During these trying times, everyone has a story of struggle to tell. From battling cabin fever due to prolonged confinement in the house to trying to making ends meet for the family, there are various issues brought about by the pandemic. In one way or another, we long for hope and inspiration. That’s exactly what Kapuso actress Rochelle Pangilinan and her team of creatives shared with us through her recent viral video with the theme “Laban sa sayaw ng buhay.”

In a two-minute video, Rochelle can be seen restless and struggling emotionally as her plans have been ruined by the situation she is in. She later bursts into an energetic dance, showcasing her groove just like the old times. The video pays tribute to the 90s hit song ‘Bakit Papa?‘ popularized by Rochelle and her fellow dancers.

Here’s the 90s hit song:

In case you missed it, Rochelle is one of the original members of Eat Bulaga’s phenomenal all-female dance group Sexbomb Dancers. The dance group’s popularity eventually led to the ladies’ acting stints in the long-running afternoon drama series, Daisy Siete.

Virtual interview last November 5, 2020. Clockwise: Eboy Valdez Vinarao (Producer), Kate Adajar (RandomRepublika.com), Rochelle Pangilinan, and Tristan Cheng (Director)

Touching message gave birth to a video concept

Producer: Eboy Vinarao

“It all started with a very important message from Roc about her experience during the pandemic,” Producer Eboy Valdez Vinarao related how a touching moment led to the short video concept during our exclusive interview. Eboy and Rochelle have been long-time friends who belong to the same circle in GMA Network that serves as a support system to one another. “In the middle of the pandemic,” he said, “there was this one day, I remember Roc suddenly messaging everyone [in a group chat] about how she was feeling, na ang bigat-bigat ng nangyayari, with all the negative things we see on social media and the news na sinabayan pa na hindi tayo makalabas. Wala tayong outlet to release the stress. Nag-message siya sa amin saying inspirational words na base sa kanyang experiences. Sabi niya sa amin, ‘Let’s all be strong not just for ourselves, but also for our families.’

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What seemed to be just a simple message inspired Eboy to extend the message to a wider audience. He recalled telling Rochelle, “Many people deserve to know the message. Lahat naman tayo, nararamdaman ‘yun. To be honest, lahat naman tayo, alam ang dapat gawin but it helps a lot na merong tatapik pa rin sa’tin at mag-re-remind. Kung anong ginawa mo sa amin, baka okay na gawin mo rin sa iba through your own channel. Something na hindi natin kailangan gumastos nang masyado, mai-spread lang natin ‘yung mensahe na ‘yun. At least matapik man lang natin ang mga tao to be strong, huwag tayong gi-give up.”

The prompt to inspire

Dancer-actress-mom Rochelle Pangilinan

When I asked what prompted her to send the touching group message, Rochelle shared her story. She admitted having experienced the blow as the entertainment sector was not considered essential when quarantine restrictions were implemented on workers. She related, “Hindi siya biro. Lalo na ‘yung mapagdaanan mo ‘yung malungkot ka. Ako nga, may kasama ako, may baby ako, na dapat nalilibang ako. Pero ‘pag ako na lang mag-isa at tulog na si Shiloh, medyo iba na ang pakiramdam ko eh. And sinasabi ko naman ‘yun kay Art (her husband actor Arthur Solinap) and lumabas kami sa ganitong project. Nakakatuwa ang response.”

Aside from a netizen’s comment, “Ang galing, sumasayaw ka pa pala!,” which Rochelle found funny, the most striking feedback for her so far is “Yes, laban lang, walang babawi! Respect.” She expressed amusement over the fact that what was just a running joke among Sexbomb dancers is now a relevant message for everyone. “In fairness sa mga pinagdaanan ko sa buhay ha, nagkakatugma-tugma ngayong lockdown.”

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One of the creative collaborators who made the video possible is media practitioner and the video director Tristan Cheng. Tristan’s background as a dancer-choreographer (and a self-confessed staunch supporter of the Sexbomb Dancers) has its contribution to the ease in executing the project. He said, “‘Nung binubuo namin yun, hindi sya mahirap buuin. Fini-feed pa lang niya sa akin, alam mo na eh because you know how it feels. Alam mo ‘yung pinagdadaanan hindi lang ng isang normal na mamamayang Pilipino kundi ng kapwa artists natin. So, hindi siya mahirap buuin. It’s just an application of how you feel, but through dance.

Director: Tristan Cheng

Hearts aligned, minds connected

Direk Tristan went on to share how easy it was to direct the music video because their minds connected. There was no need for detailed instructions. He shared, “‘Nung ginawa namin ‘yun, hindi nga ako nagbigay kay Ms. Rochelle ng ‘Kailangan ganito ha, ito yung acting mo.She was given the scenario. Anong mararamdaman mo, apply mo lang. Nag-roll lang kami and just kept rolling. ‘Yung acting niya dun was very organic. He has nothing but praises for the dancer-actress, “Hands down, super slow clap kay Ms. Rochelle.”

Giggling after complimented by her director, Rochelle returned the positive feedback by saying Tristan’s being a dancer gave him the know-how in managing the energy she needs during the shoot. “Ganun ‘yung mga dancer, bago pumasok sa stage, kailangan ‘yung-Woooh! (exaggerates energy level) ganun talaga ang energy mo. Alam n’ya kung paano niya ako huhugutin and nakikita niya agad ‘yung ‘Okay, nandun siya sa acting na ‘yun.’ Mabilis. Ganun namin siya ginawa. Everything, napaka-smooth.”

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When asked if she misses acting, Rochelle was quick to say, “Sobraaa.” (You can catch her in the currently airing re-run of 2016’s Kapuso fantaserye Encantadia nightly on GMA Telebabad.)

The core message

Dance is already a form of therapy for some people,” Direk Tristan said. What the now viral video is trying to convey is subject to its viewers’ interpretations but Rochelle captured the core message in her Instagram post last October:

Isang masayang awiting sabay-sabay nating kinanta at sinayaw 18 years ago. Isang awiting tumatak sa isip at puso natin noon. At hindi ko akalain na magiging sakto at napapanahon ngayon.

Hindi biro ang pinagdadaanan nating lahat. 

Walang katumbas na salita o damdamin ang hirap, sakit, at dusa na nararanasan natin dahil sa pandemic na ‘to.

Alam kong madali mang sabihin pero mahirap gawin, pero kailangan pa rin nating kumapit kahit nahihirapan, lumaban kahit walang kasiguruhan, at harapin ang mga dagok at pagsubok ng buhay.

Tanggapin po ninyo ang munti kong regalo para naman mapasaya, mapangiti, at maaliw ko kayo maskipano sa paraang alam ko at sa paraang minahal ninyo sa akin.

Sana po ay magustuhan ninyo.

Sa tulong ng Panginoong Maykapal, laban lang tayo sa sayaw ng buhay — walang susuko, walang babawi… mula noon hanggang ngayon…

Hanggang bukas.”

The dance content is also available on Rochelle Pangilinan’s Instagram account – HERE.

This was in collaboration with V-Roll Media Ventures, directed by Tristan Cheng and produced by Eboy Vinarao. 

Random video: EXCLUSIVE interview with the team