PASACAT is a Philippine folk dance, but in San Diego, it began as the acronym for the Philippine-American Society and Cultural Arts Troupe
On September 7, 1969, during a salute to San Diego’s 200th Anniversary by the Filipino-American Community Association of San Diego County, with Delfin Labao as president, San Diego witnessed the birth of this performing arts group in the first Philippine Cultural Extravaganza held at the Organ Pavilion, Balboa Park.
Paz Marquez Uro and Dr. Bill Yumul choreographed and instructed fifty Filipino-American youths in Philippine dance for this three-hour tribute. The enthusiasm from this performance was tremendous, as was the response to continue Philippine folk dancing.
On November, 1970, PASACAT became the first formally organized Philippine Dance Company in San Diego.
There are three major performing components:
- Senior Company
- Junior Dancers
- Rondalla/Percussion Instrumentalists
Under the artistic direction of George Ragaza, from 1985 to 1989, the Senior Company presentations were enhanced tremendously by his expertise in Philippine dance technique and styles, costuming and ethnic music.
Joji Ramirez Castro, former member of the world famous Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company, joined PASACAT’s artistic staff in 1986 and has guided the development of the energetic and eager Junior PASACAT Dancers. Since 1990, she has taken the position of PASACAT Choreographer/Dance Director lending her expertise in authentic Philippine dance.
The beginning of a new decade in 1980 brought new dimensions to PASACAT. Bayani Mendoza De Leon, of the University of the Philippines, developed the music ensembles in voice, rondalla and indigenous percussive instruments. This expansion broadened the Company’s horizon in promoting the rich culture of the Philippines. This is evident in the PASACAT 1982 Rondalla and Vocal Ensemble’s contribution to the Magandang Pilipinas, record album, captivating a wider audience.
PASACAT in Motion
PASACAT, in its 44th season, continues to contribute to the cultural enrichment of San Diego. Fifty performances are given yearly by the sixty students, apprentices, and Company members for an audience totaling 7,000 for numerous educational, cultural, religious and social organizations.
Other major productions are the Junior PASACAT Concert and the Parol Festival. His Excellency, Jose L. Cuisia, Philippine Ambassador to the United States graced the 2011 Parol Festival which again exemplifies PASACAT’s artistry and community building efforts.
The City of San Diego hosted the Americans for the Arts Conference, June 2011. PASACAT had the honor of performing after the keynote address of Robert Shriver to a mesmerized audience of 1,200 from all parts of the United States.
PASACAT On Tour
As early as 1975, PASACAT has performed throughout California for the Philippine Department of Tourism Balikbayan Road Show; the Philippine-American Community of Palm Springs.
Other significant performances have been for the Los Angeles reception for His Excellency President Fidel Ramos, U. S. Conference of Mayors, National League All- Star Baseball Game, Unveiling Ceremonies of the Philippine Float for the Rose Parade and the 1998 Super Bowl Pre-Game Show, Qualcomm Stadium. PASACAT has been on the prestigious California Arts Council Touring Artist & Presenting Program, through which they performed at the Luther Burbank Theatre and U.C. Santa Cruz.
In August, 2002, PASACAT had the distinct honor of performing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, with the Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company in celebration of its 45th Anniversary. Seventeen company members were given music and dance workshops by Bayanihan – a first for any U.S. Philippine dance company – as well as the Ramon Obusan Folkloric group. On July 12, 2014, the Philippine Consulate of Los Angeles, served as the host country for the Lotus Festival at the newly renovated Echo Park and called upon PASACAT to represent the Philippines in a 45-minute opening program.