working between the silence: perception and connection

Working Between the Silence: Perception and Connection

Today I had the pleasure of listening to Professor Felipe de Leon, Jr. speak (Commissioner of The National Commission of Arts and Culture in the Philippines). He was a guest at KNL’s dance rehearsal.

The professor gave a talk about the Filipino psyche to help us as dancers get really connected to the spirit of the dances as well as the peoples behind it.

There are 4 main cultures that are represented in our dances…

The highland or mountain cultures… the people have held tightly to their ancient ways…are very nature-spirit based.. their expression as a people are that they are one with the elements. I have been learning dances where to even brush your feet on the earth is a reverent expression. Music is very percussive.

The lowland peoples were the most colonized. They are Christianized and are a very devotional group.. Dances representing the lowlanders are communal, celebratory and music is Western influenced.

Our Maria Clara dances represent the refined European gentility influence.. very romantic and Spanish influenced.

And lastly, our Muslim dances embraces the mysticism and flowing seamlessness of the Islamic influence.

I was amazed at the diversity of the people on the Philippine Islands and it is by that diversity that the spirit of the Filipino blossom from building a common psyche. The spiritual center of the people lives from the sense that there is a common soul of humanity; a connectedness. The language itself reveals a sophistication on perception and relating to people. The professor shared that in Tagalog (the common languge within the island) there are 88 words for the word “looking” and more than 100 words for the word “touch”.

The psyche of the Filipino craves expression, being a highly relational people, tending to be nurturing, standing in the “presence of social possibility”… also seeking to understand… A non-conformist innately, enjoying the “heterophony” around which is expressed in many ways especially through art and music… the variations of individual expression “celebrating a creative universal presence”…

The word the professor used was KAPWA to describe the notion of the Filipino culture which translates to “shared being”… “the other person is yourself” and that the essence of the people deep down don’t believe that their own existence is separate from others… everything is shared from a snack to stories as well as grief and laughter.

I see the professor’s analysis and have been raised in the communal magic of the world my family created for me in the States. Even if there were few people from my family’s country in some of the places they’ve raised us… they managed to bring their world to us by creating it… They created it in the neighborhoods.. and creating a social bond of connectedness and transparency gave a world where no one can be lonely or a stranger for very long…

Through the silent gaps of diversity, everyone felt free and safe to be one another’s neighbor and friend… no one felt foreign in their neighborhood.

Here is an interesting article where some of Professor De Leon’s thoughts are shared in The Economist.



~ by jnetsworld on October 9, 2005.


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