Soloist with The National Ballet of Canada (1991-2008)
You’re not obligated to read it. I have it here for those who wants to know where I came from, what my experiences were and what lead me to the path I’m in.
I loved dancing around when I was growing up in Iloilo City on an island called Panay. It is in the central south part of the Philippines. My family was into music, my grandfather played the violin, my father played bass and my mother played the piano and had taken some ballet classes when she was young. I wasn’t doing so well in school in Grade 2, so my mother enrolled me in a ballet school. Apparently the discipline, coordination and concentration needed in ballet would help me in my studies, which it did. I enjoyed going to ballet classes and continued until I finished elementary school. I was given a scholarship to attend The Philippine High School for the Arts which was on the northern part and far from home. It was only on my 3rd year high school when I felt the passion for the art form. I decided then that this is what I would like to do as a career. After graduating, I apprenticed with Ballet Philippines and became a Professional Ballet Dancer after a year.
My curiosity to learn more about classical ballet lead my search to Toronto where I have an aunt. I attended the National Ballet School’s post graduate summer program, learnt more about ballet and improved my ballet technique. I was ready to return to the Philippines when NBS director Mavis Staines invited me to continue my studies in the Fall of 1990. I did not intend to stay in Canada but my journey ahead made Toronto my home. I was given an apprenticeship by then Artistic Director Reid Anderson halfway through the school year (January 1991.) Through my first year of apprenticeship I got pregnant, continued to perform until I was 7 months. After I had my beautiful daughter Monica, I returned back to dancing to continuing my apprenticeship for a few months. Then, I was offered a corp de ballet contract and became a full fledge company member of The National Ballet of Canada.
Being a single mother with a career that is not a 9-5 schedule on a desk but physically challenging the full capacity of the body in rehearsals, performances and touring, I started having back pain. The company physiotherapist suggested Pilates to help me manage and support my core musculature. Through my injuries, I started learning more about the human body starting with my own. This is when I started my curious journey about the body and how it moves. Life moved on, my dancing was recognized by James Kudelka Artistic Director during the middle part of my career and promoted me to second soloist (2001.)
Fast forward to 2005. My father had passed away in the beginning of this year, then the 7 year relationship I had ended. One day, mid-year I landed from a big jump and found myself on the floor without any recollection of how I got there. I had torn the ACL in my right knee and went into surgery for reconstruction of this ligament. You know when they say it happens in 3s... that happened to me. A realization that I had to address a need of guidance from something bigger lead me to Buddhist meditations. I have been fascinated with Buddhist teachings and found Diamond Way Buddhism and Lama Ole Nydhal. Through meditating and practicing the teachings as best that I can, I found a sense of calm and groundedness.
Before I retired from performing with the NBOC in 2008, I attended the Fletcher Pilates® comprehensive teacher training program. I enjoyed the movement vocabulary of Ron Fletcher. I felt that it helped me with my rehabilitation to return to dance 10 months post surgery. When I told Karen Kain Artistic Director of my intention to retire, she offered me a position at the company as the Resident Pilates Teacher. I’ve been working with the dancers ever since. I met my now husband who is passionate about the human body but from a manual therapy perspective. His knowledge of anatomy inspired me to know and learn more about it. I also felt that there was more in movement and the moving anatomy than what I was learning and practicing in Pilates.
This curiosity for understanding and comprehending the human movement drove me to continuing education studies with Thomas Myers, James Earls, Dr. Robert Schliep and Divo Mueller, exploring the Fascial System. Trent McEntire’s Neuro-Movement approach gave more insight into the neuroplasticity of the brain and the connection it has to influencing changes in movement.
I felt that something is still amiss. I read Gary Ward’s book “What The Foot?” and attended his immersion course to learn about Anatomy In Motion™ and use the Flow Motion Model™ as the tool to truly comprehend the most basic human movement which is gait. This was when I knew I found what I’ve been looking for. AiM™ changed my life and the individuals I’m working with. I love the philosophy of investigating and trusting that the body has the answers. It's always giving out clues. All I have to do is be curious and observe and allow the body in front to lead me to where the problem lies so I can help facilitate the movement it needs to find its centre.
As I look back, my journey has always been getting connected and reconnecting to myself, whether it’s physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I’m seeing this quite clearly now. Why I am excited to wake up each day is to help and assist each individual I work with to reconnect with themselves through movement and bodywork. I know how it feels not to be able to do what you love because of stiffness, weakness and pain. Through practicing self awareness physically, mentally and emotionally, and taking ownership of oneself, I believe one will gain resilience and better quality of life.
My journey doesn’t stop here. I graduated as an Integrative Registered Health Coach (2019). I completed my certification for Thai Massage and acquired a Licensed Holistic Practitioner from the City of Toronto (2019). I started studying a form of scar tissue work in 2020 and competed my case studies. I am now a certified MSTR® - McLoughlin Scar Tissue Release (March 2021) Practitioner.
As I turned 50 years old in 2020 and contemplated on how I want to serve and benefit the people I'm working with to help with the ease and fluidity of their movement in the next decade of my life, this feeling of belonging which is not new kept coming up to mind. If I summarize everything that I've been practicing so far, I can say that I belong under the umbrella of health care profession. After researching who is under the regulated health profession and considering that I already have a full-time practice, I choose to go back to school/college and study massage therapy to formalize my education with the intention to become a regulated health care professional (in January 2021).
Moving forward to 2023, I completed my massage therapy education, graduated with distinction and received an outstanding academic achievement award, passed all the licensing exams and acquired the designation of a Registered Massage Therapist.