The beginning of the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER goes
back to the early 1920's and the Filipiniana Folk Arts Troupe working at Philippine
Women's Collegenow University (PWU)to preserve and promote Philippine culture.
A feature of its program was the presentation of folk dance and music.
Among foreign visitors struck by the beauty of these performances were
American dancers Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Dennis who visited Manila in 1926 and wrote the
president of Philippine Women's College predicting that at some future time Philippine
dance would be recognized on the international stage. In 1958 at the Brussels Universal
Exposition this prophecy came true. In competition with professional classic and folk
dance groups from around the world, the amateur dancers from the Philippines "struck
like a flash of lightning in the darkness," as one Brussels critic put it.
The program of Philippine folk dance and music offered at the Brussels
fair was culled from tribal treasuries and traditional festivities. It was the result of
continuous research and travel by PWU staff members to observe and record indigenous
Philippine art forms which were then choreographed and staged with modern theatrical
That such a program could stand the test of international critics had
been proven in December 1954 at the Pakistan Folk Dance Festival where the Philippines
participated with Indonesia, Burma, Thailand and Malaysia. The warm response to the
program presented by the troupe inspired PWU to go into larger scale production. A more
elaborate program was presented in Manila in November 1956, with repeat performances in
February 1957. This program, which featured folk dances executed on a seven-level stage,
was highly commended by Philippine critics.
These successes underscored the need for a formal organization to guide
and direct further work and future expansion. In 1957 the Filipiniana Folk Music and Dance
Group that had been functioning informally at the university for some years was
reorganized as the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER. Its purposes were: to conduct and
coordinate research on Filipino culture; to collect and preserve indigenous art forms and
encourage their use in present day living; to provide instruction for those interested in
Filipino dances and music; and to give performances at home and abroad which would
stimulate and enhance appreciation and understanding of Philippine art and culture.
President of the CENTER was Helena Z. Benitez, executive vice-president of PWU and one of
the outstanding educators and civic leaders in the Philippines.
It was soon evident that the CENTER could not attain its goals without
effective promotion and sound financing and that a corporate body was necessary.
Accordingly in January 1959 the Bayanihan Folk Arts Association was incorporated to share
jointly with PWU the administration of the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER.
With its expanded program the CENTER went deeper into research and
promotion of folk arts. Faculty members of PWU traveled throughout the islands observing
and recording the folkways of the Muslims and pagans of the south; the rituals and
ceremonials of tribes in the north, Aetas in Zambales, Mangyans in Mindoro, and Ati-Atihan
of Aklan; the artifacts of the Tagbuanas of Palawan; and the rural customs and Spanish
influences in the predominantly Roman Catholic provinces.
The CENTER began to compile an archive of folklore and music recorded
on tape, and dances and costumes filmed in color, both supplemented by written
descriptions. This storehouse became the resource for performances which would transmit
this rich heritage to the people of the Philippines and later to the world. A training
program was set up by the University for talented students. Soon, the Bayanihan dance
group was being invited to appear at various community affairs and to perform for foreign
dignitaries and tourist groups. On September 7, 1957 the CENTER began giving monthly
recitals. Tourists and members of foreign missions who attended were unanimous in their
praise of the unusual charm of Philippine dances and music.
Elaborating and expanding the elements of the program the PWU staff
eventually evolved a presentation called Pasalubong Sa Bayan-Glimpses of Philippine
Culture. The performance was divided into five parts:
Dances of the Mountain Region were derived from customs and lore
of the pagan folk in the mountains of northern Luzonthanksgiving festivals, tribal
victories, and religious rituals. Musical instruments included the nose flute, bamboo
guitar, gongs of various sizes and shapes, drums and wooden sticks.
Fiesta Filipina depicted the influence on Philippine life of 400
years of Spanish rule and the conversion of a majority of Filipinos to Roman Catholicism;
as European cultural ideas were adapted and blended into the native culture the waltz,
polka, jota, pandango and mazurka, among others, were Filipinized.
