And I Wander

The birds chirp at this side of the world. :)


My Immersion into the History & Culture of Hip Hop…


July 8, 2009

I just received the agenda for the Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Dance program and I’m . (dot) . (dot) . (dot) .


But inside I’m a blissful wreck. 😀

This is so exciting! Me & 6 other emerging artists from different countries will travel to New York, Philadelphia & Washington and…

“Hip-Hop Dance – July 2009

Participants in this program will work with renowned hip-hop dancers, exploring the history of hip-hop culture and dance in the United States. Participants will attend the International Illadelph Legends Festival (Philadelphia, PA) sponsored by Rennie Harris Puremovement. Illadelph takes place over 14 days in July and includes master classes in hip-hop dance, lectures, and demonstrations. This program will take place in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, PA during July 2009.”

All I can say is I am just so thankful for this opportunity. I didn’t think I deserved this coz there are a lot of much younger, stronger dancers out there. But as Lema said, this is a gift for me coz I had to stop dancing (coz I was pregnant) though I didn’t want to.

This program was initially offered to Lema & Sheena by the US Embassy Cultural Affairs Department coz they have worked with them for their outreach program, Hip Hop for Life, where they teamed up with Joel & Rick of Havikoro (from Texas) & held dance workshops for kids of poor families in Davao & Manila. But then Lema was pregnant & Sheena had to train for this year’s World Championships (yeah, rep up the girls Sheens!), so Lema recommended me… And there you go. 🙂 Thank you Mama Lems! *mwah*

I’m really so excited not only because I will finally get to travel to one of my dream cities, New York, but also, I will get to immerse myself in the genre that I deny myself of sinking into which is Hip Hop.  Coz I always thought of myself as a Rakista, in thought, in fashion & in music. I would always think that I just dance hip hop & that’s it. I don’t even talk the talk or walk the walk once I get out of the dance studio or the stage.

But then, here it is, beckoning me to get to know it. It is not enough that I dance it. I have to observe, absorb & learn the foundation, it’s roots. Coz this will ultimately make me a better hip hop dance artist.

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July 14, 2009

I’m in the Big Apple.

NY has been one of my dream places to live in. You know, like what we see in the movies, pursuing dance and working at the side. Coz everything is here. The roots, the techniques, the passion. Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Broadway, Fred Astaire, Full Circle, the Bronx, etc. But at the same time, I am kinda scared of this city coz people are known to be competitive, no-nonsense & highly skillful. So just stepping on the streets of Manhattan is just like a dream come true already… But I’ll know as the days go by if that is true. ;)

We were given a room each, so for a week, I will get the taste of how it is to live here. I am so glad that they chose this hotel coz it’s just a couple of blocks away from Central Park! And everything else is just a walk away. It’s not that I don’t want to take a cab or try subway, but I love walking. And this is the perfect place to do just that. :)

Love my room.

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I met one of the participants already, Hien from Vietnam, coz we were in the same flight. We were received by the Vietnamese interpreter, Le-Thu (as in see yah LAY-TUH! :) ). She is so nice & so warm that I thought she was a Filipina. But she’s a Vietnamese who works for the State Department. For the first time, I experienced how it is to be in the company of people whose language I do not entirely understand. I know now how Nikki (from Norway) or Katja (Australia) feels whenever they are around us & we speak purong Tagalog. Coz Le-Thu & Hien spoke in their language throughout our ride from the JFK Airport to our Hotel. I was seated between them, & as they exchanged unfamiliar words, I got dizzy trying to even look for root words that I could decipher hahaha! I noticed that they repeat some words like uh-uh-uh & hang-hang-hang. It sounded funny. I ask myself, do we sound funny too if like we just blurt out, “Bababa ba?” (Do we go down?) Imagine a syllable repeated 4x that means something! Ha-ha!

I spent the remaining day settling down. We do not have complimentary breakfast in the hotel so I went to the pharmacy across the street to buy microwavable food. I have my own kitchen so maybe tomorrow I’ll cook. :)


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July 14, 2009

Today we went to a bank in New Jersey to encash our checks. Then we had an orientation with Mr. Ramien of the Kennedy Center at the Ripley-Grier Studios. Then the rest of the day was spent on our own.

