Lion dance is a sports activity integrated with martial arts, dancing and music. It is commonly exhibited in the streets during Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival. But it is not only during these times that lion dancing is performed. Most Chinese (and Filipino) business owners also invite lion dance troupes to sashay in the opening of their new stores and establishments for blessings and for scaring the evil spirits away. Usually, there is only a single lion dance group that can be seen performing in one event; rarely do we witness several ensembles in one.

Yesterday we didn’t have to look far for more, as we attended the 2nd Philippine King of Lion Dance championship 第二屆菲律賓舞獅之王錦標賽. The event was held at the ground floor of Robinsons Otis, Manila from 2PM to 5PM. Admission was for free.

Sponsors comprised of Robinsons Otis, Ariel Javelosa Photography and Video, IBC 13 Chinatown TV, Mr. Mario Tan 陳德通 King Bee Chinese Food, Deutsche Motogerate Inc., Manila Divisoria Lions Club, Shine Gaz, Coach Shirt and Jeans and 菲律濱延陵吳氏宗親總會.

So another record in the world of lion dancing was made in history. Now I just feel compelled to write about it. Actually, I was one of the participants… Me, a lion?

Not quite; I was one of the emcees.

The Judges and the Rules

As always, in any competition, perspective is tricky player. So, strict rules were implemented for every judge to follow.

Chief judge was the president of Philippine Dragon and Lion Union himself, Shifu Arnold Buenviaje, who happens to also be my shifu in wushu.

Timer judges were Shifu Jeffrey Lock and Shifu Manuel Sy, who had to oversee the duration of every performance. Time limit was set at a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 13 minutes. Deductions were given for any fraction of a minute that was over or under the time limit.

The panel of scoring judges was composed of Shifu Victor Mapa, Shifu Gilbert Tan, Shifu Christian Sheldon Buenviaje, Shifu Benjamin Villaran, Shifu Leo Cheng, and Shifu Kenneth Sy. They had to base their judgment on the five aspects, which total to 10 points:
1. The outer look of the lion, the costume, the etiquette, the design of the props, the arrangement of routine (low and high) ~ 1 point
2. The coordination of the head and tail, stance, and footwork ~ 1 point
3. Lion and Music coordination ~ 2 points
4. Shape performance ~ 3 points; and
5. Difficulty ~ 3 points.

The total score was deducted from 0.1 to 1, depending on the number of mistakes the lion will committed during the routine.

In charge of tabulating the scores from the judges were Cheri Ladd Lu, Anne Tan, and Abigail dela Paz. Their role was to compute for the final net score, disregarding the highest and the lowest scores and only taking the average of the remaining three scores.

Special Guests

Special guests were also present. Just to name-drop a dash, they included Mr. Tan She Ling 黃福清先生, President of Wushu Federation Philippines 菲律賓武術協會理事長; Mr. Julian Camacho 吳華彬先生, Treasurer of Philippine Olympic Committee 菲律賓奧林匹克委員會財政主任; Mr. Mario Tan 陳德通先生, Chairman of Ming Sheng Wushu Association 明勝武術會董事長; and Mr. Alfred Fernandez, Executive Director of Chi Ching Wushu Association 菲華志清學會武術社.

The King of Lion Dance Competition Proper

After the contestants had gone oath-swearing, the audience broke into cheers and applause as Mr. Julan Camacho banged the gong to officiate the start of the competition.

First team to compete was Mantis Wushu Philippines 明忠螳螂武術會 (light yellow lion) with members:
Team Leader: Anne Tan
Head: Psylyx Paras
Tail: Alfon Ang
Drummer: Scott So
Cymbals: Ashlyn Mae Tanojera
Cymbals: Leslie Guerrera
Gong: Jesse Yap

Second team was Chi Ching Wushu Association 菲華志清學會武術社 (violet lion) with members:
Team Leader: Alfred Fernandez
Head: Erwin Loo
Tail: Mark Co Reyes
Drummer: Matthew Laurenaria
Cymbal: Jo Danielle Advincula
Cymbal: Erica Chua
Gong: Reylwin Ngan-Oy Cana

Third team was Pagoda Philippines Athletic Association Team A 菲律濱寶塔體育會A 隊 (orange lion) with members:
Team Leader: Benjamin Villaran
Head: Ervin Zerna
Tail: Nino Jorge Amarille
Drummer: Johannes Cirilo
Cymbal: Jackylyn Laurence Medina
Cymbal: Felix Salvador
Gong: Kimbelyn Joy Palisoc

Fourth team was Sukuang Wushu Center  曙光武術中心 (green lion) which was made of up members:
Team Leader: Christian Sheldon Buenviaje
Head: Reylwin Ngan-Oy Cana
Tail: Alvin Thompson Tan
Drummer: Matthew Laurenaria
Cymbal: Marigold Go
Cymbal: Jo Danielle Mei Advincula
Gong: Devin Tan