Muslim Suite reflected the customs and culture of the people
living on the large southern island of Mindanao and the adjacent Sulu Archipelago. Music,
dance and costumes of this portion showed the influence of Arabian and Indo-Malayan
culture in the life of the 700,000 Filipinos who embraced Islam as early as the 14th
Regional Variations featured a collection of typical dances from
various parts of the Philippines reflecting in the diversity of type, tempo and music the
many-faceted character of the nation composed of over 7,000 islands and showing Malayan,
Indian, Chinese, Spanish and American influences.
Rural Philippine Suite, based on dances of the lowland,
rice-growing countryside, expressed the people's joy in work, love for music and gaiety
and gratitude for a good harvest or simply for a pretty day.
In late 1957, when the Philippine Government appealed to PWU for a
group to present a program of folk dances and music at the Brussels Universal Exposition,
preparation of the program was the least worry. Although the late President Magsaysay had
pledged Philippine participation in the Exposition, the government could only allocate to
the performing group funds sufficient to cover seven days' living and incidental expenses.
The group would have to pay its own transportation and production expenses. PWU trustees
accepted the challenge and the Bayanihan was named the Philippine Cultural Representative
to the Brussels Universal Exposition.
A Finance Committee was formed, with Helena Benitez as chairman, and
appeals were made to rally backing for the trip. With parents of the student-participants
and PWU giving major support, civic-minded individuals, organizations and business firms
joined to provide P143,000 travel expenses. Thus the project fittingly named Bayanihan has
exemplified since its start the true bayanihan spirit and way of life working
On the way to Brussels the troupe performed in Bangkok, Rome, Madrid
and Barcelona. The response in each city was encouraging, but it was in Brussels that the
troupe became an overnight sensation. "Twinkling on their toes, sway-balancing to a
struck crowd, the dancers brought the tinikling and the pandango sa ilaw,
the Ifugao dances and the Muslim Suite before theater goers some of whom had never heard
of the Philippines." American television personality Ed Sullivan, whose show drew a
40-million audience, filmed the tinikling for use on his program.
Heartened by their reception in Brussels, the Bayanihan gave
performances in Copenhagen, Stockholm, New York, Washington, San Francisco and Honolulu
before returning to Manila.
The acclaim in Brussels and other cities established the Bayanihan not
only as a refreshing contribution to international theater, but also as an effective means
of promoting the Philippines. As offers to perform in various countries began to come in,
President García authorized Helena Benitez to negotiate on behalf of the government; on
March 7, 1959 the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Group was designated officially to
"represent the Philippines as a cultural mission to the Americas and Europe for
Setting out on its second tour in September 1959 the troupe was
composed of 45 dancers and a staff of fivewhich again included Lucrecia R. Kasilag,
music director; Isabel A. Santos, costume director, and Jose Lardizabal, technical
director. As before, none of the dancers were professional and they would receive only
living expenses. Any funds remaining after living and transportation costs were paid would
go to the Bayanihan Trust Fund for research and expansion of folk art study.
The repertoire was essentially the same as that for the Brussels
Exposition, except for improvement and rearrangement of the Igorot and Muslim dances, the
latter incorporating results of recent research in Lanao. The costumes, which had been so
widely praised by critics on the first tour, were all new. The company traveled with some
300 boxes of dress luggage, one sack of polished coconut shells for the bao dance,
10 big and 20 small gongs for the tribal dances, 30 slim bamboos for tinikling, and
500 pieces of guava wood for other dances. There were also wooden mortar and pestles for
the rice planting dance, a nipa hut, native buntings and decorations.
After a performance in Honolulu, the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company
opened on Broadway October 13, 1959 under the sponsorship of America's foremost
impresario, Sol Hurok. John Martin, dance critic of the New York Times, called the
performance "An evening of enchantment. . . .beautiful to look at, to listen to. . .
.The whole program is an artistic accomplishment that may well be unprecedented. . .
.Certainly from now on we shall all look at the Philippines with new eyes." Variety,
the weekly magazine of show business, noted: "Seldom has an important group of folk
entertainers projected to the American eye and ear such an appealing picture of their
Because of this response, the Bayanihan engagement was extended one
week, for a total of three weeks on Broadway. In addition to their theater performances,
the group made a recording of 12 songs and dance scores for world-wide distribution.
