Bayanihan Folk Arts Center
The Bayanihan Folk Arts Center is an institution dedicated to promoting Filipino culture, particularly traditional folk dances and ethnic rituals. It was established in 1957 by Helena Z. Benitez. The world renowned Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company is a subsidiary of this institution.
The Bayanihan Folk Arts Center and the Bayanihan Dance Company stemmed from the Filipiniana Folk Music and Dance Committee which was housed by Philippine Women's University (PWU). It was by Benitez' hand that the institution was founded in 1957.
Benitez meant to undertake PWU's zeal for collecting and researching dances and rituals that originated from the different ethnic groups of the Philippines. The task of recording early Filipino literature as expressed in dance and song was appointed to the Bayanihan Folk Arts Center. The Center was held responsible for studying the many rituals of the indigenous peoples, the animists and the people of Mindanao.
At the same time, the Bayanihan Folk Arts Center, and the subsidiary Bayanihan Dance Company, was charged with the promotion of these cultural materials.
The word bayanihan stems from the root word bayan which is a Tagalog word meaning 'community'. Bayanihan is a term that refers to the act of people coming together to work towards a common goal. The act of preserving culture by undertaking the arduous task of collecting traditional songs and dances is indeed an endeavor that requires bayanihan.
In 1958, the Philippine government called for cultural programs and organizations that could represent the country in Brussels, Belgium at the 1958 World's Fair. The World's Fair is the name given to a public exhibition hosted by different countries. Governments from all around the world prepare a showcase of their nation's culture, as well as their latest technological achievements. The Philippine government saw the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels as an opportunity to present the Philippine's rich cultural heritage to the rest of the world.
At the insistence of then President Ramon Magsaysay, the Bayanihan Dance Company made its debut on the world stage at the 1958 World's Fair. The dance company's showcase was entitled “Glimpses of Philippine Culture through Music and Dance.” It was a hit at the exhibition. The famous American TV program The Ed Sullivan Show even featured the showcase as one of the Fair's highlights.
After its unprecedented success at the World's Fair, the company found that they were much in demand. On 13 October 1959, they performed at the Winter Garden Theater for their Broadway debut. They received even greater recognition from the North American critics. Sol Hurok, the world -famous impresario (an organizer and financier of concerts, plays, and operas), also arranged for the troupe to take part in his yearly International Dance Festival.
Since 1958, the Bayanihan Dance Company has been on 15 international tours and has performed in festivals and exhibitions in 55 countries.
The Bayanihan Folk Arts Center and the Bayanihan Dance Company received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding in 1965. In 2000, Bayanihan was officially proclaimed as the National Folk Dance Company of the Philippines.
- World's Fair. Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. (Accessed on 17 June 2010).
- Bayanihan: A National Treasure. Columbia Artists Management, Inc. (Accessed on 17 June 2010).
-  Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. (Accessed on 17 June 2010).