The Accidental Sinulog Dancer
by Luchie Arriaga-Padrones
Luchie at center (in yellow-striped skirt) with the Bansalan's Touring Sinulog Dance Troupe
My trip home for the first time in 20 years was made more memorable when Bansalan's Touring Sinulog Dance Troupe cast me as "supporting star dancer" in the most celebrated Viva Santo Nino event in Curvada, Bansalan.
I met people I never knew before and some schoolmates I wouldn't have recognized.
They were all very warm and the hospitality just floored me. I felt like a Queen!!
The meeting was very brief before I was included in the cast.
I was invited at my nephew-in-law's
parent's house (Salazar) for the bisperas (day before the fiesta) in Curvada. While enjoying the mind-boggling bisperas banquet, I heard rhythms of what sounded like drum beats. As you can guess...I was enlivened!
I put my plate away and followed the source of the drumming. It led me to the front yard were this huge crowd was rehearsing on what seemed to me was a ritual. I learned then that this dance troop will be the showcase for the the fiesta's culmination the following day.
I watched for a while - fascinated. But later on, I could feel my feet wiggling and my nerves were getting charged!
Shamelessly, I asked the choreographer if I could stay at the back to learn the steps. Just that - learn the steps and I'll be a happy puppy!
He was so polite to say "yes". And the rest of the troop were very kind to put me between themselves so I could follow and imitate the movements.
Those couple of tryouts were all I needed to make my day! Dah!..
nakasaw gyud ko!
As expected, family members that were with me that night and to whom the story was retold were amused and at the same time embarrassed with my kabaga ug nawong.
The experience put a big grin in my face that wasn't fading away.
Went to bed with it and like I always do when I accomplish "tasks" that makes my heart giggle, I slept the sleep of the just!
FIESTA - THE DAY
Just as you thought the episode was over...it was not! "It ain't over till the fat lady sings" as the saying goes.
Well, in this case ... till the little lady dances.
Early afternoon, few hours before the Program, one of the performers came to the house to tell me I was being fetched to be marked on steps as I will be cast as the other "Demon Fighter".
I had a bit of anxiety. I didn't have a costume for one and two, it needs more than a couple of instant practices to find a comfortable technique to stand balanced on these men's arms as platform!
But.... I was up for it. I was ON!
When it comes to resourcefulness, kamo nay mag-Bansalenos.
Narding the Tailor's sister dug into her baul for her daughter's costume from the previous years' performance.
The costume fit me perfectly! It also happened that CHAFI members were into bead works that time. So, I got accessorized pretty appropriately. Since I didn't had a headdress, I decided to wrap my head to look somewhat native-ish.
While I was at Bertulfo's house, assembled with other dancers, Ariel arrived with this cute (actually funny to me) little headdress.
He felt bad that I didn't had one, so he jumped over the Guinoo's fence and creeped up to the caged gaming cocks and plucked their finest and longest feathers!
Costume complete. Different from the rest. Set me apart from the troop. Obvious salingpusa or Star Dancer... pareho ra na!
General assembly was in someone's beautiful house near the venue and the Troupe rehearsed two more times. Everything was good except for a minor problem. My Santo Nino was an excellent weight for gym workout but I was afraid the weighty lime relic would wear-out my arm and I might actually drop it while doing my finale stunt.
I guess Joevilt was concerned. Anyway,while we were marching to the venue, Joevilt went into a small store along the route and unplugged and took the Sto Nino from the storeowner's altar. (He is that influential, this Joevilt!) I was relieved to have a lighter prop - with an umbilical cord, yet!
Parang tunay...new born but dressed Sto Nino!
Luchie in the arms of the macho men attempting the dreaded pyramid routine while balancing the icon with its electrical cord hanging.
It was amazing to me that the production with a cast this big could be well-synchronized. The choreography was very well done. Colorful costumes and the energy in every character and dancer just made the show a stopper inspite of some mess-ups ... by yours truly (who
Well, with all the energy put into the dancing plus the heat, one can't help but perspire profusely. So that when I had to step up on the men's linked arms to declare Sto Nino's victory over the devil, it was like stepping on greased pipes. Professional dancers as we are, we pulled it off and made it looked like it was really meant to be...slip and sit on the special platform!
What a day! Another memory made! Oh,yes... and I slept the sleep of the just ...with sore arms!
Luchie with rabid fans and proud family