Originally scheduled to present one number on the nationally televised Dinah Shore Show,
at Miss Shore's request they presented three. Life magazine devoted four pages to
pictures of the troupe under the caption, "Philippine Dancers Delight the U.S."
A highlight of the three weeks in New York was a performance given in
the United Nations General Assembly Hall under the auspices of the Philippine delegation
as a "cultural measure for international goodwill." The distinguished audience
of more than 2,000 diplomats and members of the United Nations Secretariat included
Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold and Dr. Victor Andres Belaunde, President of the
General Assembly. This performance was dedicated to Philippine President García in honor
of his 63rd birthday. In expressing his thanks, President García complimented the troupe
on "performing its role most creditably as cultural ambassadors of goodwill."
Ambassador Francisco Delgado, Chairman of the Philippine Delegation to the UN, praised
Helena Benitez for "having the foresight and courage as well as her deep love for
country to bring our. . .culture to the attention of the whole world."
The group traveled on to give performances in Boston, Washington, and
six other major American cities. At each performance the response was similarlarge
crowds, standing ovations and innumerable curtain calls. By now, too, the group was easily
recognized whenever they went on sightseeing tours because of the publicity they had
received. From Filipinos living in the United States came many expressions of pleasure at
the articles about Philippine culture generated in every city where the dancers appeared.
The company, they said, helped give dignity and identity to the Filipino.
Originally the tour was to end after the Los Angeles performance, but
the favorable critical reviews and the responsive audiences brought offers from Mexico,
England, Belgium, Italy, France and Israel which the troupe decided to accept.
Mexican critics called Bayanihan the outstanding troupe of its kind to
be seen there in years. Because of the tremendous demand for tickets the troupe's schedule
in Mexico City was lengthened by two days. In Acapulco the troupe added a matinee
performance. The wife of Mexico's president attended two nights in a row and later
entertained the company at her summer residence there. Several newspaper stories, in
welcoming this "invasion" by the young men and women of the Philippine dance
group, recalled that Acapulco was the West Coast port where the Manila galleons put in
four centuries ago. The Mexican national costume, China Poblana, is thought by many
to be taken from the costume of Filipinas who arrived on those ships.
From their next stop, London, one member wrote home: "The group is
most eager to please the British audience because. . .London is said to be the dance
center of the world. . . . Unless we present something that is really good as well as
unique, I am afraid we will not get much notice." But opening night in London brought
"unusually warm raves from the traditionally cool British audiences." The Observer
said, "The Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company is well rehearsed and beautifully
produced. The extraordinary variety of influences exploited with wonderful skill. . . .
[is] as refreshing on a January evening as a bunch of summer flowers." The Sunday
Times commented: "It is delightful to make acquaintance with the art of yet
another land and, thanks to the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company, to be able to
associate the names of Luzon and Manila with something other than desperate battles."
A highlight of the three-week stay in London was a gala performance
attended by British royalty and most of London's diplomatic corps. Philippine Ambassador
Leon Ma. Guerrero said that it was the first time in recent memory that members of the
royal family had attended a performance of a foreign dance company. The Bayanihan dancers
were also seen by millions of Britons on three television programs.
On February 8, 1960 the group began a two-week engagement in Belgium's
main cities. Brussels welcomed their return, giving them nine curtain calls on opening
night. The group was particularly excited to perform in Ghent for this gave them an
opportunity to see the house where their national hero, Jose Rizal, lived andin
1891wrote his famous novel, El Filibusterismo.
The group next went to Nice for two days of performances and then to
Italy for the balance of February and most of March. Italian audiences also were warmly
receptive and before the tour was over people who had seen them on stage or television
were stopping them on the streets just to say how fascinated they were with their dances.
In Milan the troupe learned that they would be going on to Paris and likely to Israel.
The group arrived in Paris on April 1 to a round of "press
conferences, interviews, picture conferences, television shows and parties." Summing
up their first week's performance extended to a second weekone group member said
that Paris "seemed to love our dances . . . .In the seven performances we had here,
every show was done before a full house." Helena Benitez called the reception given
the Bayanihan by the public and press in Paris "overwhelming," and Salvador P.
