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Dancing unites a nation

The gays decided to get back at her in a gaily creative way: they danced to “Tala,” video-ed it, posted it on social media and captioned it with a protest note against the woman whom they identified simply as Aling Nelia.

Danny Vibas

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Hundreds of thousands of Pinoys are following or watching a dance video even in this supposedly gloomy days. The media outlets that report the gloom are the same as the ones that crow about the dancing and viewing, with happy feeds from the even more democratic (egalitarian? pedestrian?) social media network.

But, well, this corner says, it’s good for the world not to drown on sorrow, tension, stress. Or to twist that glamorous cliche about shopping, “When the going gets tough, the tough go dancing.”

Though it’s very possible that Pinoys who are not directly affected by the outbursts of that little volcano on a little lake in Batangas have been shopping.

The dancing and the viewing have to do with a song called “Tala” — and it might be sheer coincidence that “” is just a jumble of the name of the volcano and the lake: “Taal.”

Here’s the lead of CNN Philippines website report about the latest positive development about the song:
“’Tala’ fever has reached a grander scale.

“Sarah Geronimo’s 2016 hit has made its debut on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales Chart, claiming the 12th spot on Friday (17 January). Billboard releases weekly lists of the most popular songs in the United States and worldwide.”

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“Tala” is a tribal beat-infused infectious pop song about love.

Original “Tala” dance choreographer Georcelle Dapat-Sy and Sarah herself all credit the roots of the sudden craze build-up to the LGBT community, particularly to one Bench Hipolito.

JUST like Sarah and the G-Force, many are enticed to gyrate and dance along the catchy track that wreaked havoc at last year’s Christmas parties and continues to make impact even during times of calamities.

A drag queen and known Sarah G impersonator, Bench has continuously incorporated the song into her numerous performances at the O Bar, a gay entertainment club in Ortigas, as early as 2017.

Her weekly high-energy delivery of the song’s music video choreography, not to mention her striking resemblance to the Philippines’ well-loved Pop Princess, has helped turn “Tala” into an LGBT nightlife staple and subculture.

Adding fuel to its popularity in the community at that time was DJ and Nectar Nightclub host Peabo Orilla, who often dropped the song by hyping up the crowd with the iconic line “Gusto n’yo ba ng ‘Tala?’” The ditty’s opening riff is welcomed with unfettered cheering and dancing.

Eventually, Sarah even danced the song alongside Bench in an appearance on the morning talk show Magandang Buhay (on ABS-CBN last 21 October when Sarah guested there to promote her movie Unforgettable (which did not feature the song at all).

Flash forward to December 2019. A group of raucous gays  in congested Sta. Ana district in Manila wanted to play volleyball in a space fronting a grumpy woman’s house. She shooed them away.

The gays decided to get back at her in a gaily creative way: they danced to “Tala,” video-ed it, posted it on social media and captioned it with a protest note against the woman whom they identified simply as “Aling Nelia.”

The posting went viral. Sarah learned about it and thanked the gays for using the song the way they did. She reiterated that she was aware the LGBT people have been dancing to her music video.

Eventually, the gaggle of gays was invited to dance at It’s Showtime whose arguably most famous host is the gay Vice Ganda. The gays (who later identified themselves as the Bessy Family) danced with The Hashtag Boys and BidaMan talents of the show inside the ABS-CBN studio in Quezon City on Christmas Eve (it was a pre-taped episode, though the show normally airs live from the studio). Their dance was toggled with another group of gays dancing to “Tala” on a street in Sta. Ana. The show found Aling Nelia and it arranged a kiss-and-make-up meeting between her and the Bessy Family gaggle of gays on 24 December.

Energetic cheerfulness is contagious. Some netizens thought of launching a “Tala Challenge,” which dares people to video themselves dancing to the song and post it to Tik Tok or any other social media network. No prize was offered but folks started posting their videos.

SARAH Geronimo is the voice behind the viral “Tala” challenge.

On the first Sunday of January 2020, a TV show decided to make dancing to the love ditty the theme of one of their episodes and called it “Tala Nation.”

The show is Kapamilya network’s ASAP Ko ‘To where Sarah herself is among the host performers. The show had hundreds ofcpeople dancing on the streets inside the ABS-CBN compound. And since the network has regional stations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, it also had folks dancing to the viral track on the streets fronting the regional studios.

By now, numerous videos of dance covers have been going viral on social media, including one by actor couple Maine Mendoza and Arjo Atayde. The song’s official music video, which premiered on YouTube on 11 June 2016, now has over 52 million views and counting.

The latest to do the dance is Vhong Navarro in his birthday celebration production number in It’s Showtime where he is one of the hosts.

As of this writing, the video of his performance already has more than 750,000 views and it is currently one of the top trending videos on YouTube.

Though Sarah is exclusive to ABS-CBN as a TV star, even the stars of Kapuso network have been posting their “Tala” videos. Pauleen Luna, of Eat Bulaga, and the legal Mrs. Vic Sotto, recently did it with co-host talent Bae-by Baste. While we’re writing this, the post has garnered 59,404 likes.

Camille Prats and her daughter Nala also took on the viral dance challenge. As of deadline time for this column, it has earned 125,007 likes.

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Did we say at the beginning that “Tala” is a jumble of Taal? Well, there’s now “Tala Para sa Taal,” a fundraising zumba event organized by women from a barangay in Pasay who do their zumba at the Rizal Park.

Yes, when the going gets tough, the tough go dancing. We should do more dancing more than divisive politics and religion. Dancing can yet unite us as a peaceful, cheerful, healthy nation.

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