My father always talked about how he used to break dance and dance on TV when he was Filipino youth in the late 1970s. I never believed him because I didn’t see hip hop in him. However, after DJ Icy Ice came in and spoke to us, I realized that the older generation contributed on many levels opt build what is known as hip hop today. I decided to discuss Filipino hip hop with my father and I actually learned a lot:
The Philippine Hip Hop Scene broke loose in the early 80’s, which shortly followed the development of general hip hop which manifested in Bronx, New York in the late 70’s. The Philippines is known to have the first hip hope music scene in Asia. This is due to the theory of colonial narrative, which socially engineered the colonized to be like the colonizer. In this case, the Philippines mimic any fad or craze that America creates.
With the popularity of the Electric Boogaloo (which is funk dance that involves popping and fluid motions within the legs and arms) immerging, the Filipinos were split during the era of disco because of the advent of Saturday Night Fever. One half of the spectrum was into hip hop& popping while the other was still into disco. The hip hop scene truly took form in the Philippines when early 80’s TV dance shows introduced popping & locking through young Filipino Americans (or balikbayan). The early 80’s brought new movies like Breakin and Krush Grove, which gave rise to the phenomena of dance crews. Never moves copied from the street of New York made it to the islands. Th3ese moves included the Helicopter, Crazy Legs, Moon Walks, Sideway Moon Walks, the Robot and Waving. The popularity of Disco enhanced the Hip Hop craze, however instead of dancing to the music of Bee Gees, Hip Hop dancers danced to ht beat of Earth Wind & Fire and the Commodores. The Disco scene was mixed in with Hip Hop music and Popping became a craze in the early 80’s (from 1982 to 1984). Dance Crews started around 1983 when each group appeared on TV Variety shows with the popularity of Boy Crew (a group of 5-7 teenage dancers). Around 1984 acrobatics were incorporated with popping, starting the B-Boy craze. In America, Filipino-Americans on the West Coast in Southern and Northern California became involved in the hip hop scene through DJing. A Filipino party scene developed through the rise of Filipino DJ crews. Rival DJ crews would “battle” each other and one-up each other by showcasing superior equipment.
Till this day, Filipino Americans continue to influence the world of hip hop through break dancing and popping. The majority of the dancers who compete and win MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew are Filipino Americans. Hip Hop is music culture that Filipinos can excel in and also leave their mark on and although it started in the late 70’s, Filipino hip hope continues to live on and grow.
– Alexander Nubla