Yolanda survivors among first Pinoys to perform at Geneva music fest
The Leyte Dance Theater, whose members include survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, represented the Philippines in Geneva's Fête dela Musique last month, becoming the first Filipinos to perform at the annual music event.
Using bamboo poles, the group performed the singkil and other Filipino dances at the historic Place de Neuve for the 25th edition of the music festival, a three-day affair that hosted at least 6,000 musicians from different nations and genres.
Leyte Dance Theater founder Jess De Paz choreographed the act to retell the bloody history of the Philippines as a way to celebrate the 118th anniversary of Philippine Independence.
De Paz also integrated the troupe's experiences from Typhoon Yolanda into their portrayal of history to pay homage to the struggles and triumphs of the Philippines since the super typhoon hit central Philippines in November 2013.
"For us in Tacloban, there was no looking back. We knew that, after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda's international name), we were changed,” De Paz said.
"We knew that from then on, what we needed to do was to keep building and building until we became better. It was what we had to do. We did not want to forget what happened. In fact, we wanted to use it to help make us stronger," he added.
Their journey of perseverance amidst conflict earned praise for the group at both the Fête and at the diplomatic reception hosted by the Permanent Missions of the Philippines to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva and World Trade Organization at the Theatre du Leman.
Permanent Representative Cecilia Rebong said the Leyte Dance Theater's performance was fitting as it recalled the solidarity the UN had with the Philippines at its time of need.
“The international community acted in solidarity with the Philippines when Typhoon Haiyan left a tragic and indelible mark on our recent history. The name ‘United Nations’ had then rung so true,” she remarked.
“Above this tragedy, the people of Tacloban City and other affected areas continued to rise, the way our forebears and freedom fighters did when faced with the challenges of their time,” Rebong added. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News