I met the other participants, Samer from Palestine, Silvia & Mauricio from Argentina, and Hassan from Lebanon. During the meeting, we were all noisy coz there were 3 interpreters in the group (Arabic, Spanish & Vietnamese), and every time something was announced, there would be 3 people speaking at the same time. But it was fun hanging out with them coz everyone was just so open to each other’s culture & language. The 2 Argentinians even taught us a song in Spanish (something like, Driver hurry up your motor coz it’s getting hot in here). :D

From the Studio, I walked with Ms Jill Ross all the way back to the hotel (37th to 57th St). We passed by the famous Times Square. It was really a hotspot for tourists. There were a lot of people lounging around, moving advertisements, huge billboards. I really felt that I was in New York! :)

day 1
Just before dusk, I went to Central Park.


* I was like this for a long time. Spaced-out. *

Oh. I really love it here.

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July 15, 2009

We went on a Harlem Hip-Hop Walking Tour. We took a subway from 57th to the Museum of New York where we were gathered with 50 other people for the Hush Hip Hop Tour.

It was interesting to walk through the mecca of black culture & hearing the history of hip hop through one of the legendary hip hop figures, Rahiem of the Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five–the first hip hop artists to get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. I’ve only read parts of the hip hop history in the internet & it was amazing to experience Harlem & its contribution to hip hop. We passed by some landmarks like:

The Graham court, built in 1901, commissioned by Waldorf Astor, the most luxurious apartment in Harlem, also the setting of some Hollywood movies.

The Graham court

We also checked out the Graffiti Wall of Fame at Park Ave. & E 106 St. which was founded by Ray Rodriguez aka Sting Ray in 1980. Presently, a part of it features the art of Tats Cru, the same people who make murals of some famous hip hop artists like Tupac, Big L, etc.

Graffiti Wall of Fame

We went to a park & experienced 2 of the elements of hip hop which are bboyin’ & rappin’. Rahiem spew some rap & bboy Mighty Mouse demonstrated some moves. Hassan, Mauricio & I did some bboyin’ too. :)

We ended the tour in front of the legendary Apollo Theater. Opened in 1914 which was formerly a vaudeville House, some famous people have performed there including Michael Jackson. It is still in operation but it is kinda run down now. Along side it is a wall that became an open space to give tribute to the King of Pop. & in the street, there are a lot of peddlers selling Michael Jackson merchandise.

Apollo Theater

It was soooo tiring but was fun especially that I was able to walk through a neighborhood where 30 or 40 years ago, no other race than black could walk.

In the evening, we went all the way to Queensbridge Park at Queens & watched Sugarhill Gang! Their CityParks Concerts performance was also a celebration of their 30th anniversary.

Sugarhill Gang concert

It was kinda surreal listening to their songs live coz most of their hits I only hear during bboy sessions. After the concert, us six formed a cypher & provided our own entertainment to the crowd.

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July 16, 2009

At the end of our Hip Hop Dance Program, we will be having an hour performance at the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage. An hour show for just the 6 of us. Some of us were frantic about it coz we think that it will be hard pulling that off considering our number & the amount of time we could rehearse, which is na-da. So last night we started planning it. Since most of us were lead choreographers/directors in our own respective groups in our country, there were arguments as to who will do this, who will do what, how many 8’s, what are the music etc. But the hardest part about it all was actually communicating to each other coz of the language barrier. The 2 Argentinians know little English & Sam from Palestine knows like none. He doesn’t even understand English. So that was the hard part. But dance is language in itself, so these people naturally just gave way & just agreed to what Hien (of Vietnam) wanted to do. He naturally become the leader because he is a bit of a big shot director (who choreographs for most of Vietnam’s famous pop stars).

This morning we started rehearsing to Hien & Scorben (Hassan)’s mixed music. In 2 hours, we were able to do a 2-minute routine. Thank God.