Lopez, Philippine Ambassador to France, said: "The Bayanihan performances have been
among the greatest friendship builders for the Philippines ever to arrive in Paris."
The Bayanihan's performances at the Theatre des Nations Festival in Paris won them an
international award. Competing with theater and dance companies from all over the world in
this annual six-month long festival, the Bayanihan was given the Special Critics Award for
the best traditional folk dance troupe.
The group arrived in Israel on April 18 for one week of performances,
and the Israeli government requested their stay be extended a second week so the group
could participate in the Israel Independence Day festival on May 2. Mrs. Golda Meir, then
Israeli Foreign Minister, wrote: "Thank you for coming. I am sure that yours is a
great contribution to the realization of real international brotherhood. What can one wish
for more than the meeting of young people in beautiful dance and song."
Finally, after eight months, the Bayanihan company was on its way home.
The performers had made many sacrifices to continue on this long tour, forgoing studies
and employment for the privilege of representing their country abroad. For these young
people, all under 25, eight months was a long time to be away, and they were often
homesick for families and friends. In spite of the fascination of the cities they visited
and the hospitality of people everywhere, they often longed for the food to which they
were accustomed and for the warmth of the Philippine climate.
New York's cold fall weather had had the dancers shivering, as they had
only one light coat or suit each, and no dollars to buy warm clothing. An appeal had to be
sent to the Central Bank in Manila to release funds to enable them to buy warm underwear,
mufflers, gloves, hats and stockings.
Hardships and cold were quickly forgotten, however, in the glow of
their homecoming. A crowd of about 5,000 gathered at the Manila airport on May 6 to greet
them in a ceremony which included the Philippine Constabulary Band and a special detail of
the Philippine Airforce Escort. An elaborate motorcade escorted the dance group first to
the Manila Cathedral where a Te Deum was held, and then on to Philippine Women's
University for a press conference followed by a luncheon. At the press conference Helena
Benitez reported that the troupe had given 149 regular performances and 33 matinees in
their eight-month tour, with a total attendance of 232,300, excluding television and radio
audiences. Further, the Bayanihan had succeeded in doing two things: selling the
Philippines abroad and proving that the Philippines in cultural matters is on a par with
Miss Benitez also announced that the group would perform in the Araneta
Coliseum in Manila and then in other key Philippine cities to help recoup the financial
losses of the tour and to give Filipinos an opportunity to see the "celebrated
company that today is rated high among the world's top folk ballet companies."
Following these performances, the staff and cast would be disassembled to enable them to
resume their interrupted academic life. The group would not be reorganized until the 1961
schedule of performances abroad was worked out.
To finance the 1959-60 tour, the Bayanihan Folk Arts Association
Finance Committee had raised funds from private citizens and groups, and from patrons in
the U.S. Production expenses were met by PWU but the 253,000 pesos for
transportation costs were not fully covered and bank loans had to be contracted. Funds
raised by the benefit performances at the Araneta Coliseum were used to repay these loans.
The P20,000 surplus was shared with the civic and charitable groups that sponsored the
In summing up the 1959-60 tour the Manila Bulletin said:
"They literally danced their way into the hearts of audiences from Broadway to Tel
Aviv, contributing to international awareness of Filipino dances and culture and building
up a huge reservoir of goodwill for our homeland. At the same time, they enriched their
storehouse of knowledge of foreign countries by actual contact with the peoples, and. .
.can contribute to greater understanding between our country and others."
The Evening News of May 25 added that, "in the shower of
plaudits on this wonderful troupe, so richly earned. . .one thing sometimes is overlooked.
