Memories of a meaningful Christmas
It is a time of magic, enchantment, and joy. More than gifts and endless parties, Christmas also holds a deeper meaning for the members of Ballet Manila. Sharing their personal thoughts on this special season are company artists Jessica Pearl Dames and Shaira Comeros, BM 2 artist John Carl Concepcion with former Ballet Manila dancer Alvin Santos, Lisa Macuja School of Ballet Manila teacher Sofia Sangco Peralta, and rehearsal mistress Eileen Lopez.
Jessica Pearl Dames, company artist
My memorable Christmas is Christmas with my Lola. I always spend Christmas in our province where Lola lives. It is where I grew up and every Christmas, our family is complete. Mommy, stepdad, sister, aunties, uncles, cousins, nephew, niece are all there.
We cook together for Christmas eve, eat together and open gifts together. Lola used to make her special embutido which is the best embutido that I have ever tasted!
I always remember grandma’s happiness when we are all complete. And she is always happy because she would receive so many gifts from us. Since she passed away last year, Christmas feels incomplete without her. We miss her so much but in our hearts she will always be celebrating Christmas with us.
Shaira Comeros, company artist
I have a lot of memorable Christmas stories but what stands out the most was when my family and I welcomed Christmas in a studio (Christmas 2009). We are a family of eight. My parents were costume makers at a performing arts school where I started my dancing.
Their salaries weren't enough to afford rent for an apartment nor provide us a fancy noche buena. We would sleep in the studio where I used to dance. And it was there where we once welcomed Christmas. With one bag of Tatak Pinoy bread and instant noodles, our noche buena was complete.
Come to think of it, it was just a simple midnight snack with my family. I didn’t realize back then but looking at it now, Christmas is not always about extravagant celebrations. It's about spending time with my loved ones whether there be a feast or the simplest food on the table. It's about being grateful for every situation. I was with my family enjoying our snack, and I couldn't ask for more.
JC Concepcion, BM 2 artist
Memorable yung binilihan po ako nila Kuya Alvin Santos ng sapatos at bag noong bata pa po ako. Lagi niyang paalala na sumayaw hangga’t kaya pa (It was memorable when Kuya Alvin Santos bought me a pair of shoes and bag when I was younger. He would always tell me to keep dancing for as long as I can)!
Alvin Santos, former company artist explained:
Kahit noong mga scholar pa lang sila Alfren (Salgado, former soloist), niyayaya ko na sila (the scholar boys) sa house namin. Magbo-bonding kami tapos sa bahay na din sila natutulog (Even way back when Alfren was just a scholar, I would invite the scholar boys to our house. We would bond and they would all spend the night).
Ginagaya ko lang po kung ano ang ginagawa ni Sir Shaz (co-artistic director Osias Barroso) sa amin nung mga scholar pa kami. Nung time nila JC (Concepcion), dalawa na kami ni Glenn (Ragel, former company artist) na nag-treat sa kanila. Basta ilalabas naming sila at minsan pumupunta din kami sa World Trade Bazaar (I was just following the example of Sir Shaz who did the same for us when we were scholars. During JC’s time, Glenn and I would treat them. We would all go out and sometimes go to the World Trade Center Bazaar).
Nakikitaan naming sila ng potential. And in time, pwede sila na talaga ang pumalit sa amin. Magagaling silang lahat ngayon sa Ballet Manila at siyempre proud ako doon (We see their potential. In time, we knew they could replace us. They’re all good dancers now at Ballet Manila. And of course, I’m so proud of them).
Sofia Sangco-Peralta, instructor at the Lisa Macuja School of Ballet Manila
Christmas is my most favorite holiday. We all get to spend precious time with our families, go to parties and reunions, share laughter and enjoy the food, give gifts to those who are dear to us, and to open all the presents on Christmas day.
Every Christmas is special but the most memorable year was when our marriage was put to a test. With the help of our family and friends, and especially with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were able to overcome the challenges.
It was a reminder that Christmas is not just about all the happy moments we get to experience, but more about the bond – our faith getting stronger to trust more of Jesus in everything we do. After all the essence of Christmas is love and forgiveness.
Eileen Lopez, rehearsal mistress
2013. It was the last Christmas I had with my Dad before he passed away. He was based in Bicol. He came to Manila to celebrate with us. It was all very simple – the usual celebration at home. But since it was the last with him, even if it was simple it was the most special and memorable.
This year is also memorable as Jill (Eileen’s pet dog) is gone. Christmas is her birthday too.