Video courtesy of Dencio Natividad / In Dencio’s Eyes
Now, let’s proceed to the dances performed during the talent show:
- Understandably, Fisher Mall has a safety policy that affects one or perhaps two performers as they cannot light fires on their props. This is especially evident with Cebu City (Carlos Ching) as remember his hashtag is #TheFireDancerfromCebu. Those objects he was swinging about with a rope were supposed to be lit, and you sense it could’ve been more impactful if there were flames, but still his skill in moving them about and making formations (I momentarily mistook them for yo-yos) is commendable.
- I’m not sure if the two sticks that Bulacan (Paolo Caballero) was brandishing were also meant to be lit. It seems to be a conceptual tribal dance piece with a narrative, though I couldn’t follow if it was a tragedy lamenting the death of a child (the prop baby in question) or a celebratory offering to the gods for said baby’s birth. His stoic expression as he danced just left me scratching if I’m supposed to feel happy or sad during his performance. Or maybe it’s meant to be enigmatic and ambiguous–something to think about and perhaps inspire debate…
- Floridablanca, Pampanga (Patrick Magtanong) brought two backup dancers for his hip-hop number, and delivered some fly moves to a medley of tunes including Fifth Harmony’s biggest smash to date, “Worth It”.
- Iloilo City (Willan Pagayon) proved that a ribbon routine can be a masculine thing with his highly energetic performance.
- For something more cultural, we are treated to a Muslim-inspired folk dance with prop bolo from Candelaria, Quezon (Mark Lester Latina).
- )Tarlac Province (Church Hill Garcia) delivered on his hashtag #TheHipHopDancerfromTarlac with his slick hip-hop moves, set to a Drake track.
- Actually, Fil. Comm. of Great Britain (Jules Chan) sang Skrillex & Diplo (featuring Justin Bieber)’s hit song “Where R U Now”, and he was expectedly good with both his singing and animation-style hip-hop dancing (remember he’s a theatre performer back in the UK), but well, his dancing was the more memorable element that is why I placed him in this category.
- Fil. Comm. of Melbourne (Daniel Polbrat) was one of the biggest crowd pleasers as he gyrated to a medley of three songs, starting with Ginuwine’s “Pony” (revived thanks to the film Magic Mike) and closing with Silento’s “Watch Me (Whip / Nae Nae)”.
Now let’s discuss the five performances that the judges that afternoon deemed as the best. I agreed with four of the five choices. I’ll get the slight negativity out of the way by tackling the performance I’m not that into:
Angono, Rizal is a town that is reputedly renowned for its artists, and, well, this contest’s representative, Robert Lopez delivered what can be described as a “performance art” piece. He started out by drawing a sketch, but you wonder why he was in Igorot garb. After he made the sketch of a woman’s face, he then did a tribal dance, showcased a picture of a heart juxtaposed with his own drawing, then flipped upside down to reveal his backside has a drawing of a cartoon face, all set to a rendition of an OPM chestnut that if I’m not mistaken, was originally popularized by Rico J. Puno, “May Bukas Pa“.* All I could think of when I watched the whole thing was, “WTH?” It was probably some universal message of love and peace, but all those elements just do not make any sense to me and in my opinion they don’t really gel together well. I would prefer this slot be awarded to Daniel Polbrat, Karan Singhdole, Jules Chan, Jake Camarines, or Reniel Villareal.
* On a personal note, I associate that song with my brother’s death, as my father said he likes to play that song to help him cope with his grief over our tragedy.
Fil. Comm. of Germany (Siegfried Schmidt) also showcased his drawing talent, and combined it by singing a song, Freddie Aguilar’s folk-pop classic “Bulag, Pipi, at Bingi”. His tone was steadily reedy and lilting, and adding to the charm of this performance was he opened with a brief and sincere spiel in Tagalog. Technically, Karan and Marcel (and some fans might argue and add Arcel in this mix) displayed stronger vocal prowess, and the illustrations delivered by AR, JM, and yes, even Robert were more polished compared to the raw drawing of Jesus Christ that he delivered at the end of his song, but Siegfried deserved to be rewarded with the degree of difficulty combining two skills into one, and the overall charm of the performance.
Olongapo City (Earlmond Ross Lee) has been defined by his violin skills, and he showcased it with full aplomb in this show, performing an instrumental cover of Fall Out Boy’s hit “Centuries”. I find no fault with the performance, and he exhibited swagger where on other occasions it seemed to be in short supply. Definitely one of his finest moments.
Makati City (Jazzie Magne Vasquez) performed a hip-hop dance number, and he delivered some slinky slick moves, but what sets his performance apart from the other strong hip-hop dance performances was that he framed it with a comedic (with a dash of poignant, if you reflect on the concept) twist, making it a story of a brittle old man who in a flight of fancy broke out into a dancing reverie, until he snapped back into reality. It was one of the most memorable performances that afternoon, and worthy of being shortlisted.
For many in the audience (including myself), the best and most fully realized routine was the tribal warrior dance performed by Tacloban City (Rick Kristoffer Palencia). It had ferocity, energy, skill (with those splits that then transitioned into fleet feet flickerings), artistry, and commitment. With his buffed physique also in full display here, it is also sexy. Considering that earlier in the week he was also short-listed in the beachwear competition back in Davao, it makes for a delicious prospect that he can top two fast-track competitions–will they make him concede one, and which of them will be conceded to make way for a worthy candidate?
Though talent normally is not a gauge of a contestant’s overall prospects of winning a pageant (unless it’s integrated in the scoring like in the case of Miss America and the current system employed by Miss World), this event clearly cemented Rick Palencia’s status as the man to beat in this contest. Can the other candidates catch up with him as the competition wears on? Keep your eyes peeled, and enjoy the ride…