I’m sure we’ve all heard of the saying warning us not to play with fire, but the young fire performers dancing on the streets of Divisoria in Cagayan de Oro City just make it so easy that you might even think of doing it yourself.
Last year, every Friday and Saturday, fire dancers from the youth art group Dire Husi Initiative lights up a portion of the Divisoria park. A crowd of onlookers gather around the performers as the ethnic beat of the drum fire up a festive atmosphere in the streets.
The group was created to give street children and out-of-school youth a chance to show the community that they have the talent and skills in both performing and visual arts. Members are taught not only on how to perform but also the different ways of painting and creating visually rich artistic creations.
“We aim to bring out the potentials of our youths, these out of school kids have potentials but lack hope to pursue them. Collectively we get strength to make something where we make an alternative livelihood at the same time be an influence of creativity and passion to pursue the dreams of our youth,” said Rhyan Casino, Dire Husi founder and the Northern Mindanao visual arts coordinator for the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
I was one of those who was caught by the amazing display of skill and talent and was more amazed when I found out that they are performing to give back to the street children and the people for free. I’ve seen a hat being passed to collect a small amount of cash only to find out that it was used to buy additional gasoline for the performance to go an extra few more rounds.
At the end of the performance as the crowd subsided, it was more heartwarming to see the performer share the money left for the street children and even to the extent of teaching them the art of fire dancing.
But all of that stopped when Typhoon Sendong tragically hit Cagayan de Oro City, and along with it brought down the light and life of the busy streets of the city. For four months, the performers only performed on booked private and out of town events. For most of them, performing in a festive spirit out on the street would only dishonor the pain and suffering the city was facing.
Late April, the group decided it was about time to get back to Divisoria and once again share their talents to the streets where they used to hang out. To entertain people and especially to give life and hopefully inspire children to have more faith in themselves in discovering that art is innate to each and everyone of us.
After all, who would understand out of school youth and street children who had lost hope but an arts group that was created out of it.