In Filipino Culture, dance plays an important role. From ritualistic tribal dances like Banga and Singkil to Spanish-influenced folk dances like Pandanggo sa Ilaw and Cariñosa, dance has long been a way of expressing spirituality, courtship, and coming together as a community.
For 30 years, Sol Ramel, founder of Filipino Image Society (FIS), has been choreographing Filipino folk and modern dances here in Hong Kong.
“Mula 1993, sa dami ng aming mga napunatahan na mga events and concerts, hindi ko mabilang kung naka ilang performance na kami” (From 1993, we have been to so many events and concerts, I can’t count the number of performances we have done since then), Sol shares. FIS is often tapped to take part in a wide range of cultural events hosted by local Hong Kong organisations, Filipino community groups, and even the Philippine Consulate.
(If dancers have been performing for a long time, they build self-confidence)
- Sol Ramel, founder of Filipino Image Society
Over the years, Sol and her group have performed alongside numerous famous Filipino celebrities like Sharon Cuneta, Tina Paner, Manilyn Reynes, Bert Mercado, and Sarah Geronimo, amongst many others. But has she ever felt nervous dancing in front of people? “Kapag mga dancers na matagal nang sumasayaw sa stage, may self-confidence na sila. Kapag malalaking events, we see to it na mahabang panahon ang pagrerehearsal namin. Dito medyo ninenerbyos nang konti at kailangan sige lang ang practice.” (If the dancers have been performing for a long time, they build self-confidence. If we have to perform for a big event, we see to it that we give plenty of time for rehearsals. This is where we have a bit of jitters and we need to keep practising).
Dancing is not the only focus of FIS; helping the less fortunate in the Philippines has been at the heart of their group since the beginning. Their social work initiatives over the years have included organisation of food drives, fun events for the elderly and disabled children, helping domestic workers in distress, and more recently, distribution of COVID-19 protective gear, to name but a few.
Whenever Sol goes back to the Philippines, one of the best parts of her trip is visiting a home for children with disabilities and mental health conditions, which FIS has worked with over the years. “Kapag makita na ako ng mga bata, nako sobrang tuwa nila. Yayakapin nila ako at makikita mo sa kanilang mga ngiti at mukha ang kanilang tuwa,” (When the children see me, their happiness is evident. They hug me and you can see the excitement in their smiles and faces), Sol says with a smile. She adds, “Sarap ng pakiramdam at nakakagalak sa kalooban ko kapag nakikita kong nag-eenjoy ang mga bata.” (It feels really good and brings joy to my heart when I see the children enjoying themselves).
The goals of Filipino Image Society remain unchanged; they have found the perfect balance between helping oneself and helping others. As for how Sol keeps the positivity alive in her life, she muses, “You will not be able to please everyone, so respect the people around you, even if they think differently than you. Surround yourself with people who love you and believe in yourself. You can do anything, konting tiyaga lang!” (you just need a little perseverance!).