One of the best things about New York is diversity. In this City, variety is the trend and in most cases, cultural differences are admired and celebrated with proud enthusiasm and vigor that may match its homegrown sentiment.
A popular version of the Waray folk dance was the cultural highlight in the send-off party held at the Father Demo Hall of the Our Lady of Pompeii Church in honor of Fr. Mike Lagrimas, a native of Samar in the Philippines. A big contingent from Samar was present that passed the authenticity of the said traditional dance performed that night. This dance is called the kuratsa or curacha, a popular Waray cultural element that grew side by side with the Philippine national dance, the tinikling that also traces its roots to that region.
According to Samareno Robert Bacaycay, Curacha Waray is ideally danced ‘amenudo‘, which means only one couple at each time. The idea is the man chases the woman as they dance around a cloth while fellow revelers, in the olden times the wedding guests perhaps, participate in the dance by throwing in money or valuables into the cloth. The man makes downward swooping gestures that teasingly aim at the woman’s skirt as he tries to lift it a bit to expose parts of the midcalf. The woman tries to evade the partner’s advances as she ironically does flirtatious movements like swaying of the hips that further teases the man, while at the same time securing her skirt. The climax is the ‘gapus‘ part wherein one of the revelers tries to restrain the determined man with a cloth tied around his waist. The dance is very joyful and has later evolved as fundraising activity wherein any willing partner may perform.
As many willing partners may dance and in the modern times, it need not be a couple. At the event, there were 5 to 6 pairs who did their own versions of kuratsa. After the dances, the dollar bills were generously piled up on the cloth. The event in New York has raised enough money for a cause in a joyous fashion reminiscent of festivals in the Philippines.