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By Christian C.


The Day the Dancers Came, which is the title of the story, refers to the arrival of the Filipino ethnic dancers in the protagonist's now hometown, Chicago. It is suitable in a way because they represent the cultural heritage of where Fil had been raised.

The story begins with Filemon Acayan rising up in the morning being enthusiastically elated that it is finally the day the dancers arrived. It is such great morning for him that he even had a chat with it with his friend Tony Bataller on what would happen if he finally met a fellow "kababayan" from their country. But unlike him, his friend lack the same enthusiasm that he had. As the day progress, we are shown the events that take place, especially the most prominent scene of all. Fil arrived in the hotel and invited the dancers to his home but they declined. Realizing they are not interested to his humble offer, he no longer insist to ask. Although despite what had happened, Fil still came to the theater watch the play and with him recorded everything that the dancers did, as a remembrance and for Tony. When he finally came home, Fil played the tape for Tony but his friend ordered to turn the tape off due itself to his leprosy causing him pain. In a state of panic, Fil accidentally erased the recordings on the tape and leaving him with nothing but him and Tony alone in their apartment.

Yes both literally and in figurative sense on what is happening in our country. Like how there are Filipinos going abroad either to live or to work there to have the opportunities that our own country couldn't provide. Or the cultural issues of differences of the younger and older generations. For example the scene were the dancers rejected Fil's offer to come to his house could be interpreted that they no longer have the same upbringing as Fil was raised due itself on how it is common to invite guest in one's on home and to reject that is to imply lack of gratitude to the owner's gesture despite them being cultural ethnic dancers. Another probable interpretation and what could had been alluded to the story is that one is desperately attempting to held together what he had accustomed to as he had grown up, and the other is readily accepting with eagerness a completely new culture from another country that did not originated from their motherland Philippines.

What is ironic about this description is we would assumed if we didn't read the story, that the former was being referred to the dancers while the latter is to Fil and Tony. But this was actually the opposite. To even include that this was created during 1955 but all the issues it presents still rings true to us all Filipinos alike proves the intricate realism and complexity that the story has.

It reminds me of Charlie Chaplin's speech in movie "The Great Dictator", and the films "Lost in Translation" and "Broken Flowers" that both stars Bill Murray, and last but not the least the film "Fast Five". The first because of the reason last parts in the film is were Chaplin speaks first the first time and talks about democracy, equality: acceptance of our individual differences, to opposed dictatorship and imperialism, to not let those unnatural men, as Chaplin puts it, to tell you what to do, what to think or what to feel.

My point is, all the global problems such as the cultural ones that our ancestors had faced is something that even now we still experienced. Our technologies may change, our culture may change but there are still things that remains the same. Some are for the good and some are for the bad. The second is because the film "Lost in Translation" is about cultural shock and existentialism -- purpose or meaning of life. The two protagonist, Bob played by Bill Murray and Charlotte by Scarlett Johansson, in the story parallels in some way to the situation of Filemon Acayan and Tony Bataller. Both of the four characters end up in a situation they don't like and couldn't move on or even perhaps unable to know where to move on. Lost in a foreign country that aren't their customs or culture, etc. On what was once them being happy are now lost with their lives and identity.

The third is the film "Broken Flowers" that themes about regrets and the consequence of our actions. Our protagonist Don Johnston acted by Bill Murray again, is a former womanizer and in his old age. Unable to live in the present and move on, and instead stuck in the past but when suddenly receiving letters on one of his former girlfriends that he had a son, he is forced to face what he dreadfully evades. Giving him hope that he may not after all die in old age all alone his life without anyone beside him. I choose this film because the protagonist parallels to the personality of Fil, as they both stuck in the past and somewhat unable to move on to the progression of the present. That and how the film itself is similar to this story on leaving with an open ending, giving the reader or the viewer the choice what had happened to them after the events, and if they had moved on or stayed the same.

Last but not the least, is the movie "Fast Five" which ironically isn't deeply dealing with serious cultural, political or even philosophical issues but rather an action packed heist movie with some sexual explicit scenes. And yet the movie have an impressive plot with very relatable characters with realistic personalities. To summarize, what I find the most notable scene in the film that somehow I give a deep meaning were when Toretto and O'Connor, one of the protagonist in the story, just talk about their life and recapped what happened to them. About how things have changed and end up with a conclusion that life is just that, it is a progressing existence and if you don't move on from the past or other tragedies that happened to you, you would no longer be living in the present but stuck in to that reality. That all those happy memories that we have is created within the present and to have newer happy memories, you just have to create it in to this present. Which I think was what Fil was unable to understand.

"Fil switched off the dial and in the sudden stillness, the voices turned into faces, familiar and near, like gesture and touch that stayed on even as the memory withdrew, bowing out, as it were, in a graceful exit, saying, thank you, thank you, before a ghostly audience that clapped hands in silence and stomped their feet in a such emptiness."

I chose this line because it gives me goosebumps and what I find one of the most significant part in the story. That it is a memory of the past. It reminds me of the scene at the end of Titanic were the film gives you what Jack, Rose and whole crew was like and could be. A presence that haunts, and a present that once were. It makes you realized that time is very important and to waste it, is to waste what you only have.

I'll give it a score of 9/10, because of the complex symbology and multiple layers of anthromorphic representations of their character, and of our contradicting culture is simply descriptive and realistically true to life in short well done. I can say it is a true artistic work and could understand why it is considered simply a classic. Although, I do not agree to the connotation being thrown upon that a change to a culture is immediately entirely negative but I do get the essence and the point of it. For me, I define a culture as something that is a collective of our individuality. We are what compromises the culture. For we are the culture. It changed because we had changed, it is a reflection of our reality, and of ourselves. For example singing and dancing is a culture, it is simply a way to express ourselves. Our ethnic elders simply express themselves through their ethnic dance, and to enforce it to others is missing the point. It is like asking to imitate someone, and by doing that we simply are not being ourselves and true to ourselves. So to say, it is simply their culture and not ours, and our culture is ours and not theirs.

This is also how revolution happens which is through progress, and progress happens when you let go of the old thinking so that the new one would come. It doesn't mean that we should keep moving to change and reject everything that is old but that we should keep what is important and integrate it with the new.