PH embassy in Russia promotes cultural dialogue with Russian students
A minute-long video post on the Facebook page of the Philippine Embassy in Moscow showing Russian university students dancing the tinikling has gone viral, climbing to almost a million views, with over 50,000 reactions and 5,000 shares.
“This is certainly the most viral original content of the embassy since we joined socmed, and is probably the most wide-reaching socmed post of any Philippine Foreign Service Post for that matter,” said Philippine Ambassador to Russia Igor Bailen.
According to Ambassador Bailen, the video emanated from the Philippine Independence Day festivities at the embassy, the first such community fellowship since 2019 owing to the pandemic. With face masks and other safety protocols lifted in Moscow, about a thousand, including many Russian friends, attended the day-long celebration of Filipino culture, cuisine, and camaraderie.
The Russian dancers are college students from prestigious Moscow Lomonosov State University, and some of them major in Philippine studies.
Ambassador Bailen revealed that their performance was not even originally in the program. “Sometime in May, my embassy colleagues excitedly sent me a clip of their performance at their school, and I thought to myself, it would be a sin not to share this very beautiful dialogue of cultures with a larger audience. The first in-person June 12 celebrations at the embassy in three years was coming up, and it was the perfect stage and occasion to share what these Russian students were learning,” he says. “And thanks to the reach of socmed, we can even share this gift with a worldwide audience. The positive and good vibes response has been overwhelming and very encouraging. Maybe next year, they can even dance the singkil.”
Ambassador Bailen credits Filipino community volunteers Josil Baladad and Emelda Jeresano, who spent many Sundays training the students at the embassy. They also led and choreographed many of the dance numbers at the Independence Day celebration.
Tinikling is arguably the most famous Philippine traditional folk dance, with at least two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other while one or more dancers hop, jump, and turn over them, avoiding getting caught and injured between the poles. It is usually accompanied by rondalla music, a sort of serenade by an ensemble of stringed instruments. The dance originated in Leyte in the Visayas, taking its name from tikling birds of the rail species as they move along grass and trees and deftly avoid bamboo traps set by farmers. Dancers imitate the birds’ grace, speed, and skill.
‘There should be no dominant or minority cultures, because when one culture or even language disappears, it impoverishes all of humanity.’
“There should be no dominant or minority cultures, because when one culture or even language disappears, it impoverishes all of humanity,” says Ambassador Bailen. “In this age of globalization, when new technologies could threaten lesser-known cultural traditions and even homogenize world culture, the Philippine embassy is very serious about promoting the beauty and diversity of all the world’s cultures, especially Philippine culture—our Russian friends are beginning to see that and, more important, Filipinos in the Philippines and all over the world are realizing more than ever before that our culture is rich, diverse, beautiful, and essential and can be at par with the very best in the world. Especially at this time, the dialogue of cultures is very important. Thanks to socmed for that!”