Huwag Kang Baboy | Year Of The Swine –

Updated:April 29, 2021, 5:40 P.M.

April 29 is International Dance Day

International Dance Day is a global celebration of dance and  for those who can see the value and importance of the dance art form, it  “acts as a wake-up-call for governments, politicians and institutions which have not yet recognized its value to the people”.

Mildred German

Unceded Territories – Pre COVID-19 pandemic, I was given many wonderful opportunities to dance and to witness many dance arts, talents and community healing to which I remain very grateful for the gift of dance.

Dancing in the streets

Since childhood, the noise and music in the air and the busy streets in the Philippines encourage some dancing. Jeepneys and tricycle rides could come with free-blasting music along the way to school. Sari-sari stores were also tuned in to the radio, playing the most requested songs and beats to power the day.

I remember the dancing in the fiestas, birthdays, and celebrations. Dancing opportunities sprout also even in the simple daily routines of the early morning flag ceremonies, watching the noon time shows, listening to the radio, and playing musical instruments such as the guitar, xylophones, or banduria.

I also remember being part of my school’s Dance Club in elementary school. After class, our group practiced contemporary and Philippine traditional dances from Tinikling, Carinosa, Itik-Itik, Sayaw sa Banga, and other cultural dances. We performed on stage for school events and competitions. Dancing was part of our school’s extra-curricular activities.

In Canada

During my youth in Canada, I was again driven to dance and perform when I joined the Sinag Bayan Arts Collective, based then at the Kalayaan Centre in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside.  It was a grassroots Arts and Cultural collective. The group performed in support of numerous community events and for social justice causes. One of the collective’s objectives is to put light to the experiences and struggles of the Filipino community in the Philippines and in the diaspora. A multidisciplinary group, talents include vocals, performance, visual arts, spoken word and poetry, musical, and interpretive dances.

I acknowledge the many things I learned from this collective.

It was also through Sinag Bayan,that I met world-renowned artist Racquel de Loyola Cruz. Racquel was one of the artists-in-residence (along with Mideo M. Cruz) during the Maleta exhibition in 2007 and the Work of Migration Project held at the Gallery Gachet. Working as the Gallery’s project assistant exposed me to the art world, including being mentored by Racquel and Mideo, who also collaborated with Sinag Bayan for a LIVE Biennale’s performance.

The author with artists Raquel de Loyola and Mideo Cruz.

Racquel de Loyola’s powerful “Mebuyan” performance in 2007 at the Live Biennale in Vancouver at Gallery Gachet inspired me and influenced me to the artist I have become and am today. Mebuyan is a deity who lived in mythical times and lifegiver who is earthly and female, usually associated with and perhaps the personification of the will and the wisdom of Mother Earth. yola/

Perhaps, my biggest dance influence  is my Waray-Waray auntie Lolit from Leyte. She is known in town as a great dancer since her younger years, and as an elder who has years of dancing experience and wisdom dancing the Waray Waray Cha-Cha, Kuratsa, and other dances such as the Tango and ballroom. When I saw her dance, I said to myself, “I got it from Auntie, this dancing bone.”

Lately, one of my art projects is Huwag Kang Baboy | Year of the Swine, which is an ongoing project born out of multidisciplinary practice. Skewing more towards performance art and dance, Huwag Kang Baboy is also integrated with traditional bamboo and gong instruments from the Philippines, poetry, as well as electro sounds and sampled animal noises.

First trip back

This is a performance art and dance project born out of the desire to express emotions, gratitude, and reflections on my first trip back to the Philippines after over 20 years. Coming home, to a very welcoming stay in Leyte and Biliran, and visiting Samar and other areas in the Eastern Visayas, I too was also faced with the remnants of the 2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan. Haiyan’s ruins which hit the Philippines also hit too close to me and as an artist, it serves as a telling reminder to us and for all humanity about the Climate Crisis.

The Philippines is a country most affected by the crippling Climate Change.  Huwag Kang Baboy | Year of the Swine’s  dance movements reflects the people’s experience of forced migration, family separation and reunification, globalization, colonialism, invasions, racism, and never-ending goodbyes.  Combined with poetry and visual art, Huwag Kang Baboy | Year of the Swine aims to question authority, challenge the norm and beyond and show how social and global issues are inextricably tied together around the world.

Since its launch in 2019, Huwag Kang Baboy | Year of the Swine was featured in several venues and festivals from the west to the eastcoast of Canada, including the Toronto International Dance Festival 2019, and the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. I am grateful to these venues who opened doors to an experimental, contemporary dance practice and themes touching on state violence.

There remain many ideas and themes that swirl into the Huwag Kang Baboy | Year of the Swine. One that resonates  is the the music composition which was featured in the VINES Art Festival 2020 Sonic Performance / The Complexity of Together, in the same line-up as Christie Lee Charles, the City of Vancouver’s first local Indigenous Poet Laureate, artists Zion Farah and ANGELIQUOI.  A virtual stage, it was a public space that made art, dance, and music accessible in a challenging time such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trout Lake Park Interactive Map + Sonic Performances

“My choice as an artist is to show solidarity with what’s happening right now- systemic racism, and reflecting in Mother Earth and climate change and how they’re all interconnected.” -Mildred Grace German via interview with Janet Smith in 2020.

In the Summer 2021, I look forward to release a short film project, correlating to the choreography and visual arts inspired by the Huwag Kang Baboy | Year of the Swine theme. It will have more focus on the extrajudicial killings (EJK) in the Philippines, environmental plunder and state-sponsored terrorism, racism, and brutality.  As a multidisciplinary artist, I wish to utilize different pools of talents in creating and expressing artistic visions.

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