Fifth team was the Lotus Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe (pink lion) which had the following members:
Team Leader: Cheri Evangelista
Head: Joseph Dal Jr.
Tail: Rhyan Ang Sy
Drummer: Jackylyn Laurence Medina
Cymbal: Johannes Cirilo
Cymbal: Felix Salvador
Gong: Kimberlyn Joy Palisoc

And last but not least was the sixth team, Ming Sheng Wushu Association 明勝武術隊 (yellow gold lion), with members:
Team Leader: Mario Tan
Head: Scott So
Tail: Charles Ivan Po
Drummer: Derwin Tan
Cymbal: Leslie Guerrera
Cymbal: Jessa Aparejedo
Gong: Jesse Yap

As you may have noticed, there were some members who took part in more than one group and joined in the musical accompaniment. This is because there had been recent manpower problems pertaining to the pullout of teams. Hence, the organizer allowed the borrowing of troupe members to ensure the continuity of the competition.

Visually Striking Lion Dance

“Wow” is that one word that sums up the performances of all contenders. Made up of two people forming the head and the tail, each of the lions jumped up the chairs and tables and did wonderful stunts and stances to please the judges and audiences.

Being cloaked inside a heavy garment while shivering in cold out of nervousness was a challenge in itself. Working their way from the initial signaling (four clacks) of the drums to the end and dancing without falling to the ground was another feat. Each team must complete their routine and remain in sync with the rhythm of the drum, cymbals and gong.

Each lion performed creative and original choreography, with each starting off with a highly dynamic performance embarking on a journey to find the cheng (a flower). For spending two months to train for this competition, it must have taken them sheer determination and strong passion to showcase the art of lion dancing.

Thankfully, no one got badly injured, although there was one team which accidentally fell from the platforms. Still, the show must go on; they continued and finished their presentation despite knowing that they’ve lost significant marks already. The addiction to the thrill of the challenge may have also contributed a lot to power up their persistence and confidence. Thanks to Soler First Aid team volunteers, their injuries had properly been taken care of afterwards.

In essence, regardless of how complicated the sequences of kick after high kick after high kick went, they had to put everything under control. Rightfully, I commend them for managing to master this juggling act. My heart was pounding in every performance, as I could feel both their stress and pressure throughout. This was apart from me together with my co-emcee, Janet Tiu—thinking what ad-libs we’d throw in our next lines.

Granting of Certificates and Awarding Ceremony

While waiting for the score of the final team to be out, Mr. Mario Tan gave out the certificates to participants of the competition. I was surprised to also have one.

The awarding ceremony followed suit. Third-runner up was Chi Ching Wushu Association; second-runner up was Lotus Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe; first-runner up was Sukuang Wushu Center; and the [returning] champion was Ming Sheng Wushu Association.


Photo credit: Camille Po

Congratulations to all winners!

Bravo to the participants, for the entertainment and inspiration you have given to the next year’s competition ahead.


Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

20 Responses

  1. Ephramar

    I have also seen like this on Bacolaodiat. Dancing Lions are really fun to watch. Especially when they try to mimic the real lion through their stunts and routines.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I don’t know about Bacolaodiat. There are different variations of lion dancing. but they can be broadly categorised into two styles, Northern (北獅) and Southern (南獅). The northern dance is acrobatic and is mainly performed as entertainment, while the southern dance is more symbolic. It is usually performed as a ceremony to scare away evil spirits and to summon good luck and fortune.

  2. Dianne Salonga (@curlydianne)

    Congratulations to the winner. This kind of dance is great for entertaining children! Dragon dance belief to be lucky to newly open restaurants / business, etc . I love their costumes (people behind the dragon) and it’s dance moves

  3. Jonas Labagala

    If there’s a lion dance contest here in Davao, I will definitely watch!

    lion dance is not an easy dance and I’ve seen some accidentally fell while jumping, others injured..
    It’s nerve wracking indeed. Whew! 😀

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yes, it’s really a hard sports/dance! Not only will you get perspired doing the moves and making sure that your partner’s steps always aligned to yours, but you’re also clad in thick and heavy costumes as a lion. 😛

  4. jane

    I love watching lion dance I lived in singapore for 4 years so i have lots of videos and photos of this kind of dance! xx

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Kids are afraid of the lions though, thinking that they’re some kind of a monster. They also cover their ears! Haha. As they grow up, they also become excited seeing the dances and begin appreciating the beats of the drum.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      There are other places in the country where lion dancing is performed during CNY but I’m not sure where those are because I’m mostly “caging” up myself within our home vicinity on those dates. 😀 Holidays = family days.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Lion dancing in Quiapo are the usual marches and not the real presentation that’s full of extravaganza. You should watch one of our performances next time. 😀

  5. Alwin

    Lion dances are fun to watch, and I’m sure this is more awesome in a competition. Do you have videos of this event? Would be interesting 🙂

  6. Thinh

    Hi there, great article.
    do you know if foreign team could join the event or not?

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It depends on the event mechanics. If you are interested though, you may send me a message via contact form and I’ll forward your question/s to organizers of our future events. Thanks 🙂


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