After that was the workshop with Kwikstep of Full Circle. I learned a lot from him about bboyin’ & hip hop on a much deeper level. Kwikstep is one of the few bboys that, on the first meeting, I could already see that lives hip hop. He says that hip hop became expressions of people of color back in the time when they were being oppressed. They would take to the streets & move it, or to the wall & paint or mic & rap, etc. These art personified their rage & creativity that was born out of oppression. Today we could see people not just the blacks & the hispanics do hip hop. White, Pinoys, Koreans, you’d see it around the world, thus, he says skill has no color. He said that in cyphers, it is not about the move but the movement of the people you do it for. He taught us how to listen to the beat & dance with it. “It’s not the moves that make you a dancer it’s your spirit.. your soul.”

Orpheum Theater

In the evening, we watched STOMP at the Orpheum Theater. Wow. They made percussions out of mundane objects like brooms, matchboxes, trash bins, Zippo lighters & sink. Yes, as in lababo. Hahaha!I liked the newspaper part the most coz the guy who made a wig out of the newspaper was so funny. & cute hehe! Ang galing ng show! They even made us audience interact. They made us clap some beats & it was difficult! Bow ako sa kanila coz what they do is not easy. They also have ears. I tried doing that alternate clapping 0n the palm, boy was it hard! Ang sakit sa braso! & to think that this guy did it for the whole of his portion.

Today was a lesson of The Beat. & how to follow it. :)

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July 17, 2009

We had another bboy workshop with Kwikstep (& his student Iron Man). He showed us a video of Roberto Roena playing percussions & dancing salsa to it. He’s sick! We were shown 2 videos of him, one when he was younger, & another in his 60s & I was like woah! There was not much difference between the two! Roberto in his 60s showed the same passion & exuberance as that in his younger years. I would really wanna be like that in 30 years. :D

Kwikstep then taught us some basics of uprockin’ & freezes.

DSC01641Then we went to Bronx to attend a jam where DJ Afrika Bambaataa, Kool DJ Red Alert, & DJ Jazzy Jay wuz gonna play. Bronx has a strong resemblance with Tondo or Recto in Manila. Even the atmosphere. But then people are friendly, breaking the misconception that it reeked hostility. One time I was taking a photo of a graffiti of MJ & a latino guy just struck up & convo, “Taking a pic of the King?” He then asked if we were going to the jam coz everyone was just going there.

When we got to the Crotona Park, I smelled hip hop. There right there is hip hop in its raw & pure form. Majority of the people were black so we kind of stood out.



DJ Afrika Bambaataa

Sarap coz bboy music was played by no other than DJ Afrika Bambaataa, one of hip hop’s forefathers! Astig yung experience. Though there was this time when Silvia & Stroban was dancing & a black guy (says his name is Ronnie Raw/Ron from the Dynamic Force, Universal Zulu Nation) approached us & was like “Don’t come out here with your booty shakin’” He then went on to say something like, “You can’t fake hip hop. It is not made, it is not taught. You are born with it. It is in the heart. You breath hip hop. & it is here in Bronx” I told him that hip hop has actually spread around the world, that was why were were there. & he says, “You know how it has spread? You spread it here (points to his heart). For me you can’t fake it. I don’t care where you’re from. You can’t fake hip hop. You’re born with hip hop. Some have it, some don’t.DSC01660 They got school for scratch, they got school for this & that, but hip hop is not an act. It’s from the heart.”


We remember what Kwikstep said about not going in & busting a move anytime or however you want to. You have to go with what the others around are doing. Then when they see you & accept you, that’s when you can do your thing. But I realized that in that park, that works only with the old folks. They were kinda sensitive about not being given respect/homage to. Coz with the younger generation, they are just open. But I dunno, maybe it differs in every place/community.

After some time, a cypher was started & that was when we were able to connect with them through dance. :)

I met Crazy Legs! :) He was giving out flyers for a bboy event at the end of this month. Nakilala ko sha so I asked, “Are you Crazy Legs?” When he said yes, I introduced myself & said I was from the P.I. & he was like, “HOY!!!” Hahaha! I guess he had a lot of Filipino friends.


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July 18, 2009

We had our last session with Kwikstep. Some things I remembered from him: Hip hop was commercialized & that underground hip hop didn’t wanna have to do anything with them. That was why commercially, there are “breakdancers” & underground, there are “bboys/bgirls”. There is hip hop taught in the studios, hip hop done on MTV, but the real hip hop is undaground. But for him, it all doesn’t matter what medium you use, but the intention. It is not the moves but the journey towards the movement. You see a jam, but to fully understand it, you cannot record it with a videocam. You record it with your heart/mind.

