Beyond entertaining different generations of Filipinos with folk dance and music, Rommel and the rest of the Kalilayan Folkloric Group members hope to inform and inspire the audience on the vibrant but vanishing culture of Filipinos.
In this modern age where the Western way of life dominates indigenous cultures, the Kalilayan Folkloric Group believes that by promoting Philippine folk songs and dances to Filipinos, it can contribute in protecting the fading cultural traditions of the country.
Kalilayan Folkloric Group’s most important contribution is the wholistic growth of its members who at their young age are exposed to the colorful roots and traditions of their province and country. By dancing to Filipino folk music, the young members from small town Catanauan learn to appreciate their national identity and culture and develop pride in their heritage. Undergoing rigorous training, the young artists are also taught the value of perseverance and discipline, making each performance a winning result of their hard work and commitment.
One of the group’s memorable performances was the 1998 Hiyas ng Quezon, a show that featured different renowned dance groups from Quezon, and where KFG received a resounding ovation for its performance. Then still a young group, the KFG found the warm reception an overwhelming experience that added inspiration to its members. To this day, the group continues to be a consistent top placer in various dance competitions in Quezon.
Other neighboring provinces like Laguna and Cavite soon heard of the group’s rousing performances, and invited the Kalilayan Folkloric Group to grace their cultural events. Before long, the group was dancing in many events in Manila, including at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). The group was first invited to perform at the CCP in 2000 at the December Fiesta Celebration, after winning second place at the Timpalak Indakan, a folk dance competition sponsored by Nayong Pilipino.
The group’s painstaking efforts paid off when it garnered the overall first place in the following year for the same Nayong Pilipino competition. The success earned them a prestigious rank among the best cultural dance groups in the country. As a result, the CCP invited them again for a solo performance in its annual December Fiesta.
In 2002, the group participated in the opening celebration of the National Arts month at the CCP grounds. The group launched its world premier of Binyagan at the 2002 Sari-saring Sayaw, Sama-samang Galaw at the CCP main theater and at the Concert at the Park in Luneta. Also in the same year, the Kalilayan Folkloric Group was again invited at the CCP to take part in the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group’s ‘Vamos A Belen: Christmas Practices in the Philippines’.
In 2004, the group has just come back from a successful performance of Sulyap 2: A Glance in Our History in Boracay Island. The KFG today continues to perform in its home province Quezon, and in Manila, gracing various cultural events, awards nights, trade fairs, international conferences, etc.
In 2005, the group was again invited in the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ dance production, Sari-saring Sayaw, Sama-samang Galaw 2005: Mga Tradisyon at Interpretasyon. Together with other top Filipino folk dance groups from all over the country, the KFG rendered lively interpretations of Philippine folk dances as part of the celebration of 2005 National Arts Month. The KFG showcased in this prestigious event the unique folk dances and music of Catanauan, Quezon, a world premier of Las Flores A Maria La Madre Nuestra (Flowers for Mary, Our Mother), a celebration of flores de mayo, pays faithful tribute to the original dances of the tradition-rich Catanauan.
Now on its tenth year, the university-based Kalilayan Folkloric Group has opened its doors to other young aspiring artist in Catanauan. Joined by other senior KFG and ROFG members: Leonardo E. Bruno, Jr. and Renato N. Castelo, Rommel tirelessly trains new members with the hope that the next generation will persevere in Kalilayan Folkloric Group’s commitment: to instill discipline, confidence and good values to its young members, and to promote our dying cultural traditions to the greatest number of Filipinos.