the far left looks kind of familiar, doesn’t he? Hmm. :)
Lovely displays of malong. All-female dance featuring the beauties of FAST. :)
Tinikling or bamboo dance. Great job, you two! No toes were harmed in the making of this dance. 😛

And oh yeah, you can also view the YouTube videos below:

Maglalatik and Malong-malong Dance

And the ever-famous, well-applaused Tinikling

Once again, congratulations and otsukaresamadeshita to all FAST members and officers! Mabuhay ang Pinoy! Until next year!

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23 Responses to The Tradition Lives On

  1. Sonnie says:

    Wow! Pinoy’s are indeed Pinoys wherever they are.

    Too bad, while Pinoys in a foreign land work hard to keep their culture alive, in the Philippines it seems the concerned people can’t seem to get their acts together.

  2. Leah says:

    its’s good you have this event in Japan too. We have this too here in Canada. I always love watching the tinikling.

  3. Belle says:

    i enjoyed watching all three dances, Kathy especially the tinikling. the boys did awesome job as well. and you looked adorable in that maria clara costume.

  4. sexy mom says:

    what a way of sharing our culture with others. when i was small, i would always ask why was there a need to be dancing all thos local dances year in and year out. only a few years back did i realize the significance, to carry on the tradition.

  5. kathy says:

    It seems ironic that some Filipinos would only feel proud as Filipinos when they are displaced from their mother country. You can get pretty introspective when you are living in a foreign land – you can’t help but compare everything you see there to what you have been used to back home. Wala niyan sa Pinas, bakit sa Pinas ganito, etc, etc.

    Let us continue to rise to the challenge to show the world what stuff we truly are made of! :)

  6. kathy says:

    As far as I know, there are international events like this not only in Tsukuba but also in different parts of Japan. When I was in Sendai, I was also made to dance the tinikling, haha. The bamboo dance seems to be the most popular Filipino dance here.

  7. kathy says:

    Filipino “folk” dance, I mean. :)

  8. kathy says:

    Glad to know you enjoyed the dances, Belle.

    Thanks! By the way…regarding the Maria Clara costume..I couldn’t imagine how the women in the Spanish era ever managed to move around in those things. And how did they ever manage the tropical heat with all those layers of cloth!

  9. kathy says:

    I agree with you on the tradition. I have already forgotten the folk dances I learned in elementary, but some things I will never forget are the gracefulness of those steps and the lively tunes played by the rondalla ensemble. 😉

    When we were in Villa Escudero, we were able to watch the Filipiniana shows – ang gaganda! :)

  10. snglguy says:

    Funny to think how the Japanese enjoy the ‘exotic’ halo-halo, when it was the Japanese immigrants who introduced the ice cold dessert to these islands in the early part of the 20th century.

  11. kathy says:

    Hmm, now that you mentioned it, “halu-halo” does seem like a tropical version of the “kakigori” here in Japan. But kakigori only uses syrup for flavoring. The allure of halu-halo is its chockful of assorted tropical goodies. :)

  12. Zherwin says:

    tinikling is one dance i would love performing over and over again, it is a great work out hehehe.

    next time FAST could try doing singkil, mas mahirap pero you’ll leave the audience breathless! it’s tinikling times two!. :)

  13. julie says:

    Amusing how Filipinos are able to appreciate their culture more when they are overseas. When in their own country, they prefer foreign dances and seems to look down on their own.

    Anyway, this I just want to ask: How come it seems that there are lots of Filipino scholars in Tsukuba? Or do they come from different areas in Japan?

  14. verns says:

    Hi Kathy! Before anything else..belated Happy Mother’s Day :)

    Anyway wow..this post made me nostalgic…kakamiss ang Linggo ng Wika weeks noong elementary pa ako. We get to wear the national costume and then dance folk dances. It’s great to know you have this event in Japan. At least you get to uphold our tradition :)

  15. dimaks says:

    haha.. mabuti naman at maayos ang sayaw kahit puyat

  16. kathy says:

    Workout – oo nga no! It’s like an aerobic dance, hehe.

    Actually, FAST already performed the Singkil in the 2002 Tsukuba Festival. Alam mo naman napakaelaborate ng Singkil, ang daming components na kasama. That time we had an instructor (a former PhD student) who was able to teach the members on how to perform the dance. She has since moved back to the Philippines. Since she left, the Singkil dance has never been attempted again. Siguro kung may kasing-galing niya na magtuturo, baka puede ulit i-try. :)

  17. kathy says:

    Julie, every year we get new students from the Philippines who are sponsored by the Monbukagakusho scholarship. Tsukuba is also called the Science City of Japan, and this is because it is home to several research and technological institutes, and R&D companies. So aside from the students, we also have those who are doing their postdocs and who are employed in these institutes or companies. FAST not only includes students and researchers, but also their extended families. Di na ganon karami yung mga students na dumarating ngayon compared to say, 10 years ago, pero dumadami rin ang miyembro ng FAST dahil sa mga alumni na andito pa rin sa Tsukuba. :)

  18. kathy says:

    Thanks Verns! :)

    Yeah, me too, I also learned how to dance in our folk dance troupe in my elementary days.

    I hope we can continue this tradition here in Tsukuba. Talagang mafifeel mo yung bayanihan spirit ng mga miyembro sa pag-participate sa festival.

  19. kathy says:

    Puyat? Naku kawaiso ne. Pero it turned out wonderfully, hindi kapansin-pansin. Otsukaresama! :)

  20. bw says:

    That’s great that you folks share our culture in your own little way. Very colorful costumes indeed. What’s even greater is I see you guys are having one heck of a time doing it ! :)

  21. kathy says:

    Oh yes indeed. I’m not as involved with the preparations as before, but it doesn’t make things any less enjoyable. Yung mga costumes, one size fits all, para kahit iba-ibang tao ang gumamit, kakasya, hehe. :)

  22. niceheart says:

    That’s a lot of fun watching the Tinikling.

    We also have an international celebration of cultures here in Winnipeg called the Folklorama. We also go to the Philippine Pavilion where they showcase our food, products, dances, etc. The Folkorama dancers are members of a dancing group. But the dancers in yours, you said, are students who just learn it from watching others, so bravo to them.

  23. pining says:

    keep the fire burning!
    here we have 2 day Filipino festival held in mid July, showcasing some traditional dance like tinikling, pandanggo sa ilaw and karaoke; sometimes there are some Filipino actors too…
    yes I agree with Belle..you look good in that Maria Clara costume :-)

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