There are still a lot I have learned but I realized that Kwikstep & all those people we have met here in New York are what keep the movement going. They are the few ones who protect the roots, spread it to the commercially-influenced youth who would not recognize where this all came from if they see it in their faces. Hats off to them for keeping the movement alive.

Then he taught us again some footworks & how to do them with the beat.

After the class ended, Iron Man (of Souljerz) asked if I was really from the Philippines. I said yes, all the way from the P.I. He said he thought I was from around here the first time he saw me. Now that’s what I’m talking about, ha-ha!

DSC01722Before dusk, under the drizzly weather, we went all the way south to Canal St. & checked out this store, Scrapyard. Canal St. is where they sell all knock-offs of major brands like Rolex, LV, Chanel, RL, etc. Yes, basically like our own Greenhills or Tutuban.

Scrapyard is this little store that sells everything graffiti. I asked if they have some bboy videos & the store owner said that he DSC01724used to have around 50 of them at a time. But now, everything is on youtube that suppliers stopped giving them. Booo for youtube. Kills the movement.

It’s really funny how a lot of people learn things on youtube. Sabi nga ni Kwikstep, these people only learn the moves, but they don’t learn how to dance with their hearts. True. For me, it’s ok to use youtube as a medium of instruction if you want to learn the basics & history of things. But sometimes, a lot of us, especially in our country COPY everything on youtube. Hindi lang nakakagalit, nakakabobo kaya yung ganun! Coz copying fosters mediocrity & laziness, not to mention, nakakabastos sa mga taong naghihirap mag-isip ng orihinal na ideya. And yes, learning through the internet is a lot worse than learning hip hop in the studio. Nagiging technical lang lahat.

But thing is, I cannot blame them coz those people don’t have the resources, the money to go to a school & learn hip hop. They can’t go to New York to immerse in the culture. Even in Scorben’s country, Lebanon, it’s the same. That was why whenever we meet a bboy, he asksssss a lot of questions. As in, sobra kulit nya hahaha! But then, yun na nga, that is where the line should be drawn. When we have all the facts or all the fundamentals already in our minds, we should let the heart come in. That is when we don’t need youtube anymore. All we need is the music & the beat of our own hearts. :)

So anyway, before we left Scrapyard, we met this old man, a graffiti artist who were friends with Mr. Wiggles & Ken Swift. Ha-ha, it’s just surreal how I am surrounded with all these people who are friends with this or friend of that, whose names I only read on the internet. Even though I’ve met some big names already at the HHI, I still get so excited meeting all these people who started this all… and I think I won’t ever get used to it.

By the way, Ironman said Step Up 3 is being filmed here in New York. Silvia & Mauricio has friends who were in it & were actually inviting them to be in it as crowd but couldn’t coz we were too busy. Awwww.

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July 19, 2009

This morning, Silvia, Mauricio & I walked from our hotel at 57th all the way to 45th to attend class at the Broadway Dance Center. DSC01741(Warm-up! :p) Laki ng place. They have 5 or 6 huge studios, and from the receiving area, there are 4 big screens that show live feeds of ongoing classes. Ganda, pero parang ang serious. The atmosphere is a lot like Steps in Pasong Tamo Ext. I was expecting to see that grungy studio featured in the movie Centerstage. Mas masarap yata sumayaw dun. :)

We took Shyrelle’s Adv. Beg. (meaning, in between) class. Parang Nikoboi/Madelle yung style nya. Sarap!

After that Silvia & Mauricio went on to visit their friends, Marco & Martin, the Lombard twins, who are part of the supporting cast of the movie Step Up 3 while I strolled around & tried to find cheap buys.

