by Dennis Infante
Before you go on to the article, I just want to give a little background on what you are about to read. A few months ago Nu-Origin Dance Crew (the crew I dance with) were at practice one day and felt like we were in need of something new. We felt we’ve had our share of showcases, competitions, etc. We asked ourselves where we wanted to be. All we knew is that wanted to do something different, something with purpose. So we decided to plan an outreach dance project for the youth in the Philippines, this project was called Journey 2 Origin. Our goal was to restore hope and inspiration to a talented community who are often forgotten and continuously pressed with issues such as poverty, child labor, and prostitution. We wanted the project to become more than just an annual trip but to also institutionalize a positive program that can very well bring growth, faith, and opportunity to the youth through dance. We did everything we could to raise funds. We asked our friends and families for sponsorships, we even threw a very successful dance showcase which had the support from many dance crews (God Bless you all!). We were able to raise funds, but in the end a lot still came out of all our own pockets. It didn’t matter to us, we knew it would all be worth it to give back out there to our homeland. It was such a dope experience. We just had no clue that this project would change our lives forever..
Yo! I’m finally back and good to be home from the Philippines! There comes a time in your life when you go some place far from home and you come back a different person. For me, this trip was definitely it. Just seeing the Philippines again, you realize that a lot of us Filipino Americans are very lucky to be here in the U.S. There are a lot of things we take for granted, from the little things like drinking water, to having a job, to family, and even a roof over your head. Besides Manila, we were also able to hit up Boracay to experience the white sand beaches, Tagaytay next to the Taal Volcano, Baywalk area and all that good stuff. But seeing everything first hand, it hits you that people may not have much out there, but they really make the best of what the things they do have and they are still very happy. It was a very humbling experience. I was able to see family I haven’t seen in years, or just met for the first time. I even saw my best friend that I haven’t seen since 9th grade before he moved out to PI. Got in touch with some history and roots of my people and my culture. From being at the actual Fort where Jose Rizal was held before his execution, to hearing stories from my uncle about how they had to hide up in the mountains away from the Japanese during the war back then. I still can’t comprehend how dope of an experience this trip was. We (Nu-Origin) also were able to fulfill our mission of teaching dance to the youth out there.
Our mission to teach the free dance workshops for the kids was a HUGE success. ABS-CBN Foundation out there works with youth and set up some workshops for us. We taught at Eulogio Rodriguez Elementary in Mandaluyong twice and we also taught at a youth center for abused/battered children. The first workshop we taught at the Elementary school was insane. We had no idea what to expect, all we knew was that we would be teaching about 100 kids at that time, grades 1-6. Upon arriving at the school, all the kids were at their outdoor quad area giving us a warm welcome. All lined up with streamers, signs saying welcome to our school, all of them smiling, cheering, and waving. It was suppose to rain that day, but the sun rays were beaming down from the clouds and it felt like something straight out of a movie. God’s presence was definitely felt. We were all just overwhelmed to see all of that . When we first saw them, we all practically started ballin. I tried my best to hold it in at first, but once I saw Joey and the others cryin, I just let it out. Even during our performance, hearing their reactions, seeing their faces, still made us teary when we were dancing.
It was crazy. As soon as we finished performing we had to break up into groups and head inside the multi-purpose room, the rain started pourin. We broke up the 100 kids into about 4 or 5 groups and taught different styles to them. From Hip-Hop, to Locking, and Bboying. Teaching dance in tagalog was a real challenge, but the kids would even help us with our tagalog, it was a lot of fun, because at the same time that we were teaching them, they were also schoolin us on our native tongue. All of the kids were really into learning everything. They remembered all the names of the stuff we were teaching and all that. Even when learning the counts, they would count loud along with us, and at the end of the set they would all yell, “YAYYYY!!!”. At the end of our group workshops, we had all our groups perform what they learned for each other on stage. That was a lot of fun. The kids even freestyled and battled each other, apparently the in thing over there is harlem shakin and cwalkin. hahah trippy huh? They really soak in what they see on TV, so it felt good to teach them something they’re not used to seeing. One of the kids in my group was really eager to learn more locking too even after the lessons were done. We also had them do a short talent show. Some of the kids sang, and even RAPPED! They were really talented. After they performed for each other we said our closing statements on the importance of education and that they should always hold on to their talents that God has given them and use them for good.
In the end, we gave them bags and bags of candy for their hard work. The ride back to the hotel was really quiet. For me I was quiet because there was that sense of satisfaction I felt that I might’ve been making some type of positive influence in their lives. They’re all at that age when they are influenced the most. It was really fulfilling, I felt like my soul was cleansed, and nothing else mattered but those kids. I felt very lucky to have felt that experience working with them. Nothing we’ve done in the past 8 years of dancing as a group can top that feeling. Not opening for BEP, Rahzel, winning competitions, countless performances, trophies, getting paid, popularity, traveling, etc. All that can’t even touch what we felt that time. It felt really good to give back, especially giving back to our homeland. We were very lucky and blessed to be given that opportunity to make a difference. I’m sure the other fellas felt exactly the same way I did.
