This article is the 1st of 3 in a series entitled, Dance to Live: Decoding a Culture, which explores the intersections of dance, culture, history, and identity in the 21st century Philippine context, aiming to scratch the surface of an ever festive, ever gyrating culture and probe into the nuances and contrast with its Hispanic heritage, and its continental incongruity. This article offers an overview of the Filipino dancing culture as the world sees it, and attempts to peel the layers to reveal an ingrained permission culture.

The sun, bright and fiery than ever, burns mercilessly. Its rays seem to stretch out to the opposite poles of the earth, spreading and engulfing like wildfire. Wildfire of a tropical summer, burning as bad as it drains.

And at the heart of this noontime spotlight—of smog, traffic and road rage—is a solitary figure, with a large grin and limbs that swing, wave, and gyrate to an esoteric beat. The person is in uniform, almost-easily recognized by the general public as a traffic enforcer. A public servant. A civil officer. He looks like he’s having fun, as he twirls and beckons to one side of the thoroughfare. His hips don’t lie; you can almost hear him vocalize, as he signals to your car to move along and make it snappy.

Enveloped by thick layers of fumes, vehicles, and tension, this officer maintains his routine of standing—dancing—in the middle of the road to ease the traffic and your nerves. And so far, it seems to be effective. The decrease in horn honking is noticeable, as well as the minimized tendency for gridlocks and counter-flows, not to least mention the steadier traffic flow—perhaps not the smoothest, but nonetheless calm and cooperative.