. . . Miss Helena Z. Benitez, the lady who conceived the idea and whose dedication and
single-minded devotion made it possible for the young boys and girls of the troupe to win
so much goodwill for the Philippines. . . .To her, therefore, should go the thanks and
appreciation of a grateful people. She has done a tremendous job of selling the
During the July 4, 1960 anniversary celebration of independence
President García, in his address to the nation, cited the Bayanihan tour as one of the
major Philippine achievements of 1959-60 and awarded a presidential plaque of merit to the
group; the previous year the Philippine Republic Medal had been awarded to Helena Benitez
as president of the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER for her outstanding work in international
Plans meanwhile were being made for the 1961-62 season. President
García gave permission to the Bayanihan Folk Arts Association to consider tour offers a
year and half ahead to insure advance publicity and satisfactory theater arrangements
under impresarios who would guarantee internal travel and living expenses of the group.
The President also designated Bayanihan as Special Cultural Mission for 1961-62 and agreed
to endorse a government subsidy for transportation expenses. Legislation to make the
subsidy available was introduced with bipartisan sponsorship and signed by the President
as Republic Act No. 3042. This act provided P200,000 annually for overseas transportation
for any cultural group meeting the requirements and designated by the President as a
In December 1960 an announcement was made that the 1961-62 season would
begin with a 13-week coast-to-coast tour of the United States, opening in San Francisco on
September 18 and highlighted by two performances at the Metropolitan Opera House in New
York on November 19. For this American tour no guarantee of financial backing was
required, a tangible proof of the confidence theatrical agencies now had in Bayanihan's
appeal to audiences. Tours of Europe and the Middle East were to follow, covering a
minimum of 27 performing weeks. A second Bayanihan group was signed for a cultural mission
to Australia and New Zealand in 1962.
The theme of the Bayanihan's third international cultural tour was
"Trade With the Philippines." The 1958 theme had been "Know the
Philippines," and the 1959-60 theme "See the Philippines." These earlier
themes had enlisted the active support and cooperation of the Philippine Tourist and
Travel Association which, for some years, had taken a special interest in the promotion of
folk dance; this art, more than anything else in the Philippines, had proven to have the
most appeal for visitors. In a special Bayanihan Supplement to the Manila Chronicle,
August 18, 1961, the Tourist and Travel Association commented on the group's
accomplishments: "It is the general consensus that in its two world tours, in 1958
and in 1959-60, the Bayanihan did more to advertise the Philippines than any of the
previous efforts from official and business quarters. People who came to the theater to be
entertained were soon inquiring about the country, where it was located, what its climate
was like, what was its history. . . . The number of visitors to the Philippines increased
by a totally unexpected percentage. . . from 34,000 in 1959 to over 50,000 in 1960. There
may not be any direct relation between the international success of Bayanihan and the
swelling of tourist traffic to the Philippines, but the coincidence is certainly not to be
To promote the theme of their third tour the Bayanihan Folk Arts
Association enlisted the cooperation of local and foreign businesses and industrial
enterprises and the Philippine Chamber of Industries, particularly for exhibits to be
shown in key cities around the world where the dance troupe would be performing.
On August 18, 1961 the Bayanihan troupe sailed on the liner Orcades
to begin their third world tour. The group was composed of 30 dancers and 15 musicians,
most of whom were university students on leave. They were accompanied by Leticia de
Guzman, administrator of PWU who had been with the two previous tours.
Following their opening in San Francisco critics for both the San
Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chroniclewho had seen the troupe
two years earliercredited Philippine Women's University for keeping the performances
"unceasingly alive, enjoyable and up-to-date entertainment." In Los Angeles, the
mayor proclaimed Philippine Dance Week, and the Los Angeles Times, also contrasting
this performance with the earlier visit, said that the program had been "refined and
expanded with an expert sense of theater that permits the Bayanihan Troupe to hold its own
with the best of ethnic organizations before the public today."
Their one day appearance in New York at the Metropolitan Opera House
elicited from the dance critic of the New York Times the comment that, "This
is really treating us badly, for a more utterly winning and beautiful show would be hard
to imagine, and we could do with a great deal more of it." The matinee performance
was sponsored by the Philippine mission to the United Nations, with delegates of the U.N.
as guests. The gala evening performance was a benefit sponsored by the American Field
Service to raise funds for their international student exchange program.
