Dec 3, 2010

Why are Filipinos such good dancers as can be seen on MTV's ABDC?

Dear Filipino,

Hi again!

First off, your blog is coming along nicely. Secondly (you may have seen this coming), I'm sure you've observed the prevalence of Filipinos in MTV's America's Best Dance Crew. There's a running joke in my family that one aspect of being Filipino is that you have to know how to dance. Any idea why Filipinos happen to be good dancers? Or could you chalk it up to coincidence?

Fil-I-Am
Team Millenia (Source: FilAmFunk Blog)

Dear Fil-I-Am,

Coincidence?  You must be kidding, right?  Surely, you don't believe that!

But for the sake of giving your question some justice, I did some research.  I looked for scientific articles and journals and studies about our physiological traits, our evolutionary history, our genetics.  I consulted astronomical signs and theological treatises. 

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any satisfactory explanation -- until I stumbled upon Anonymous, that is. 

Yes, ma'am: Although often seen now in online forums trolling and spouting bilious and hateful claptrap, the former fount of wisdom known only as Anonymous in the finest books has this to say about dancing:


And voila!  I knew right away this is the explanation I was looking for!  Because if there's one thing the Filipino spirit can do, it is to boogie! 

That's why the Filipinos just shimmy the days away despite corrupt, psychotic and violent political regimes, like the Marcos'.

For the Filipino spirit, even work is of course not an excuse to not shake the Filipino booty!  For instance, if we:

(1)  Need to tell folks about inflight safety rules of an airplane as a stewardess?  We go Gaga!

(2)  Need to direct traffic? No one can top our Manila cops!

(3)  Need to exercise?  We move to the groove!

(4)  Need to raise money for victims of typhoons and floods and massive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions of mythical proportions?  Hey, those are great reasons to cha-cha with a Star or to zumba with our gang!

If some people are out to squeeze or trip us, that won't find us in a pickle!  In fact, we let them try!  But first, we have to take out the parasol and a fan or two, so they can really tickle our fancy!

If we got double-crossed, we don't let that get us all twisted over.  We just do the ocho-ocho -- oh yeah!

And if we're hungry, we just feed our spirit with spaghetti or papaya!

Heck, the truth of the matter is, even prison is not enough to bottle our spirit.  In fact, that's where we channel our inner Michael Jacksons!

Okay, okay.  So I'm exaggerating and stereotyping a bit and I'm getting carried away, because the truth of the matter is: I have two left feet. 

But if you think you can sing, well, awitin mo at isasayaw ko!  Yes, I meant to say, go ahead, sing it and I will dance it!

(BTW, thank you for the "love" you're showering my nascent blog!  I'm feelin' it, kabayan!)

Got a question for The Filipino?  Email him now at askthepinoy@gmail.com.

12 comments:

Chesel said...

But you must know, Filipinos are not only good in dancing. They are also well know when when it comes to singing. Even in boxing. Lol

I am a Filipino and and I'm proud of it. :)

Leiza said...

I was going to say that, too, Chesel! Yes, singing is another thing us Pinoys love to do. :) I come from a musical family myself - all who love to sing! My dad, in fact, is a tenor opera singer, my mom is a coloratura soprano, my siblings were part of international choral groups, not to mention my cousins, uncles, aunts, lolos, and lolas! We even had a reunion last year and made our own concert for some Fil-Ams.

Anywho, I also wanted to say even back then during the Spanish occupation, when they prevented us from using our Filipino martial art Arnis, us crafty Filipinos incorporated the martial art moves to dance, which are now our folk dances. ;)

The Filipino said...

Chesel: Thanks for your comment. It's too bad The Filipino is no good at singing or boxing as well. :-(

Leiza: I didn't know that about arnis, so thanks for educating me! Now, I gotta read more about that. If you have links, please share here also so readers of the Q&A post as well as the comments can get a better answer and not just my take on things.

Leiza said...

Intersting! :) My mom was 1994 WEKAF (World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation) World Champion, and, when we were in the Filipino culture group, would sometimes talk about a bit of Filipino history of folk dance. I did a Google search on "arnis used as a folk dance" and here are a few links:

http://www.arnis.ca/node/2 - look for the title at the bottom "What does the word ‘Kali’ mean?" and there's a bit of explanation.

http://www.ehow.com/about_6561278_history-sakuting-philippine-folk-dance.html - tells you a history of Sakuting, mentions fight dances. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eskrima - look under Origins, though the article is very interesting in itself

I'll ask my mom a bit more about it, too. :)

MV said...

thanks for leaving this question open and not foreclosing the many, many approaches to answering it.

what needs to be taken into serious consideration is history: Filipinos have a long tradition of dance culture, and especially when it comes to hip hop dance (ABDC, for example), we as a community have even been participating in pre-hip hop dance forms (taxi dance halls, etc).

nothing's ever a coincidence!

The Filipino said...

MV: Thanks for your comment! You are very much correct! It seemed like a shallow-sounding question, but there's truly a lot of angles that one can explore here. I chose the more light-hearted angle. But although my answer was half-facetious, I only meant to point out that our culture, our "spirit," is music-oriented and thus, we find all sorts of reasons to dance.

I'm familiar with one of the points you raised (i.e., history of Pinoys in taxi dance halls), which is actually entwined with one of the more interesting chapters of Fil-Am history involving the Manongs of the Fil-Am Community. Yes, truly interesting -- and violent too! In fact, although there were other reasons, one can outright argue that the love of dancing and the frequenting of dance halls by Filipinos in order to dance with white women led to the Watsonville riots in the 1930s.

Also, I looked at your profile on Blogger and I would appreciate it very much if you can share from time to time some of your other thoughts on the questions or issues raised in this blog.

MV said...

yep. watsonville.

also, it is important to remember, that the threat of Filipino male "hypersexuality" especially via the taxi dance halls prompted the U.S. Congress to hasten the "independence" of the Philippines from U.S. colonialism in order so that Filipino would stop migrating to the U.S. freely as U.S. "nationals".

Yes, you heard it right, Filipino hips was a major impetus to Philippine national "freedom."

Hips don't lie.

re: commenting on your blog: fo sho bro!

Sneaker Pimp said...

MV, I like the historical approach you've taken as it shows a history of going out and dancing even if it gets us in trouble.

It's a prevalent attitude in all of my sisters.

"hips don't lie" hahahaha

your hips will set you free

:)

The Filipino said...

@Sneaker Pimp: Thanks for your first (?) comment on the blog!

I checked out your profile and it says you're a chemistry teacher. You think there's a "chemical angle" to Filipinos' love of dancing? Some sort of "endorphin rush" perhaps which allows Filipinos to forget problems? Just a thought...

In any case, welcome and hope to see you around more often.

Sneaker Pimp said...

Ah, first comment, but 2nd question. The endorphin rush theory implies that Filipinos have a lot of problems to forget.

Dancing is a natural coping mechanism? That works. That means we get high off of serotonin.

Stephanie said...

Welll i dont really kno the answer to that. Haha but i am filipino and im a dancer... Dancing is just what makes me happy.. i dance for god while his light shines through me.. It is the only way that i can express myself and have fun at the same time.. I have always been attracted to dancing eversince i was like 5 and now ima hip hop dancer.. :) i could babble on for hours but i wont Lol! B)

filipino woman said...

They are not only talented in dancing but also in singing. The spaniards have contributed influencing the dance. Plus the media influencing young people to share their talents!

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