The Glory of the Shadows

In My Eyes: By Edward Antonio

They were just mere runner-ups in Pilipinas Got Talent (PGT).

PGT judges (and texters) merely dismissed them as good only for tourism.

But Asia’s Got Talent (AGT) judges and world texters thought them otherwise. They are world campaigners opening the eyes of people to the deadly effects of global warming or climate change and environmental abuse. Their presentations are of world value. They use their talents to start a crusade using shadows, even making some of the judges cry in admiration.

They are the members of El Gamma Penumbra.

It means “the penumbra range.”

Penumbra is a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light, which justifies the group’s style of performance.

El Gamma Penumbra, Gerphil Geraldine Flores, Gwyneth Dorado, and the Junior New System brought pride to the country as they performed their finest pieces for the Asia’s Got Talent (AGT) grand finals.

The team members from Tanauan City, Batangas decided to join AGT for the reason that they wanted to experience the international TV stage and show to the world what they can do as performers. El Gamma Penumbra shifted from being a hip-hop dance group to a shadow play group to get more attention because of the uniqueness of their acts.

Rowell Amano, a foremost group member, said their shadow play was merely an accident that has now brought them international fame.

The members also said it was extremely hard for the group to rehearse their acts when they initially lacked resources and proper training. The group takes pride on how they made their way up from practicing in a basketball court and only using tarpaulin and halogen lamps.

That simple dream led them to realize that they now have an opportunity to honor the Philippines and to make the Filipinos proud.

Judge Anggun pressed her Golden Buzzer for El Gamma Penumbra, which automatically advanced them to the competition’s semi-finals.

Their shadow play final performance featuring the song “Colors of the Wind” was a touching tribute to Mother Nature. Judge Anggun was moved to tears by the performance. El Gamma Penumbra got the world’s attention, not only for their talent, but also for the social relevance of their acts.

An early crowd favorite, the members of El Gamma Penumbra, dance teachers aged 22 to 40, looked poised to win the Asia-wide competition, as praise for the group was unanimous among the judges: Grammy-winning composer-producer David Foster, Indonesian pop star Anggun, ex-Spice Girl Melanie C, and actor-singer Van Ness Wu.

El Gamma Penumbra got the “golden buzzer” twice and advanced to the semifinals and the grand finals, respectively, by their act that moved the judges.

Forming themselves into shadows that morphed into figures covering subjects ranging from environmental and social issues to lighter, more carefree fare, the group shadow-shifted to songs by Vanessa Williams and other foreign pop artists. With unfailing teamwork and impressive precision, El Gamma Penumbra members became the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House, a carabao, warring soldiers, a deadly flood and Mother Nature herself, among others.

Any Filipino would be moved to tears of such grand performances, fellas.

I, myself, raised my hand in victory, tears in my eyes, for the feat, making me as proud as other Filipinos here and around the world.

Brant Miller of Brown University in Rhode Islands, USA said of the group: “I didn’t know about your existence thirty minutes ago, then my girlfriend in Taiwan sent me the link to your tribute to Mother Nature. I cried throughout the entire performance. This is the most moving, beautiful, powerful thing I have ever seen.

As I looked at your other performances, the things you say and represent, and the creativity which infuse your performances all make me wish I were young enough to come join your group! There is no more noble or worthwhile life than the kind you are all living! You give hope and inspiration to me for the future of humanity and our beautiful world and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your work, your hearts, your unity and devotion. I hope one day I can see you in person.

And I hope countless numbers of people will see your performances. I will be sharing your Mother Nature performance with everyone! Thank you!”

Joseph Aquino says it best: “I felt a lump in my throat and I can’t breathe. The country and the people I love have gone through a lot. And with faith in the power above and the hope that tomorrow will be a better day, we keep the smile and the glow in our hearts, I will always be proud of you, my fellow Filipinos and all Asians too.”

I feel the same, fellas.

So proud of being a Filipino.#