Ballet Philippines (BP) had the recent honor of being invited to the 40th anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China.
The invitation was given by the Department of Foreign Affairs International Economic Relations-Cultural Diplomacy Unit with the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCII).
The Philippines’ premier dance company performed a mixed repertoire of its most acclaimed works of classical, neo-classical, modern and contemporary pieces from its 46-year history.
Aptly called “Master Pieces,” presented from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1, 2015, the series of shows was among the most applauded visiting performances in China.
As ambassadors of goodwill, the group performed first at the Chongqing Guotai Art Centre.
Accompanying the delegation in Chongqing was Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, who said that the performance was a “resounding success”—not only was the theater filled to its capacity of 700, with many more seeking tickets, the diplomatic corps and the Chinese audience also received it very well.
In her welcome remarks, Del Rosario said that the show was a gift of the Filipinos to the Chongqing people and government on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China in 2015.
She emphasized that even though our diplomatic relations were established only in 1975, as early as 400 years ago there were already strong people-to-people exchanges between the Philippines and China.
In a sense, this was a celebration not only of 40 years of diplomatic relations but also of 400 years of friendship.
Through the efforts of Consul General Olivia Palala, BP was received by representatives of the Chongqing government led by Long Zhou, deputy director general of the Chongqing Foreign Affairs Office (FAO), and Kuang You Zhi, vice chair of the Chongqing People’s Congress.
In his response, Long Zhou expressed his gratitude for Del Rosario’s presence despite her busy schedule as chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Senior Officials’ Meetings.
He also acknowledged the 40th year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations as a milestone, and expressed appreciation for the gift, referring to BP’s performance.
The Philippine consulate general in Xiamen headed by Consul General Julius Caesar Flores organized the gala on the occasion of two other landmarks in our diplomatic relations with China: the 20th anniversary of the Philippine consulate in Xiamen and the first anniversary of Xiamen-Cebu Friendship Day.
The BP performance last Oct. 29 was held at the Jinrong Theater Xiamen Little Egret Art Center before a captivated audience of around 600.
It was organized with the Xiamen Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (Focao) of the Xiamen municipal government, Xiamen People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Xiamen Municipal Bureau of Culture, Radio-Film-Television, Press and Publication.
Flores proudly emphasized that Ballet Philippines, being the Philippines’ premier classical and contemporary dance company, was the epitome of Filipino artistry and talent in the performing arts.
The guests were led by Xiamen Focao Director for consular division Lin Na, Focao Deputy Director General Li Xiao Ping, Fujian province FAO Deputy Director General Wang Tian Ming and Fujian FAO Director for consular and cultural division Li Lin.
Also present were the FFCCCII, represented by Mary Ng and Susan Pineda and the Chinatown TV from Manila.
The performance on Oct. 31 at the Guangdong Cantonese Opera Theater Performance Theater in Guangzhou was the final of BP’s three performances. This was before an appreciative Cantonese audience of 700.
The event was attended by Guangdong government officials led by Luo Jun, deputy director general of the province’s Foreign Affairs Office, and Gu Minqiang, deputy director general of Guangdong’s Department of Culture.
Also present were the consular corps, the academe, business sector, students and teachers from different schools and universities, media and the Filipino community.
Our consul general to Guangzhou, Marie Charlotte Tang, recognized BP’s valuable contributions to the development of Philippine arts and its role as one of the country’s top culture ambassadors.
She also noted how the performance was a tribute to the centuries-long exchanges between the two countries and between the Philippines and Guangdong.
The performance in Guangzhou was the conclusion of BP’s world tour covering 14 cities in seven countries that began in October 2014 to celebrate its 45th anniversary.
As BP president for the last six years, I feel proud and grateful for this achievement that brings the company back to the international stage, just as it had in previous world tours.
The repertoire was a testament to the dancers’ versatility and strength as its choreography showcased the diversity of styles, from the dancers’ athleticism in “Farandole” by George Birkadze, to the playful and humorous Alice Reyes’ “Bungkos Suite,” and the dynamism and bravado of Bam Damian’s “After Whom.”
“After Whom” the dance, I feel, is Ballet Philippines’ pièce de résistance.
We take pride in our designation as the country’s ambassadors of goodwill, to carry the country’s colors in our Ballet Philippines jacket.
We felt delighted to hear the audience clap and stamp their feet to the beat of “Tambol and Padyak.”
Every shout of “bravo” and every standing ovation made us truly proud to be Filipinos.
For our dancers and crew, it is always a thrill to experience the world outside and to observe the progressive development of each country and compare it to where we are.
Every visit to a country’s tourism sites, especially where the sound of our own success rings loudly and proudly, is a well-cherished memory.