Philippine theater

Theater group brings ‘Ballet for Everyone’ to Northern Mindanao

Mike Baños

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Theater group brings ‘Ballet for Everyone’ to Northern Mindanao

The Northern Mindanao show of the Philippine Ballet Theatre kicks off with Gener Caringal's Vinta ballet.

courtesy of Tom Udasco

The Philippine Ballet Theatre holds a four-city, two-hour show in Iligan, Valencia, Malaybalay, and Cagayan de Oro as part of its first Mindanao tour

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – True to its promise to bring “Ballet for Everyone,” the Philippine Ballet Theatre (PBT) fulfilled its goal to bring the art of dance to the general appreciation of Filipino audiences during its most recent four-city tour in Northern Mindanao.

Dubbed “Music in Motion” the two-hour show was presented in Iligan City on April 15, Valencia City, Bukidnon on April 18, and Malaybalay City, Bukidnon on April 20, before winding up in Cagayan de Oro City on April 22.

“We do this tour every May during Heritage Month, but this is the first time we did it in a Mindanao tour and it’s really fun here, we enjoyed so much the audiences’ enthusiastic response, and we hope to do another show here again this December,” said Marichu Nepomuceno, PBT vice president. 

Dancing, Leisure Activities, Person
DANCE Performers dance to Celeste Legaspi’s Mamang Sorbetero, adapted from Jose Mari Chan’s Mr Songwriter. courtesy of Tom Udasco

“In the week-long tour of Iligan, Valencia, Malaybalay, and Cagayan de Oro, we also conducted workshops, in which a total of 425 kids of all ages participated. There is the interest and the desire to be dancers and parents should support their kids,” said Noemi Estrella-Casiño, PBT treasurer and trustee who was instrumental in bringing the show to Northern Mindanao.

“The community should support them and by all means, the government should support the creative industry!  We export nurses, caregivers, teachers, and performing arts talents as well, in reputable companies such as Disneyland, Disneyworld, and cruise ships. This is an honest way of earning a living, and brings economic relief to their families,” she stressed.


The Cagayan de Oro show opened with an excerpt from “Vinta,” the colorful vessel indigenous to the Mindanao seas, which served as an inspiration to the masterful choreography of Gener Caringal, founder and former artistic director of PBT. 

ADAPTATION. A performance from an adaptation of Celeste Legaspi’s Movie Fan, a popular hit during the heydey of The Manila Sound. courtesy of Tom Udasco

“Imagine the lead dancer in red as the beautiful caracol who directs the course of the Vinta. The chromatic malongs are the sails, and the movements of the limbs are inspired by the Tausug Pangalay, as the oars. The short story of this ballet number is about the lady or the caracol who gets weary and wants to stop sailing, but her crew prevails upon her to press on with her voyage. And so they gather and start again. Hence, we end as we started,” noted Estrella-Casiño.

The second part of the show was a tribute to Jose Mari Chan’s 55 years as a prolific songwriter, composer, and singer whose compositions enriched Philippine pop music with romantic and sentimental songs. The songs performed were personally selected by Chan himself, and choreographed by PBT Artistic Director Ronilo Jaynario.

The rousing finale featured excerpts from “Serye At Sayaw,” a PBT original that serves as a backdrop of the highs and lows of life and loves, also choreographed by Jaynario, who also directed the show.

The tour also showcased performances by local dance groups, including the Octava Choral Society presenting choral renditions of Mindanao folk songs; the Kalimulan Cultural Dance Troupe and the Kalilang Maranaw Traditional Ensemble; and the Echoes Band, who mesmerized the audience with “Ulan: Blessing from the Skies” in Iligan City. 

The future ballerinas of Upbeat Dance Studio in Valencia and Cagayan de Oro added grace to the stage, alongside the San Isidro Chorale. A heartfelt tribute was paid to Cecilia Zaldarriaga Moya Callao, hailed as the mother of ballet in Malaybalay and Bukidnon province. 

The program also featured enchanting ballet numbers and captivating belly dancing by Aimee Dabuet, esteemed teacher and owner of ACD Dance Studio, accompanied by her talented students.

PBT history

PBT was founded in 1986 by notable artists such as National Artist Leonor Orosa Goquinco, Felicitas Radaic, Julie Borromeo, Gener Caringal, Eddie Elejar, Vella Damian, Basilio Villaruz, and Gener Caringal.

The past decades of PBT’s existence have not been easy, but had the encouragement and support of prominent personalities such as Manolo Lopez, Alfonso Yuchengco, Jose Mari Chan, Gloria Angara, to name a few of its past chairpersons.

PBT has managed to remain true to its mission of preserving and showcasing full-length ballets, commissioning Filipino heritage masterpieces, and bringing to the forefront the extraordinary talent of Filipino artists, not only as performers but also as choreographers.

“And like a mother, proud of her progeny, the company has influenced many of the prominent companies and artists in the industry today. Having showcased with pride, our culture and Filipino talents abroad, it is only fitting and indeed, our mission to bring ballet closer to the different communities in our country, especially to our youth, to develop the appreciation of Filipino culture, artistry, and dance technique,” Estrella-Casiño said.

PBT continues to forge fresh performances through the fusion of classical genre, regional interpretation, and experimental forms designed to deliver a contemporary ballet experience, uniquely PBT. –

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