The coast-to-coast tour of the United States covered 65 cities and
ended in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 19, 1961. New Year's Day the group embarked
upon the European leg of their tour that began in Antwerp, Belgium, on January 3 and ended
in Naples, Italy, May 11. A tour of the Middle Eastfrom May 24 to July 6was
followed by performances at the Seattle World's Fair, the Vancouver International Arts
Festival, in Honolulu and neighboring Hawaiian islands, and Tokyo.
During the full year they were on tourAugust 18, 1961 to August
18, 1962the dancers gave a total of 316 performances in 129 cities in the United
States, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Canada and Japan. At the Hanover
Industrial Fair in Germany, the Israel International Commercial Fair, and later at the
Seattle World's Fair, the group for the first time participated as a cultural adjunct in
the promotion of Philippine commerce and industry. They also engaged in TV, radio and
movie newsreel programs, conferences, forums, cultural and social activities. On stage and
off stage, these dancing diplomats won friends and admirers for the Philippines.
With the exception of a trip to Indonesia to perform at the invitation
of President Sukarno during Indonesian Independence Day celebrations, no international
tours were undertaken in 1963. The year was devoted to creation of new programs, and
practice for the fourth international tour scheduled for 1964. This was to involve two
groups, each with different repertoires: one to fulfill a seven-month engagement in the
AmericasNorth, Central and South; the other a three-month tour of Australia.
New dance numbers created for the 1964 tours were the result of nearly
two years of study by the Bayanihan Research Team, headed by choreographer Lucrecia Reyes
Urtula. The team traveled to remote areas of the country to capture the spirit of tribal
dances and rituals which were then translated into theatrical terms. The much-praised pagdiwata,
for example, grew from a weekend Lucrecia Urtula spent among the Tagbuanas of Palawan who
were celebrating their rice harvest, followed by painstaking study and planning to assure
authenticity of costumes, the right paraphernalia, atmosphere, music and setting.
The group that departed for the 1964 Tour of the Americas was composed
of 48 dancers, musicians and staff headed by Company Director and Bayanihan Executive
Director Leticia de Guzman. The 18-week tour to 60 cities of the United States and Canada
began in Los Angeles. Over the next five months, traveling in two chartered buses, with a
cargo van carrying three and one-half tons of props, costumes and lighting equipment, the
company covered nearly 20,000 miles and, in 96 performances, played to approximately
The new repertoire won continuing critical and popular acclaim. The Seattle
Times wrote: "The Bayanihan offered several surprises but none so conspicuous as
the transition in the space of two years from a spirited but somewhat naive troupe to a
polished, dazzling company. The addition of many more spirited dances has promoted variety
and interest in Bayanihan performances." The dance critic of the San Francisco
Chronicle called the new program "more theatrical, better timed and more richly
costumed then ever before."
In early June 1964 the Bayanihan participated in the inauguration
festivities of the new Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. The New
York Herald Tribune's critic noted that "behind the dancers and their remarkable
gifts lies the genius of Lucrecia Reyes Urtula, the choreographer, who ranks with Russia's
Igor Moiseyev, Mexico's Amalia Hernandez and our own Agnes de Mille in the brilliant
translating of ethnic dance forms into theatrical terms." Bayanihan also performed in
the Philippine Pavilion at the opening of the New York World's Fair, appeared twice on the
Ed Sullivan television show and were extravagantly lauded in his New York Daily News
column, "Little Old New York."
The Latin American portion of the tour opened in Venezuela in July 1964
with a series of performances in Caracas, then proceeded to Bogota, Medellin and Cali,
Colombia. The company's reception in Venezuela and Colombia brought requests for
performances in other South American countries, but these had to be deferred to a possible
Latin American tour in March 1965.
