I first saw Parangal in 2013 for Handuraw at Skyline College, and later in 2014 for San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival at Yerba Buena. During this time I was dancing with Little Manila Dance Collective in Stockton and Eric was a mentor and resource for our group. At that time, a couple of our members had already been dancing with Parangal and so I decided to check it out.
I joined Parangal in 2015 for Alamat. I was casted in a few pieces and down the road, I was eventually casted as lead for Bagobo, for which I learned “Arubasa,” a chant/prayer that opens the piece. This threw me off because I was just starting to learn the basic movements of the dances I was in. Referencing the original resource for the chant, I pieced the words to a melody and committed it to memory. It was still a little rough but I chanted as confidently as I could on the stage at Skyline College. I knew if I were to chant again that I would push myself to do it with even more confidence, which I eventually had the opportunity to do when I committed to Parangal’s first international tour.
I first toured with the Parangal family in 2016 at FolkFaro Festival in Portugal and Spain; it was an opportunity for growth and exploration that fell into place at just the right time in my life. As a new member on my first tour I remember feeling overwhelmed from having so much to learn before we took off for Europe but it’s been through these experiences that I’ve grown so much.
As the opening segment to a few performances in Portugal, I remember the feeling of chanting Arubasa. Having practiced it numerous times in front of the group at rehearsals, I could feel my confidence level change from the first time I performed it at Skyline College. That night, it was Parangal’s turn on the main stage. Warm and humid night, just like each day before, the chant carried, without hesitation from my chest to the crowd, with almost no worry on that stage in Faro, Portugal. That feeling is what Parangal has really pushed me to feel and allowed me to experience.
Though challenging, mentally and physically, being part of a touring group becomes a gateway to individual and collective growth; if you’re willing, you’ll learn from and about each other in ways that you might not otherwise get to in a regular rehearsal, from mentors that you won’t find anywhere else. You come to do things with other people that you wouldn’t normally do yourself. You stay out late, you do laundry together, talk with each other and with people from other countries. Your heart and mind open to new ideas and perspectives. You become part of a family that gets hard to say no to but that brings you closer to the world around you and the culture and heritage of ancestors that you might not get the chance to learn about in other parts of your life.