Promoting Filipino Pride
The Filipino Youth Activities Drill Team
Starting a grand celebration also entails a marvelous encore! As the festival starts with a bang, it ends with a blast! Precision marches, combined with elegant moves drawn from traditional Philippine dances, are the trademark of the acclaimed FYA Drill Team, and every year they bring Pagdiriwang to a rousing close. Directed by Lynette Consego.
In the Spring of 1959, the Filipino Youth Activities began a new drill team they hoped would soon participate in some Seattle Seafair parades. Twenty-two young girls responded to Fred Cordova's recruitment efforts – and a drill team was born in the play ground of the Atlantic Street Center. Although most drill teams sported short pants and heavy boots – the FYA girls were dressed as Moslems – as Princesas.
In 1961, Datu Cordova added the Cumbancheros who played drums, gongs and other percussive instruments to supply rhythmic beats to which the girls would march. In 1964 another section – the young Mandaya– were added to provide color with the different flags they would carry and to contribute to the beats on their pulsaks (small gongs).
In its fifty years, the FYA Drill Team has been uniquely different in its exciting shows before the American public, not only in the Pacific Northwest and Canada but as far in the nation as west in Honolulu, as east in Washington, D.C., as south as San Diego and as north as Juneau, Alaska. As the team marched in parades, people danced to their exciting rhythms.
Their repertoire is unlike anything in the world – the Philippines included. Their own dialect of Morondanao is reflected in the main languages from Luzon to the Sulu Archipelago, along with Hindi, Indonesian, Spanish and such – augmented with musical instruments American, Latin American, Muslim, Igorot. In competitive parades the FYA is festooned with banners, flags and three-tiered umbrellas to give Americans more than a glance of Filipiniana cultural artistry.
But it is in the disciplined, precision drill team marching that has made the FYA one of the better of the bests in the nation – and it is still the only Filipino-American drill team in the U.S. Since 1989 – the team has been nurtured under the leadership of Lynnette and Ron Consego.
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