Aside from teaching the kids, we were able to check out the nightlife as well. Spots in Quezon City, Malate, and Greenbelt, but most of the time we were at this spot called The Fort. It had two diff. clubs that we were at majority of the stay there. The music was ok, mostly mainstream stuff though. We haven’t found any dope house clubs. Although we found a spot called Havana that plays live latin jazz and cuban stuff, it was pretty dope, for me atleast. Luckily we were able to catch DJ Apollo at Club Embassy, where we also met local Bboys and Dancers. We got called out, and it was a very very fun session. Like a clash of two styles. Their bboys were dope, mostly power, blow-ups, and freezes. The freestylers were mostly into shakin related type stuff, it was pretty hype. It was cool though, we made some really good friends with this crew All-Stars, who will be representing the PI in the 2005 Hip Hop World Crew Championships.
We got to perform on this show called Club TV, it’s kinda like an MTV’s Grind type thing or Soultrainish or whatever. We didn’t get to do our own individual set, but we just had to dance back-up for one of the hosts, Laura Jean Cruz. We were at the set shooting till 3am, but it was still a fun experience. We also performed at Glorietta Mall in Makati for Gold Gym’s fitness competition. It was our first time seeing All-Stars perform a routine, they had a dope routine, and I know they would do well in LA for the competition (they got 6th overall out of 26th international crews, I’m soo proud of em!!). I see them as the pioneers of a dope dance scene that is yet to explode, if anyone is gonna pull it off there, I know it will be the All-Stars. The routine that we did there was basically a medley of all our old stuff, that was more crowd friendly. We also performed at this club called Prince of Jaipur, it was dope too because we ran into local homie DJ Skratchmark who was already DJing there for quite some time. So when we would hit it up, he played some underground and old school joints for us, even some house! Thank God. hahah. We used our newer routine at Jaipur just to be able to show what we do with acid jazz, funk, and house. It felt good to show them something different. Nobody there is really up on any other dance styles as much, except bboying. Mostly Hip-Hop and routines. There was one member from All-Stars who did funk styles though, he was coo.
Basically the awareness of Hip-Hop culture is still in it’s very early stages out there in PI, but it is there stirring. Only a few number of heads really know about the diff elements and foundation and all, and those heads are really trying to jumpstart the movement. But it’s hard right now. Media out there (much like our media out here) isn’t really too welcoming of the real stuff to be shown on tv, only what is popular or what not. One of our friends Joel (Jo-Ill from SF) also threw an open mic event out there, and there were these two kids, probably 7 or 8 yrs old called Team Katipunan. Little emcees rapping in TAGALOG!!! Someone was beatboxin for them, and they were dope. They didn’t deliver a simple rhyming style either, they were really using the syllables in tagalog to hit the beats. It was straight raw! There’s a lot of talent out there in the Philippines, it makes you feel proud to be pinoy.
Other than that, our mission was accomplished and we reached a total of about 1000 kids. We definitely are looking to make this a yearly project, to go to different locations in the Philippines to teach dance to the youth. We’ll have clips and pictures on our website soon, go to www.nu-origin.com and check back frequently. We’ll have some stuff up sooner or later. Thanks to all the beautiful people we met and worked with in the PI, also to our managers DMR for EVERYTHING, Aileen for doin the DVD for us hope you had a fun bday, all the friends, families, sponsors, dance crews out here for all your support since the birth of this project. This trip is something that I’ll definitely never forget…God Bless
Nu-Origin Dance Crew
Things I missed about the US when we got to PI:
-The food portions (damn in PI they’re all freakin small. I needed to order 2 plates just to be full, but hmmm, i usually do that here too so i dunno if I was just hungrier or what lol)
-My family =(
-TV shows like Conan O’Brien, Simpsons, Family Guy, 70s show, Fresh Prince re-runs, etc (there wasn’t SHIT to watch out there)
-My Turntables and Records (I felt naked without my music)
-U.S. Dollars (f*ck it’s crazy trying to figure out how much things are when the currency rate is 54 to a dollar. It’s freakin confusing just trying to figure out how much tip is and sh*t)
-The clubs (there weren’t too many clubs that played non radio music. Another thing is that people smoked cigarettes inside the clubs! yuck! I couldnt’ stand it after awhile, I got sick)
-The weather (damn I thought summer in Cali was hot, but sheesh PI was like a sauna)
-Jamba Juice (all that heat, and no Jamba?!)
-Walmart (I missed the 24 hr. shopping convenience haha)
Things I’ll miss about the PI after coming home:
-Pricing: (Everything is so cheap out there. I got a haircut for like $1.50, and it included a massage and shampooing hahah. O yeah, not to mention Redhorse beer is like $1. YESSSS)
-Oakwood Hotel at Ayala Center (That shit was off the hook. Super Hospitable, and all the girls that worked there were cute, and there must’ve been someone for every 20 ft. to greet you “hello sir, good morning sir, how are you sir?” hahah)
-My family/friends (It was good to see everyone again after all those years)
-The kids we taught (I’ll miss those little brats jk haha)
-The Malls/Shopping Areas (One word: HUGE)
-Boracay (Yo, the beach was dope over there. the water was clean, the sand was powdery)
-The people (everyone there is really polite, except the snatchers that is hehe)
-Balot (hahah if you don’t know, go watch fear factor)
-Air Force One (hahah even though we didn’t get a chance to hit it up, just the thought of that place still lingers in my head)
-24 hr Fast Food Delivery (Mcdonalds and Jollibee straight up delivers to your home! haha)