In Mexico, the last stop, the company's two-week engagement was part of
the celebration marking the Mexican-Philippine Year of Friendship. President Adolfo Lopez
Mateos headed the distinguished audience at the opening performance and, at the reception
he gave in their honor, reiterated his country's friendship for the Philippines. At
another party given by Amalia Hernandez, director and choreographer of the famed
state-subsidized Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, the First Lady presented each Bayanihan
member and staff with a commemorative gold coin. On August 23, 1964 the troupe returned to
In the meantime, the other dance group had been on an equally
successful three-month tour as the Bayanihan Cultural Mission to Australia. Composed of 45
members, this company covered 3,400 rail miles and gave 70 performances in Adelaide,
Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. The highlight of their tour was the two-week performance
at the prestigious Adelaide Festival of Arts witnessed by nearly 20,000 persons. A
columnist in the Adelaide Advertiser commented, "The dancers have brought
their rich cultural heritage to the festival and stimulated a searching and questioning
for our own heritage. . . ." The Melbourne Age hailed the dancers as
"ambassadors-at-large, projecting across the footlights the image of a gay, smiling,
Another Bayanihan accomplishment in furthering Philippine-Australian
friendship was the materialization of an exchange student travel project sponsored by the
National Union of Australian Universities and Colleges. Six members of the Bayanihan
company became guests of the Australian Overseas Student Travel Scheme, staying on with
families in Sydney and observing and studying along their particular lines of interest.
Under this exchange plan 30 young Australians came to the Philippines in December 1964 for
observation and study and were housed with Filipino families to get a closer look at their
way of living.
The Bayanihan's cultural efforts had an impact at home as well as
abroad. This important fact was stressed in an article in the Manila Times,
September 17, 1964: "Social historians of the future when assessing the causes that
in the sixties did much to revive self-pride in the nation will. . .point to the Bayanihan
Dance Company as one of these potent forces. The image that they have evoked of the
national life and culture. . .energizes a Filipino's self-esteem and. . .makes him like
himself better. This is important if he is to do his best and. . .propel the nation
forward toward progress."
In spite of the artistic successes and acclaim of the 1964 tours, the
Bayanihan company was again in debt and a series of local performances was scheduled for
the Araneta Coliseum from September 23-27 in an attempt to wipe out, or at least lessen,
the deficit. As Helena Benitez pointed out in an interview with the Philippines Free
Press, September 19, 1964: "The least understood idea is that artistic success is
not financial success. . . . Bayanihan has been ranked by most critics and
impresarios of other countries as one of the top three folk dance troupes in the world. .
. .But it has been a continuing struggle for Bayanihan against . . .huge debts incurred
every time it sets out. . .to 'project the true cultural image of the Philippines to the
"We are often asked," Miss Benitez continued, "why
Bayanihan insists on presenting Filipino folk dances abroad in spite of the deficits the
company regularly encounters. Call it a sense of fulfilling a mission, a sense of pride in
doing our share of promoting the Filipino image abroad."
The BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER is open to all who wish to participate
in its continuing rediscovery of Filipino roots through research and recording of island
folk ways. The Saturday recitals given by the national performing group have already
become an important feature of Manila's cultural life. Local civic groups ask for special
presentations, and the national performing group has made a number of provincial tours and
has helped raise funds for civic and charitable organizations throughout the islands.
Regular classes are offered by the CENTER at PWU and also by branch CENTERS at the
Philippine Women's College in Iloilo and Davao. Young men and women wishing to train and
try out for the performing groups may enroll at the CENTER for systematic apprenticeship,
including participation in the weekly recitals.
While the training program has logically concentrated on these
potential performers, young men and women from all over the nation, with a generous
sprinkling of students of other nationalities, have studied at the CENTER. Folk dance
classes are a regular summer offering. An offshoot of the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER's
field researches on dance, music, costumes and handicrafts is the Bayanihan Museum at PWU,
established in 1957. The collection continues to grow. The museum also has on display all
the memorabilia of Bayanihan's international toursphotographs, posters, playbills,
newspaper clippings and critics' reviews. With these is an assortment of books and
pamphlets on folk dance, music, costumes and handicrafts of other countries. Primitive
musical instruments lend color and a touch of antiquity to the collection. There are also
tribal weapons, authentic costumes, handloomed fabrics, and rare 18th and 19th century
prints showing costumes, people and places of earlier Philippine days. Volunteers among
the research groups in the CENTERS in Iloilo and Davao have begun to build folk museums
for the use of their communities.