Before dusk, we went to the Educational Alliance at East Broadway & watched Sneakerbox Jam, a 2-on-2 breakdance competition. Supreme Beings & Dynamic Rockers went head-on in the finals & it was Supreme who got it. Most people thought Dynamics won, but I understood why. One of the bboys in Dynamics was all power & tricks. He got the crowd, yeah. But the judges felt the other side more. I’d have known this, but I have a deeper understanding now. :) ADIDASFULL-1


Step Up 3 shoot

Before the night ended, we stopped by the Grand Central Terminal & checked out the Step Up 3 shoot. Mauricio said they were shooting the scene where the lead girl was gonna go to California, saying goodbye to her friends, thus, the terminal. We couldn’t come near, but during one of the breaks, their friends, the Lombard twins came up to us & I was introduced to them. One of them, Martin, said that he had been in the Philippines 4 years ago for a Louis Vuitton show. Arayt. :)
It was our last night in NY so I left them & went ahead to walk back to the hotel & just smelled the city one last night. Ha-ha, addict!

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July 19, 2009

DSC01922It’s Sunday morning & we are on the train to Philadelphia. Awww, I couldn’t look back & think that I’m leaving New York. :( I just realized that I could see myself living there–if I didn’t have a family. I mean, if I was single & didn’t have a baby. But considering my situation now, I don’t think that would be possible anymore. Everything there is fast-paced. & time is so so so precious. They have what they call lunch hour where they do things in 15 minutes. Plus everything is just so expensive. It’s not really ideal for raising a family… So I am very grateful for this experience where I was given a week to have a taste of being a “New Yorker.” DSC01768:)

I’m actually sad, I’ve gotten sooo into the whole absorption of the hip hop culture that I feel like I am leaving a part of me there. Maybe I am not a consummate non-hiphop after all. Maybe I’ll change my tag now. Coz I realized that I may have been hip hop after all. Hip hop in heart. Its journey is my journey too. Embracing undaground & not losing the whole essence of hip hop is what Allstars is all about. Keeping it real to the heart. Not being too technical. Expressing emotions in its truest form. Standing up for the undadogs. Sharing & spreading the word. Fighting for the movement. That is real hood right there.

Awww I miss Allstars already!

Anyway, good bye New York… nothing but good memories.


I had fun with these people. My brothas & sistahs from anotha motha. Ha-ha!


The crazy things we do in the subway.


New York at daytime.


New York at daytime.


And at night.


With Michael in it.


Or me in it. Ha-ha!


The parking spaces!


And the Haagen Daz in the streets!


And this is for Sheena. Maybe she’ll see you next year. *The Secret*

Farewell, Big Apple!

. . .

Hello Philadelphia! :)

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DAY 8-12

July 20, 2009

This will be a week FULL of classes.


Punong puno, indeed! God has been good to me lately. Well, ever since naman e. He always answers my prayers &, boy, does he go beyond! It’s like I’d ask for a serving of sinigang, and he’d give me adobo, menudo & asado too. Ha-ha sorry for the metaphor coz I’ve been craving pinoy food! Haven’t eaten any decent lutong-bahay for a week. :(

Anyway, I’ll be having a week’s worth of master’s classes from the MASTERS themselves, the pioneers/legends/innovators of hip hop dance. Kung ndi pako gumaling nito, ewan ko na lang. :p This has been what I’ve been wanting to do, learn old school. We used to take classes with Prince. And everytime, sobra nag-eenjoy ako, si Sheena at Chelo. But then, time was an enemy coz it would not permit that in our schedule anymore. So I am just so grateful to be here.

Let’s get it ownnnnn!

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DAY 13

July 25, 2009

It’s Saturday noon & I smile at the day & heave a sigh of relief as I don’t have to get up from bed til 6pm tonight. Sarap. I can still bury myself under the sheets & watch the time pass by.

But my body is soooore. 7 classes a day was too much. But I ain’t complaining. What I got was worth a gem. I got to love lockin’ more, I was formally introduced to house & waaking, I learned at lot more about breakin’, & popping… it hates me haha!

I could have really soaked it all in, though,  if I didn’t strain a muscle on my left foot. :( I think I got it from Marjory’s house class last Monday. So yeah, for the whole week I was really struggling. Even pain killers didn’t help. But it didn’t stop me from taking the classes. Keber na lang kahit lumala.

I loved all the teachers. They were so generous in sharing some nuggets of info about history, even anecdotes about how they were back in the days. It was all mind-opening.

