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Passion aflame

Messy hair, fidgety hands, sweat all over—all results of nervousness and feverish haste.

I arrive at the studio wearing black leggings reaching below the knee, a colored jacket and white rubber shoes. And yes, I am late. It turns out everybody’s done so I am the last one to audition. A girl gives me the No. 12 card and I pin it on myself. My heart flutters, my knees twitch. There’s no turning back. Music up, and I begin to perform.

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It has been said that each one of us is unique and that we all have talents. There are people gifted with nightingale voices. Some are skilled in sketching or painting. Others have intellectual brilliancy. Yet others are really good in photography. Me? Well, I suck at math. I do not do any sport. I am clumsy, unorganized, forgetful… The list goes on. In fact, I can screw up everything in a single move. But with all these less than desirable traits, I know I can be something when it comes to one thing: dancing.

The Hublag Dance Company is the performing group of the University of the Philippines Visayas. Its members get to learn rudimentary ballet lessons. We touch the genres of contemporary dance, jazz and hip hop. In Hublag, we aspire to become not only dancers but also performers by heart and art. These are made possible with the backing of our adviser, Bobby Rodriguez.

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I joined Hublag because there’s a fire in me to keep dancing. When I was in high school I was into folk dancing. I also became a majorette. I have joined hip hop and dance sport competitions (modern, standard). I have done interpretive dances, too. All of these experiences have brought good results, which is why I consider that I can dance.

Passion: It is something you cannot do without. For a medical student, passion means maintaining forbearance through the many years of study. For a journalist, passion is the drive to deliver the news despite the risks and challenges along the way. For a Hublag member and a student as well, passion is dedication, the balancing of everything, and staying committed to the dance company.

I found that being a member of Hublag is tough yet gratifying. We prepared for months for a 45-minute concert. We stayed up late conceptualizing and learning dance routines. We were constantly sleep-deprived because we got home late and still needed to work on school assignments and related stuff. But the cool part was, we got to do what we love doing together with other people who are driven by the same passion. So, yes. I gained friends. I burned calories. I found a family.

On Jan. 19, 2014, the dance company was invited to perform at an event in Guimaras. I was so excited that I actually went to Iloilo City a day before we were to leave for the performance. I stayed at my aunt’s house.

When I woke up in the morning I could barely move the lower part of my body. I stretched, and it hurt so badly. I immediately phoned my mom to tell her what was happening. My aunt entered the room, saw me in pain, and gave me an analgesic. I took it, hoping it would ease my agony in time for me to leave with the other members of Hublag. At that moment, I remembered my father’s suffering every time his arthritis acted up. He couldn’t even leave his bed. I closed my eyes in prayer.

Later I got to my feet. I found that I was able to stand up, but taking even one small step was impossible. I sent a text message to Anna, our senior dancer, that I wouldn’t be able to make it to Guimaras.

Since then I have undergone medical checkups and laboratory examinations in the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod. I was told that the severe pain I am feeling in my knees, elbows, wrists and feet is caused by tendonitis. My doctor advised me to take time to rest. I filed for sick leave from Hublag. I remember trying to hold back my tears as I did so, but it was like chopping 50 onions—that feeling you get when the only thing you’re good at is taken away from you.

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It has been more than a year now and I just miss everything. I miss the pain during rehearsals. I miss the way the floor creaked under all our jumps and turns. I miss our boisterous laughter, our sweat pouring in buckets, our jostling for space before the electric fan. I miss our random selfies and photo shoots everywhere. I miss our fun conversations as we rode the tricycle home at night, our delightful dinners after the tiring practice sessions, those “knock knock” battles and corny jokes. Our hands all in a pack of chips. The dance camps. The bonding. The friendship.

I am constantly contradicted, but I believe there is such thing as forever. My love for dancing is forever. And one thing is certain: I want to be active in dance again. I will always have faith that one day I will be fully healed, my passion aflame.

Cristel Maureen Mandal, 19, is taking communication and media studies at the University of the Philippines Visayas (Miagao).

Stories from the young Filipino

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TAGS: Dancing, Hublag Dance Company, Passion, talent, University of the Philippines Visayas
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