May 27, 2012

The Courage and Inspiration of the Rising Generation

Friday night we left work and drove straight to Quezon City for a cultural show. Several Stakes (collection of congregations) throughout the region gathered their youth to dance and sing traditional Filipino numbers. We are glad that we were invited.

There was a visiting church leader from the United States. Elder Russell Nelson, one of the Quorum of the Twelve. (In other words, he is about one of the highest in the church leadership wise). It is an honor to have one the Twelve visit. After all there are only 12 of them and a GREAT BIG WORLD to cover. In celebration of that honor, all of these youth, 760 to be exact, spent two weeks of their summer vacation practicing their dance numbers they would perform. The result was amazing.

I wanted to make sure that I got some good photos, so I sat up on the floor with all the other camera people. I could not help but be impressed with these youth and their willingness to be here performing at a church function, when there are SO many other things their peers are doing on a Friday night.

Their dances ranged from the Filipino-ized versions of Spanish dances—a result of 400 years of Spanish Colonization—to the traditional Filipino dances like Tinikling. They had dances from each region of the Philippines—showing how diverse the heritage and cultures each of the 7,000+ islands hold. Their costumes were beautiful and colorful—photos don’t do it justice and the stories the dances told were fascinating. 

One dance from the Northern mountain region, men danced with their spears and women balanced 8 or 9 clay pots on their heads to show their stamina while they danced. Another dance from the South was a blend of Indo-Malay dancing, colors and culture. My favorite I would have to say was the little primary kids. They did the “Duck Dance.” They came out in their little yellow outfits and were so cute.  Their ages ranged from 5-10 years old. As they set up I had to laugh because there was one 5 year old girl, who was in the front as they were arranged by age and size. She turned around before the music started and was adjusting all the dancers so they were in a perfect line. It was so much fun to hear the happy-light music start and see these little kids dance perfectly on beat. They were talented.

As I sat on the floor there ended up being a collection of children around me watching too. There was one little girl that sat right next to me and said, “This is the 4th dance. My sisters are in the 6th Dance. Will you take pictures of my sisters too?” She was so excited to see her sisters dance. When it was time for the dance she was all but jumping onto the dance floor. “ATE!” (Name for the older sister) she yelled as the sisters as they went by. I tried to take a photo of her without her knowing as she was mimicking their moves. You could tell how much she loved her older sisters.

At the end of the show, a group sang a song about unity even though there are hundreds of languages and thousands of islands and all the performers came in to sit on the dance floor. It was amazing to see all 760 of them sitting together. Truly a site to behold. At the end of the meeting Elder Nelson decided to shake all their hands. They youth were so excited they started to clap! Again I was impressed by how they had done all of this—all the preparation, the sacrifice of time and talents—to perform for something they believe in. That made the whole night more powerful.

The “Rising Generation” is truly a courageous and honorable group.