They taught us a lot of techniques which helped us to really dance with the music. But it was important too that we learn where all these moves came from so that we can understand why we do them. Skeeterrabit shared that muscleman was originally his way of saying “hi” back then & that Don Campbell came up with his move coz he couldn’t pull off the Funky Chicken… I noticed that they were all so strongly in touch with the history but they are also very open about dance evolving. It was also interesting how some of them (like Mileage & Buddha Stretch) were so open about dissing “Lyrical Hip Hop.” They said that it is not hip hop. LOL :D Coz you dance to the beat & the melody, not with the lyrics. Dancing to words is just an excuse for teachers who doesn’t really know how to DANCE. Interesting. ;)

Illadelp Legends Festival is in its 10th year. I hope that in the following years, hip hop dancers from the P.I. will get to experience this coz personally, I know that this will help me a lot, not only with my techniques & musicality, but with my outlook in this dance itself. Mas masarap na lalo sumayaw. Parang pagkain na mas masarap kainin kapag nalaman mong pinaghirapan lutuin para sayo… Haha, there I go with food analogy again. :p

Now, my next challenge will be to teach what I have learned. Honestly, I believe that one cannot teach if he/she is still not a master of his/her craft. But just like what they say, we dancers should be ever-evolving. We should forever be students & not get content with what we know. So when can I give classes?… I have been teaching kids & I only do it because I love to teach them! I see myself more of a student. But then this was given to me for a purpose… to share. And I think I’m doing it now, here, so people can read this & learn. Teaching class? I’ll see, I’ll try, I’ll ponder over it. :)

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I got to stroll around (albeit injured foot) Philadelphia. It’s a nice city. The roads are narrow, the structures are very historic & the atmosphere is sooo relaxed. I felt like I was in the province coming from NY. But as I spent more time here, I discovered that Philly is such a cool city that is mixed of both the old & new, historic & modern, laid-back & fun!


They don’t have a lot of billboards which is very nice coz billboards only clutter the grand view of the city. What they have a lot of are murals, of ads, history, art, etc.


I loved walking on the tree-lined streets of the area where we’re staying at coz I got to walk over dry fallen leaves. Hehe. Weird but I love the feeling of dry leaves crunching under my feet.


Tonight we will rehearse for our performance in DC. We will practice our MJ tribute number where each of us will try to do 8/8’s of a style we have studied at Illadelph with MJ’s song (Blood on the Dance Floor). Here are our respective assignments: Hien (Waaking), Silvia (Hip Hop), Mauricio (Breakdance), Scorben (Popping), Samer (House), & Michelle (Locking).

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DAY 14-15

July 27, 2009

We are here at the capital, DC. This is where Kennedy Center is located. THE JFK Center for Performing Arts is America’s living memorial to the late president (a known advocate of the arts: “I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities,” President Kennedy once said, “we, too, will be remembered not for our victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”) It is also the nation’s cultural center. The Center is a venue to great performers around the US & the globe. And this center was the one responsible for the 6 of us being here studying about the genre we are all so passionate about.

kcHere is the stage where we will be performing on Tue. The show is part of their outreach program where they have free performances everyday. 365 days a year including Christmas & Thanksgiving! How cool is that?

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This morning, we went on a DC Graffiti Murals guided by Cory of Words, Beats & Life’s. He told us about the history of (illegal) name writing which dates back to 4000 BC, with the evidence of engraved name of a Jewish soldier in Syria (Cory, WBL). In America, what started it was the occurrence of name writing symbol that emerged out of the train line. Hobos (or “homeward boys” which refer to migrant workers who hitched the train illegally) spread this way of writing to the cities they traveled to. Then in the late 70’s to early 80’s, when hip hop was born, “graffiti art” (as it is now referred to) emerged as its visual element.

Cory brought us along the train tracks and had us look at the illegal name writings.

Google about it and make an appointment so you can go see all those interesting murals! 🙂

Before we went on a short trip around DC, Cory brought U St. NW which was called the Black Broadway. This used to be an entertainment hotspot to African-American community, home to a lot of hip hop/jazz artists.


* A very short tour around DC. *

Then we went around DC to take quick photos of some of their famous landmarks.

