Edna Laurente Faral,
A Pride of the Aklanons in Tampa, Florida, USA
Melchor F. Cichon
Her passion has always been folk dancing.
Edna or SunflowR among her cybermates migrated to Florida, USA in 2001 immediately after her husband was hired by an American company in the states. She did not know that when she settled in Florida she would be a member of its famous dance troupes.
“I like to dance”, she said, “because it reflects my personality. Dancing is my inner feeling, my desire and my love. The moment I dance I'm lost in my own small world. Besides, I'm promoting our very own culture to every Filipino I encountered each time I perform. I tell them through dancing that we Filipinos have a beautiful and rich culture. Through my dance, I am encouraging our kababayan in the United States to revisit the Philippines.”
Edna started dancing at the age of seven, while in grade one and all throughout her elementary years in Batan, Aklan, her birthplace. Her interest in dancing was greatly influenced when she watched the dancers of the Bayanihan Dance Troupe and the Barangay Dance Troupe, especially because two of her fellow townmates were members of the latter dance troupe. She would always remember Ms. Nelida Cortes Abella, Nang Bebot to them, who trained them the basic to complicated steps of folkdancing.
She told herself: “it feels great to belong to those groups,” meaning the Bayanihan Dance Troupe and the Barangay Dance Troupe..”
While in the elementary grades, she was among those selected pupils to dance during intermission numbers on the programs of the school. At times she would perform during big events in their town like fiesta.
During her high school days, she joined the school's dance troupe. They had big shows before like "Dance Potpourri" in their town social hall. They would sometimes represent their school in the provincial event held in Kalibo, the capital of Aklan.
She took her high school at Kalantiaw Institute, Batan, Aklan.
Her passion in dancing reached its height when she joined the Florida-based Philippine Performing Arts Company (PPAC) and the Indak Pambata, also in Florida, USA.
After her husband, Conrad Faral of Tinga Itaas, Batangas City, came to the United States in June 2001, to work in an American company, Edna and their son, Concon, followed him.
Luckily, Conrad knows Mr. Rudy Curioso and Ms. Bing Curioso. Ms. Curioso is a choreographer of Indak Pambata and a member of the Tampa, Florida based Philippine Performing Arts Company, Inc. After learning that Edna and her son, Concon, are folk dancers, Bing asked them to join Indak Pambata. That started her life as a dancer in the states.
Later on, she was cast in some dances of Philippine Performing Arts Company, Inc. by Mr. Joey Omila, the choreographer of that group. Mr. Joey Omila is a former member of the well known Bayanihan Dance Troupe.
When Edna was asked what particular dance she likes to perform, she says: Igorot dances. She specially mentioned Banga and the Kalinga Festival Dance.
Since then, Edna has danced in the following festivals:
PHILFEST 2002, PCFI Festival Grounds, Tampa, Florida
PHILFEST 2003, PCFI Festival Grounds, Tampa, Florida
BARRIO FIESTA, Tampa, Florida
INDEPENDENCE DAY, Bayanihan Arts Center, Tampa, Florida
MUSIKONG KAWAYAN IN CONCERT, Bayanihan Arts Center, Tampa, Florida
SAMPAGUITA BALL, Bayanihan Arts Center, Tampa, Florida
PHILFEST 2004, PCFI Festival Grounds, Tampa, Florida
ASIAFEST 2004, Cotanchobee Park, Downtown Tampa, Florida
ASIAN PACIFIC FESTIVAL, F. Burton Smith Regional Park, Cocoa, Florida
FLORIDA FOLK FESTIVAL, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs, Florida
PAGDIRIWANG: MUSIKONG KAWAYAN IN CONCERT, Bayanihan Arts Center, Tampa, Florida
23rd ANNUAL MAHARLIKA NIGHT, Cathedral of Jesus of Nazareth, Tampa, Florida
PHIL-AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF TAMPA, CHRISTMAS PARTY, Cathedral of Jesus of Nazareth, Tampa, Florida
PASKO, Bayanihan Arts Center, Tampa, Florida
PHILFEST 2005, PCFI Festival Grounds, Tampa, Florida
ASIAFEST 2005, Cotanchobee Park, Downtown Tampa, Florida
2005 TAMPA BAY FEDERAL AGENCIE'S 6TH ANNUAL UNITY FESTIVAL, Ashley Plaza Hotel, Tampa, Florida
FLORIDA FOLK FESTIVAL, Stephen Foster Folk Culture State Park, White Springs, Florida.
25th JUBILEE CELEBRATION FOR FATHER PROUX, Nativity Church, Brandon, Florida.
As a dancer, her choreographer, Ms. Aurora Curioso, has all praises of Edna.
Ms. Curioso says it all in her email to Edna:
“My dear Edna, siyempre naman - what can I say. You are a fast learner, you pick up right away. You remember your sequence, you help the others who are slow, you are a big support backstage and a great dancer on stage. Ano pa ba. One thing I know, if you do not deserve to be on stage and be one of my folk dancers, I will be the first to pull you out of there and tell you on your face, hoy, masaya ka. But that is not the case. As a matter of fact, you are graceful and have that pleasant smiling face which gives joy and delight to the audience.
Dancing is not the only passion of Edna.
She is also a haiku poet.
Here are three of her haiku:
beneath my strength
across the horizon
sunlight waves goodbye
to embrace tomorrow
sunset in Venice –
we kiss to fulfill
Edna has been dancing in Tampa, Florida but she wishes that she could go home to the Philippines and perform together with the Philippine Performing Arts Company, Inc. and at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Florida, USA.
Aside from being a folk dancer and a poet, Edna also works as a volunteer at St. Stephen Catholic Church for its Meals on Wheels civic project. She helps give free foods to the elderly.
Edna also works as a volunteer at Hands On Tampa Bay (HOT), a volunteer program of the United Way of Tampa Bay . Here she sorts donated food at local food bank.