Bayanihan's international tours have helped bring folk art to world
prominence and have resulted in a growing cultural interchange. In many instances common
links between the Philippines and other countries have been revived. Bayanihan's success
has stimulated the organization of similar projects and explorations of
"beginnings" in South and Central America, Australia and Asia. Staff members of
the Bayanihan company have been invited to help some of these countries adapt their folk
dances for theater productions. All this provides fresh inspiration for the BAYANIHAN FOLK
ARTS CENTER to continue its program of research; recruitment and training of dancers,
musicians and technicians; and creation of artistic theater with universal appeal.
The ancient custom of bayanihan implies a continuitya
togetherness throughout the year. For the BAYANIHAN FOLK ARTS CENTER, the past has
confirmed and the future promises that "showing and teaching our dances can win
friends for the Philippines, because dancing embodies the heart and soul of our people. It
is a way of communicating that shatters all barriers brought about by a different skin
color, a different language, a different nation. In the dance, the peoples of the world
"Bank Loans; Three Tons of Costumes, and Bravado,'' Manila Chronicle Magazine.
September 12, 1964.
"Bayanihan Is Back," New York Times, Sunday Magazine. May 17,
"Bayanihan To Broadway," Manila Times, Sunday Magazine.
September 20, 1959.
"The Bayanihan Is Broke," Philippines Herald. September 19, 1964.
"Bayanihan Captures Broadway," Kislap Graphic, Manila. October 28,
"BayanihanThe Folk Dance Becomes Good Theatre," Asia Magazine,
Hongkong. Vol. 2, no. 1, January 7, 1962.
"Bayanihan in London," Manila Times, Sunday Magazine. April 17, 1960.
"Bayanihan Named To Cultural Mission," Manila Times, May 30, 1959.
"Bayanihan: Philippine Spectacular," Evening News. Manila. June 1, 1962.
"Bayanihan Resumes Research Program," Philippines Herald. October 26,
"The Bayanihan Story," Woman and the Home, Manila Chronicle, Sunday
Magazine. July 8, 1962, p. 22.
"Bayanihan Success Spurs National Theatre Movement," Manila Times.
November 18, 1959.
"Bayanihan, The 1961-62 Season," Philippines Herald. August 18, 1961.
"Bayanihan, Third Cultural Tour," Manila Chronicle, Supplement. August
"Bayanihan, Twinkling on Their Toes," Philippines Herald, Magazine.
October 3, 1964.
"Bubbling Bayanihan Dancers," Seattle Times, March 6, 1964.
"Can the Bayanihan Still Hold Foreign Audiences?" Manila Times, Sunday
Magazine. September 20. 1964.
Cassidy, Claudia. "On the Aisle: Bayanihan Dancers A Fresh, Original and
Delightful Troupe," Chicago Sunday Tribune. November 22, 1959.
Hughes, Allen. "Dance: Bayanihan Troupe Returns," New York Times. June
Martin, John. "Dance: Filipino Troupe," New York Times. October 14,
"N. Y. Critics Acclaim Opening of Bayanihan on Broadway," Manila Bulletin.
October 15, 1959.
Our First Five Years. Report of the Bayanihan Folk Arts Association, Inc., 1963.
"Pages From the Bayanihan Diary of Ricardo and Alice Reyes," Manila
Bulletin. October 1959-May 1960.
Souvenir Programs. Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company. 1961-64.
"Spot Light Falls on PWU's Bayanihan," Manila Times, Sunday Magazine.
August 6, 1961.
Terry, Walter. "Dance: Philippine Dance Company," New York Herald Tribune.
October 14, 1959.
______. "The Dance World: Bayanihan Creates A New Dance Art," New York
Herald Tribune. October 18, 1959.
______. "Philippine Dance Company Delights At Lincoln Center," New York
Herald Tribune. June 10, 1964.
"This is Bayanihan," Free World. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Information
Agency. Vol. 8, no. 3, March 1959.
"With Bayanihan on the Road," Philippines Herald, Series of Articles
Covering the 1961-62 Tour.
Miscellaneous articles, feature and other stories, 1959- 1965, from the
Manila Bulletin, Manila Chronicle, Daily Mirror, Evening News, Philippines Herald, and