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July 29, 2009

We just had a performance at the Millenium Stage of the Kennedy Center. It was awesome! The crowd was wonderful. The show was great, we had good reviews. ;)

I had a lot of boo boos though. Mental-block, nervousness, mga kaaway ng dancer. Puro adlib tuloy ako. And during the interview, I said (of Allstars), “We are ACTUALLY going to defend our COUNTRY.” Bwahahaha! (Jhong: “May war ba?”) Kainis. And I spoke so fast that even I didn’t understad what I said. That’s why I’d always say, make me do anything, just don’t make me talk. Kahit Tagalog. LOL

Anyway, I’m kinda sad and glad that this is over. Glad that I’ll get to rest now (Ooops nope pala, coz I’ll be assisting Allstars in Vegas. Blep.) I think I am just sooo tired, physically. But yeah I’m sad coz we’ll all go home now. :( We, the participants, have grown attached to each other like brothers & sisters that I hate to think I’d say good-bye to them tomorrow. Even to the interpreters, especially my Vietnamese “nanay,” Le-Thu (she calls me “anuk“). But hey, dance is such a small community. We’re bound to meet each other someday, someplace.

Imma miss everyone. It was so amazing how 6 different people from 3 continents have bonded in such a short time. I guess it’s because we all have the same passion. Coming from 5 diverse cultures, hip hop was our common ground. I had such fond memories with them–the laughter, the way we communicated (we almost do sign language coz not everyone was good in English. I myself became better at my “carabao-English” LOL), our training & rehearsals… Hien, the very workaholic but efficient famous choreographer from Vietnam. It was always fun hanging out with him coz he is a lot like Reagan. Acting gay even though he’s married hahaha. And like Reagan, too, he was always the first one who’d disappear when we arrive in a city & I would just learn that he went shopping or sight-seeing… Sam, a rapper Palestine, who went to America knowing only “Yes” & “No.” Now, he can already strike up a conversation as long as it stops after “How are you?” Hehe! Among all of us, Sam was the most emotional about this trip. He says that this is like a dream that he doesn’t wanna wake up to. I asked him once if there are a lot of dancers in his country & he said there weren’t many. The kids are too afraid to even walk on the streets because war is going on. He actually has a bullet mark on his right hand. :( My heart just goes out to him for sticking it out with his passion. Now I appreciate the scene back in the P.I. Mahirap pero at least ndi ka nakakaramdam ng takot… Scorben is a famous model who also dances in Lebanon. I would always tell him that he is like a baby in a huge man’s body coz he is soooo kulit! Hahaha!… Mauricio is a known choreographer & dancer in Argentina. I loved his solo piece (”Dancing” by Elisa) the most coz it was danced so passionately… Silvia is a dancer from Argentina, & she is, hands down, my most favorite female dancer now. Her moves are so intense & so powerful. She is the youngest among all of us (20 years old!), but she dances way beyond her age. I would always kid her, “Silvia is the best dancer in Argentina & the world,” & she would always laugh. She is like a little naive girl outside of the dance floor. But when she starts to move on stage, she transforms into a monster! And you know why I think, too, that she is the best? Coz she can wear tight-fitting outfit & do hip hop & I would see “street.” I can’t do that. I’d look ugly if I dance hip hop in tank-top & leggings.


* Us in front of the Watergate *


I will miss you all, my brothas & sistahs.

I just would like to thank the following:  Sir Tony Perez, Ms Jojie & Ms Martha of the US Embassy, Kennedy Center, the State Department, Jill Ross (you’re the best ate–older sister), Le-Thu, Connie & Samir. Lema for believing in me. Allstars for just allowing me to come here. Jhong & Tala for the inspiration. Hien, Silvia, Mauricio, Sam & Scorben for the friendship. And of course, BestFriend, salamat!

This program for me is not the culmination of my dance life, but the start of my never-ending search for knowledge & truth. I may have learned a lot but I still believe that I am a beginner. Coz learning doesn’t stop. But with whatever bullets I have got, I will try to use it to keep this movement alive.

Peace. Love. Unity.

Word. :)


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Embedded video from CNN Video

International hip-hop artists find their roots in U.S.

By Jill Dougherty
CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Six hip-hop artists from five countries speaking four languages are on stage, warming up for their show at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Embedded video from <a href=”” mce_href=””>CNN Video</a>

International hip-hop artists warm up for their show at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday.

“Warming up” doesn’t really capture it; the dancers explode across the stage, each one with a different hip-hop style.

