Filipino teacher keeps folk dance alive in Stockton

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Little Manila Dance Collective
Little Manila Dance Collective [via Facebook]

A folk dance teacher-choreographer has decided that one of the best ways to celebrate his birthday is to do something incredible for the community, especially for the preservation of the culture.

California’s elementary school teacher Brian Batugo decided to re-establish a sense of Filipino culture, tradition and identity for his 26th birthday by putting up the #SaveFolkDance crowd sourcing campaign to help in creating the Little Manila Dance Collective.

Along with the Filipino-American history class and Eskrima martial arts programs offered at Little Manila Center, the LMDC lists its offering as a program for Filipino folk and indigenous choreography, music, and costumes open to the whole community of San Joaquin County.

This dance collective program is part of the Little Manila Foundation in Stockton, an organization which advocates for the preservation of Stockton’s Filipino-American history and heritage.

In an interview with Good News Pilipinas, founder Brian Batugo described LMDC as “a coalition of various community organizations and dancers passionate about making connections to the cultures of the Philippines through dance and music.”

Batugo also said the greatest challenge they face is funding because “a dedicated space, authentic folk and indigenous attire from the Philippines, and instruments are very costly.”

“Presently, our community space and budget for daily operations exists only through generosity of donors who have become Friends of Little Manila,” he added.  

LMDC continues to perform for church organizations and family, community and school events. Batugo shared that by 2016 they are planning to expand their Youth and Adult Program to include a Kulintang music program with Master Danny Kalanduyan in the lead.

They also plan to welcome more members of their community who are greatly interested in taking folk and indigenous dance class.

Brian Batugo and the Little Manila Dance Collective will be performing in a cultural presentation on August 8 at Stockton’s 42nd Annual Barrio Fiesta which also serves as a celebration for their first year in action.

Batugo encourages everyone to support LMDC in preserving the Filipino folk dance and culture in Stockton. “Supporting the efforts of the Little Manila Dance Collective will establish a central space where the community’s youth and elders can connect to the art practices and cultural knowledge that exists beyond our city. In order to sustain this program for generations to come, I urge the Filipino community to donate and support a dance space where people can properly train and learn about folk and indigenous dance forms so that we may be able to represent our Pinoy and Pinay identity through respectful and authentic cultural art in Stockton.”

Donations to the Little Manila Dance Collective can be processed through littlemanila.org.

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