Reflections after Watching “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa”

by misslampa

As there are so many things un-Filipino about me, I sometimes wonder…was I born in the wrong country? I never played jolens and siato (or is it chato?) while I was growing up, and even now I don’t know the rules of pusoy dos and tong-its. I’ll be lost if I shop in Divisoria, I won’t eat with bare hands unless I have to, and for the life of me, I can never get what’s so fascinating about basketball or afternoon soaps.

I cringe at the thought of eating the poor sisiw in balut, can’t remember the last time I ate one. I don’t remember how it feels to have that soft, pointed beak tickle my tongue as my teeth sink into that gooey flesh the color of which is a mix between pale pink and faint brown with very light streaks of gray. Just imagining it makes me squirm.

Apart from my morena skin and black eyes, I think what’s already most Filipino about me is my unwavering conviction that the taste of happiness is best captured in a cup of taho or pink scramble. Oh, and that there should be a tabo in every bathroom or washroom or water closet – or comfort room, as we call it here in the Philippines. I just shifted from food to poop right there, didn’t I? Sorry.

One thing I know, though, is that I love my country to bits. Down to every bit, I tell you. And that’s something I declare loudly and proudly.

But rarely in my native tongue, sadly.

So sometimes I find myself questioning if I’m really that proud after all. If I am as proud as I say I am, shouldn’t communicating that sentiment in my native tongue be part of the equation? Or at least I could say it in Filipino as much as I do in English, right? How phony I can be at times.

I honestly don’t know when English started becoming the more natural, less tiring choice. Don’t get me wrong, though. I can speak conversational Filipino without the twang (I think), and if I try hard enough, I’m sure I can write a decent piece or two. But for years now, I’ve been using English to teach and hope and think and write and dream. My mastery of the Filipino language is… well, there’s really no mastery to talk about. So I’ve been capturing pieces of myself using borrowed words because before “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa” (Alvin Yapan at Alem Ang, 2011) came along, I thought English was it for me.

But while I was watching this gem of a film yesterday evening at the CCP, as I was taking in line after line of some of the most beautifully-written poetry in Filipino, I understood that I am really every bit the Pinoy I claim myself to be because I don’t remember any English text ever having gripped me as much as some of the lines from the poem Paglisan by Joi Barrios, which is about a woman who’s left to deal with herself after her lover walks out on her.


Nais kong mabatid

Ang lahat ng iyong

Tinangay at iniwan.

Nais kong malaman,

Kung buong-buo pa rin ako

sa iyong paglisan.


(Thanks to the scud for sharing the lines with me.ü)


The poem became the lyrics of a tender yet sad and unsettling song used in the movie, and I swear I was literally hugging myself while I was right smack in the middle of CCP’s Main Theatre. No poem, not even Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” has ever made me feel so much pain and loss and love and longing. I don’t think anything written in English ever will.

It was at that moment that I discovered I can teach and think and even dream in English all I want, but if you want my very core to fully and earnestly understand, you have to speak to me in Filipino.

Apparently – and thankfully, can I just say – I’m Filipino like that.


Catch the 4pm screening of “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa” today, 24 July 2011. Click on the link to see the full trailer. And since you’re trooping to CCP anyway, you might as well watch the other Cinemalaya films this year.

3 Comments to “Reflections after Watching “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa””

  1. Of the four full-length films I saw, Sayaw is my hands-down favorite! I’m at a loss for words to describe the musical score of this film. =D

  2. Dapat manonood ako ng Babae sa Septic Tank kaso lang di ko na nahanapan ng panahon. As usual.

    • Go, manood ka! Laugh trip yun. Sabi sa internet, dadalhin sa alabang ang Cinemalaya entries this year. :-)) Nagkita kami ni nherz sa CCP after Sayaw, and then we saw Patikul together. Fun! Text mo ako pag manonood ka sa Alabang ha. May mga pelikula na hindi ko pa napanood e.

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