Tacloban remembers cultural icon Jess De Paz

TACLOBAN. Messages of grief and condolences continued to pour on social media over the sudden death of cultural icon Jesus "Jess" De Paz, the founder of the world-renowned Leyte Dance Theater. (Photo grabbed from Jess De Paz's Facebook)

THE passing of Jesus “Jess” De Paz has left a great void which will be difficult to fill in terms of world-class dance performance and choreography in Tacloban City and elsewhere in Eastern Visayas.

“We will always remember his legacy and celebrate his extraordinary life devoted to the arts. The City Government of Tacloban extends its deepest condolences to the bereaved family,” said Mayor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez.

De Paz, who served as Leyte Dance Theater’s artistic director, “devoted his life and career in introducing Waray folk songs and dances to both local and international audience.”

“Stories of triumph and tragedy of Taclobanons were told through his music and dance,” the mayor said in a statement.

During the 10th “Sangyaw Awards,” the local government of Tacloban recognized the dance troupe founded by De Paz for the honor it gives to the City.

“Sir Jess has brought so much honor and pride not only to our city and province but to the whole country as well. His dance troupe’s performances abroad were always well-received and warmly applauded for showcasing our rich Filipino culture and heritage,” said Tacloban Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin.

“Jess de Paz was more than a cultural icon. He was a visionary who saw the potential in others and the greatness in the culture that binds together the people of our region. His achievements especially that with the Leyte Dance Theatre account him as one of the pillars of our local culture, not only by preserving it but by celebrating it as a living and vibrant testament to who we are as a people. He may be lost to this life, but I am sure he will live on in his works and with the people whose lives he has touched,” added Philip Jude Acidre of Tingog Sinirangan partylist in Eastern Visayas.

Apple Anido Alagon, the president of the Rotary Club of Ormoc Bay, also recalled the talent and professionalism of De Paz to his student dancers and scholars.

“I was six years old when I first stepped into your ballet studio anxious and scared because that was my first official dance training as a kid. You changed all those by showing me your passion for dancing. And every time I changed into my leotards, tights and ballet shoes, I always looked forward to learning a new ballet position, wanting to execute those pliés and jetés right even if it meant I’d slip many times over to finally get it.

“Ballet was my first dance and it paved the way for me to transition to many dances I loved as gracefully as if I’m still dancing ballet.

“Thanks, Sir Jess de Paz for being my first teacher who taught me so many things at such a young age. I know you are dancing your way, sharing your undeniable talent to those who wish to know it. Till we meet again,” Alagon wrote.

Rey Dacul, a former university student of De Paz now working in the United States, called De Paz “the real, true artist and ambassador of our country in the Field of Dance around the World.”

“You have touched many lives for the better by giving great opportunities. You took leadership to provide entertainment for all and appreciate dance as one of the arts,” Dacul said.

De Paz, who died on September 28 after battling lung cancer, was at the forefront in showcasing the socio-cultural features of the region and the Philippines in dances through his renowned Leyte Dance Theater. He was 71.


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