Showcasing the synergetic dances of the Maguindanaons to the world, the Ateneo Sidlak Performing Arts Collective (ASPAC) gracefully clinched the Overall Festival Champion award in the Asia-Pacific Arts Festival: Youth Friendship for Peace last August 16-19 at the Capitol Theatre in Singapore.
Sidlak, as they are more commonly known, performed “Lumba”, a repertoire showing the four dances of the Maguindanaons including the Silong sa Ganding (a dance emphasizing the flickering of wrists), Kapag Apir (a dance highlighting the usage of fans), Kapa Malong-Malong (a dance showcasing the different uses of malong) and Lansay (a house decoration representing the four royal houses of the Bangsa Mindanao).
Sidlak’s Founding Director Jesus Allaga Montajes expressed that the competition opened them to the traditions of other countries, which helped them appreciate the unique cultures.
“All of our sacrifices were paid off. And at the same time, we learned how to respect other cultures and to appreciate more of Mindanao. And to perform not because of winning but of course, it’s more of a showcase of your talent… of your culture,” he said.
Though Mindanao has been stereotyped to be conflict-driven, Allaga said that it can offer a lot of things.
“Mindanao is a very diverse place. Though they call it a conflict-driven island, but it’s not. We were able to see the better side of Mindanao through our performances… There’s hope in Mindanao through the arts,” he emphasized.
ASPAC grabbed the Gold Distinction Award and bested 100 other acts from various countries in the region who exhibited performances ranging from ballet and folk dance to contemporary dance.
The performances were judged by renowned dance adjudicators from Malaysia, Australia, United States of America, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines who were all experts in their particular disciplines.
Thea Karuelina Pascual, Sidlak President, expressed her gratefulness after winning and stressed that there were no expectations as all the contingents equally prepared for the competition.
“It was a mixture of different emotions in all honesty kasi it’s like at that moment hindi agad nag sink in that we won. It’s like we heard our names but it didn’t fully sink in yet until we were handed the trophies…We were bringing Mindanao, we were sharing a part of Mindanao,” Pascual stated.
The Asia Pacific Arts Festival is an annual event in the region which “aims to pursuit towards harmony, peace and global friendship through diversified cultural exchange and performing arts competitions.”
After this year’s victory, Sidlak aims to join the said competition once again in Bangkok, Thailand in 2020.