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Melisa Mayeda
Dance Lead

LEADERSHIP SPOTLIGHT

Melisa Mayeda

Before joining Parangal Dance Company, I had a very limited view on what Filipino folk dance is and the potential of what it could be.  It wasn’t until after I joined Parangal that I found a deeper meaning and connection to the Philippine culture through valuable research and learning directly from the indigenous tribes of the Philippines. My experiences in Filipino folk dance is based in Barrio and Spanish influenced dances.  Sampaguita Dance Troupe in Stockton, Ca is the first Filipino folk dance group I joined at the age of 7 and I enjoyed it so much as a kid that I continued practicing, joined University Of the Pacific’s PCN, and performed with highschool peers at local community events.  But I found myself at a plateau and wondered if there was more to it than just staging a dance on stage for other Fil-Am communities.  It wasn’t until I moved out to San Francisco for college and met Eric Solano through PCN rehearsals at San Francisco State University back in 2008 that he showed me a plethora of dances I haven’t discovered yet from indigenous groups that mainly reside in the southern regions of the Philippines.  I started to learn so much more about dances from Philippine groups such as Tboli, Ta’u Sug, Mindanao, Subanen, and so much more.  I was hooked!  The exceptional outreach Parangal does for its local and international communities and community back home in the Philippines is also a major reason why I’ve continued to work with and support Parangal’s missions and goals through all these years.


During the early years with Parangal, I recall many scrappy rehearsal nights with barely any attires to wear for shows.  We were a very small group trying our best with the materials and knowledge we had on hand.  It was difficult sometimes, but we all pushed through with our shared passion for dance and formed a pamilya-like bond.  Now, the Parangal pamilya has grown into a full blown organization with a board of directors, executive, and artistic team!  I’m so proud to witness Parangal grow in a positive direction where we can now educate those looking for information and contribute back to the indigenous groups in the Philippines through research, awareness, and workshops.


I never tire working with Parangal because there is always something new to discover.  The members of Parangal keep inspiring me to look beyond what we execute on stage and give respect to every aspect of the process we do from outreach, research, and finally staging the piece.  I never fully realized the global impact we could have until I joined an immersion trip in 2014.  We spent days traveling and learning everything we could in the Philippines directly from the source and it was exhilitering.  It was revolutionary for Parangal to take it’s members back home to the Philippines and learn first hand the culture and traditions of the indigenous groups and hear their stories.  What makes Parangal so unique is that we don’t end the learning once we leave the Philippines.  We continue to have constant conversations with the cultural bearers even after we leave and make sure we respect everything that is showcased on stage.


As we continue to evolve, I’m excited to see what else we can achieve in the coming years.  I’m especially excited because I’ll be able to contribute as a Dance Lead and take on a more active leadership role.  Parangal has so many budding talents and potential to further revolutionize the Filipino folk dance space.  I am constantly in awe at the historical value we’ve instilled into each piece Parangal has staged and I’m eager to continually discover something valuable of the Philippine culture.

Melisa Mayeda
Parangal, Dance Lead