Philippines typhoon survivors to perform at Chingay Parade 2019

The young survivors of Typhoon Haiyan will be performing a traditional Filipino war dance known as the Dance of the Pintados, to demonstrate how they rose above the tragedy to come out stronger. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
A performer from the Vietnamese contingent at the Chingay parade media preview on Feb 14, 2019. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Performers from the Chinese contingent at the Chingay parade media preview on Feb 14, 2019. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Performers from the Cambodian contingent at the Chingay parade media preview on Feb 14, 2019. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - A dance troupe comprising young survivors of a devastating typhoon which hit the Philippines in November 2013 will be performing at this year's Chingay parade.

The 100 dancers, aged between 14 and 25, are from different municipalities in the Visayas group of islands.

The region was hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan, which claimed more than 6,000 lives and destroyed more than a million homes.

Mr Jan Kairel Guillermo told The Straits Times on Thursday (Feb 14) the troupe will be performing a traditional Filipino war dance known as the Dance of the Pintados, to demonstrate how they rose above the tragedy to come out stronger.

"People may say that we have already lost everything but our dance shows them it is actually just the start of everything," added the 25-year-old artistic director of the group known as Leyteam.

Mr Guillermo is from the island of Leyte, where 90 per cent of its Tacloban City town was destroyed.

Leyteam is among 10 foreign troupes performing at this year's Chingay Parade, with other groups hailing from countries such as Cambodia, South Korea, Indonesia and China.

Performers from the South Korean contingent at the Chingay parade media preview on Feb 14, 2019. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The main parade will feature 6,500 performers from over 50 local and foreign parade contingents. Parade 1 is on Feb 15 and Parade 2 on Feb 16.

Mr Guillermo, who was part of the production crew of Chingay 2018, had reached out to the organising committee to have his team of dancers perform at this year's parade.

The committee was impressed by the fighting spirit of the young survivors and decided to include them, said Mr Julian Aw, director of the Singapore Chingay and Events Network.

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Mr Marco Paolo Chumacara, one of the Leyteam dancers, said: "The dance reminds us that we are a strong people. A warrior people."

The 24-year-old added that the performance is also a show of appreciation.

"We are also using this dance to thank the people of Singapore who helped us with donations to rebuild (our lives)," said Mr Chumacara.

The Singapore Red Cross had raised more than $10 million for victims of Typhoon Haiyan by February 2014.

The energetic dance ends with all 100 performers yelling "Thank you Singapore".

The performance also commemorates 50 years of Singapore-Philippines bilateral relations, and is symbolic of the friendship between the two nations.

The Chingay Parade this year coincides with the Singapore Bicentennial, commemorating the 200th anniversary of Sir Stamford Raffles' landing in Singapore in 1819.

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