Michelle Salazar is chic-grungy in black jeans and white T-shirt, her long black hair swirling around her head. Hassan El Haf, from Lebanon, tall and thin, does a kind of electric hip-hop mixed with salsa.

Argentines Mauricio Trech and Silvia Fernandez move in a dramatic break dance. Both hail from Argentina, home of the tango. Hien Ngoc Pham from Vietnam, with a buzz cut and dressed in white jeans and a white T-shirt, has Broadway bravado in his every move.

The dancing stops and Samer Samahneh begins rapping — in Arabic. No translation needed; it comes from his soul.

Three weeks ago, the dancers had never met, but now they’re a team, participating in the State Department’s Cultural Visitors Program. The program consists of three weeks of meeting American hip-hop artists and dancers and visiting New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

“It’s like a dream come true for me,” Salazar said Tuesday, the day of the team’s show, “because I only read their names in the Internet and now, like, I met Afrika Bambaataa, the founder of hip-hop. I was right next to him. It’s a real immersion into the culture. I don’t want to wake up!”

Salazar isn’t just star-struck. She’s learning a lot and she plans to bring it back to her fellow dancers in the Philippines.

“Dancers in the Philippines don’t have much of a foundation [in hip-hop],” she says. “They don’t understand why dancers do this” — she moves her arm — “or why they do this” — she strikes a pose. “Because if they knew why they would feel it. I can feel it by watching these [American] hip-hop dancers.”

Samahneh agrees: “You’ve got to feel it.” His rapping, he says, comes from inside-out. “Even if you don’t know the language, you can get involved with what I’m saying.”

Samahneh says that when he raps in his hometown of Nablus in the West Bank, he is “asking God to bring peace to our land.”

Colombia Barrosse, the vibrant head of the State Department’s Cultural Programs Division of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, says the cultural cross-fertilization is the goal of the program.

“There is nothing that can substitute for being in the United States and meeting Americans in their place, to look at the richness and diversity of the United States. That’s irreplaceable,” she says.

The Cultural Visitors Program is part of the State Department’s cultural programming around the world. The $8.5 million budget is supplemented by institutions like the Kennedy Center, which is co-sponsoring this performance.

Most of the visiting artists in the program found their way to professional dance through hip-hop.

Pham, a member of the Vietnam Dance Association, is currently working to open a hip-hop training center in Ho Chi Minh City to reach out to young people.

With a broad smile, he says, “Hip-hop is such energy. It’s so young. It’s also an opportunity for our countries to get closer, and I have a lot of friends all over the world.”

Hip-hop may have started in the United States, but it belongs to everyone. Here’s how Hassan El Haf puts it: When he got to New York, he felt as if he had landed on his “real planet.”

“Yeah, I see them, all the dancers in the street, the music, all the people that like hip-hop music,” he says. “When I do hip-hop, it makes me feel happy all the time. This is my life.”



  1. […] Hip Hop Program […]

    Pingback by Baby boy names beginning with B | July 24, 2009

  2. one of the best dance-blogs I’ve read so far ^_^

    Comment by ravenvogue | February 24, 2010

  3. […] Hip Hop Program […]

    Pingback by PUTTING MYSELF IN ADS STUDENTS’ SHOES « Who am i now? | July 5, 2010

  4. nice one ate tzy! I envy you having the oppurtunity. Cherish it and keep up the great work! 😀 mind if I share your blog?

    Comment by simon | July 5, 2010

  5. Thanks simon. Go ahead. I really posted this to share to the world. 🙂

    Thanks ravenvogue. Nice site you got there!

    Comment by calvinswife | July 6, 2010

  6. This penning is without a doubt rather envigorating. You sure have a manner of bringing written text to life. Have you actually taken into consideration specialized writing? I’ve been a sort of paid article writer for about 3 weeks currently, and get $500 on a daily basis putting up critical reviews at my own weblog, commenting on websites, and even penning articles. Apply right here if you are serious.

    Comment by Nadia | February 20, 2011

  7. […] My.Hip.Hop.Journey […]

    Pingback by TRENTA’Y TRES #throwback – HOW I BECAME HIP HOP « And I Wander | November 20, 2014

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