Last night JG and I attended a show on Filipino culture through dances and other various presentations; starring students, teachers, and parents of the Philippine Community School here in Tripoli. I wasn’t suppose to go but circumstances left me no choice, which wasn’t so bad since I thought it would be an experience to watch something about home when you’re away from home.
I asked JG to accompany me to a doctor’s appointment since I thought he can squeeze it in between after office hours and the show which was scheduled at eight. The doctor thing took longer than I expected and JG was already getting irritated at me since I might’ve caused him to be late. Thankfully, true to what we now accept to be a Libyan part of life, the show didn’t start on time. It started way longer than expected. So we joined one of JG’s colleagues to have coffee outside the theater at row of stores that a taxi driver friend said to me is where you can find the best Shawarma’s in Tripoli. A cup of cappuccino was perfect too since its really starting to get cold here in Libya, and I forgot to bring a jacket.
A warm beef shawarma later we were told that we can finally come inside the theater. There, we were greeted by the school officials and people in-charge of the theater. One of the best parts of the night was when we were invited to have dinner outside before the show starts where we were served with plates of Couscous topped with Kharouf.
And so two hours late as its supposed time for curtains up, the show began…
The main parts of the program especially the cultural dances were really a treat. Back home you kind of take for granted seeing performances like that, but it really gives you a nostalgic feeling, sort of like being able to sample a local dish or food you thought you weren’t able to get a chance to eat in a long time when living abroad.
I was also impressed by the talented students who performed. I found it ironic how many of them, mostly whom are half Filipino half some-other-nationality or most of whom have never set foot in the Philippines have a better sense of patriotism than many of the kids living back home. Because they are given the chance to show their skills through such culturally inspired events, they have a better understanding of their heritage even though they live so far away from their country. There were a number of students who performed more than once, having to memorize three or four kinds of dance routines. One of my favorite parts is when a group of beautiful six year old girls performed a Muslim dance; I couldn’t get over how cute they were in their silk pajamas adorned with pearls around their necks and on their heads and how you could lip read them counting the steps.
The experience was culturally educating for me as well, since I got a glimpse of how Libyans are in a gathering. We Filipinos I know to be very held back and yet as we would call it back home, mababaw ang kaligayahan (easily pleased or entertained). Unlike westerners we Pinoys don’t usually give a standing ovation when overwhelmed by a performance, but you can win our hearts by slaps-stick gags, a good singing voice, or even a corny joke. Libyans on the other hand, I observed are very keen to participate, like how they would match their claps to the beat of the music, or mimic sounds that they hear said or sung on the program. And by that you can easily tell if they are amused or not, simply by how much they participate as an audience. When they are with you, they are with you loudly…