July 4, 2023 (7:20 PM)

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CLINCHING GOLD. The Ateneo Sidlak Performing Arts Collective showcased their prowess during the Asia Pacific Arts Festival (APAF) where they emerged victorious after unveiling their mediated M’ranao repertoire in Bangkok, Thailand last June 25, 2023. Caption by Wendyl Geronimo and Photo by Kal-El Yap

Ateneo Sidlak Performing Arts Collective (ASPAC) hailed the rich Maranao cultures through a dance performance in the 2023 Asia Pacific Arts Festival (APAF), clinching their second international championship trophy at Bangkok, Thailand.

A total of 18 student artists, comprising three (3) musicians and 15 dancers, participated in the event and performed the M’ranao repertoire.

Expanding their knowledge and connection with the M’ranao culture, the ASPAC members were led by Dance Coach Warnher Laga, Francis Clave in music, and ASPAC Director Jesus Montajes in lecture sessions.

According to the ASPAC Dance Coach, their choice to feature the M’ranao repertoire was aimed at fostering cultural diversity on a global platform.

“Our inspiration behind the M’ranao repertoire for the Asia Pacific Arts Festival in Thailand 2023 entry is to foster Mindanao representation. ASPAC has been recreating dance traditions in Mindanao for years,” Laga said.

One of the Sidlak performers in Thailand, Kris Xelamar Bataller, expressed her personal connection with the M’ranao repertoire and its cultural significance through the M’ranao dance—Kapag Apir-apir. 

“Being one of the dancers in Kapag Apir-apir is where my connection with the M’ranao repertoire began, and through showcasing the dance during rehearsals and performances, I was able to understand its significance and connect with the rich M’ranao culture,” Bataller mentioned.

Juggling academic priorities and practices, Laga cited conflict of schedule and financial problems as the members’ primary challenges while preparing for the competition.

“I think two of the main challenges that ASPAC faced during the preparations for the festival is how to master the routine since some members have academic commitments and provide the necessary financial implications/needs for the travel on time.” 

During the competition, Ateneo Sidlak’s performance was the only entry with a live music ensemble incorporated into their routine, which according to Laga, left a lasting impression on the audience.

“ASPAC brought a unique kind of stage performance during the festival. We are the only entry with a live music ensemble. That made our performance memorable,” Laga said. 

Moreover, Laga emphasized that the success will impact the Ateneo community and regional performing arts scene by harnessing the students’ talents, promoting Mindanawon-inspired dance traditions, and strengthening local history and cultural education.

The victory at APAF brought immense pride to the ASPAC, who then expressed their gratitude to the entire Ateneo community, particularly the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), for their unwavering support.

“ASPAC’s winning performance can be attributed to the OSA’s constant support, the Executive Board’s consistent task accomplishment, and the participants’ commitment,” Laga said.

As ASPAC’s efforts led them to be crowned Pacific Arts Festival 2023 Overall Champion, Bataller emphasized the significance of their victory and its impact on the future of Sidlak and the Mindanao culture.

“With or without the trophy, meeting the team, being with them, and doing what we are passionate about together is already a victory, but it is amazingly great to be able to defend the crown. This victory means a lot for the future of the Ateneo Sidlak Performing Arts Collective and the culture of Mindanao, Philippines,” Bataller said.

The previous time ASPAC won gold was at the Asia-Pacific Arts Festival: Youth Friendship for Peace in Singapore last 2019. 



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