Every year since the founding of the world-famous Folklorama, Magdaragat’s Pearl of the Orient Pavillion has been a pride for Filipinos in Manitoba. (Magdaragat photo)

First update: December 7, 2018, 12:10 PM

2nd update: December 7, 2018, 3:30 PM

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Youth carries the  torch

By Ted Alcuitas

It was his dream to form a dance company that would be different.

A company  that will not only teach the rudiments of dance but will also teach the history of the nation.

And so Magdaragat Philippines, Inc. (Voyageurs of the Sea or Seafarers) was founded in 1976.

Dante C. Buenaventura was a visionary who pursued his dream tirelessly until his untimely death in March 5, 1988 at the age of 42. He would have been 73 years this coming  December 21.

The late Dante C. Buenaventura founded Magdaragat in 1976.  (Provided)

He was adamant that Magdaragat endeavours to impart historical consciousness into the young Filipinos in Winnipeg.

Buenaventura was a visionary who was honed in the Philippines as a young theatre artist /activist and teacher at the famed Philippine College of Commerce (PCC), a hotbed of activism in the 70s before he immigrated to Canada.

He founded Magdaragat in June 1976 after briefly helping with the Nayong Pilipino Pavillion of the  Philippine Association of Manitoba (PAM) for Folklorama.    

His artistic skills was legendary.

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A prolific writer, he nurtured Magdaragat faithfully till the very end, leaving behind a cohesive and committed group of cultural workers that continues his legacy to the present.

His contributions to the Filipino cultural life in Manitoba as well as the promotion of multiculturalism was recognized by the province who bestowed on him a posthumous award.

Like Family

“Magdaragat is like family – we belong ,”  Nerissa Mabel Goldie Garcia, Magdaragat’s production chair told PCN.Com in an interview in Vancouver during her recent visit.

She hung out with  Magdaragat alums, Leah Diana, Sunshine (Parrenas) Faraday, and Maricar (Reyes) Kerr while in Vancouver.

Garcia (left) with Magdaragat alum Leah Diana in Vancouver. (Facebook)

“That’s why people stay – it’s like multiple generations. My own mother was involved and I was dancing when I was seven,” she recalls.

She was dancing when she was seven and has not left the company since.

A child worker with Carpathia Childrens Centre  in Winnipeg, Garcia, who holds a degree in Advanced Arts from the University of Manitoba and a diploma in Childhood Education, speaks glowingly of the enduring strength of Magdaragat.

“While the young are now running the organization, the ‘oldies’ – people like Manny Reyes, Felino de Jesus and others still lend their support whenever they could.” 

“There’s over 100 volunteers who work with Magdaragat,”  she adds.

Gil Buenaventura, younger brother of Dante, is artistic director and also prepares food during Folklorama. (Magdaragat photo)

Every Folklorama, Winnipeg’s world-famous tourist event celebrated every August, “ the ‘oldies’ will come around to our pavillion- Pearl of the Orient as a sort of family reunion ” Garcia says. Folklorama is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year and Magdaragat is already preparing its work. 

Arguably, Magdaragat can claim it’s place as one of Canada’s pioneering and pre-eminent dance troupes.

One of Dante’s poems:

Can you dance the iconic ‘Tinikling’ blindfolded? (Magdaragat photo)