Cebu has always been in the forefront of sports development in the country and has contributed a number of athletes who have placed the Philippines in the map of world sports.
To name a few Cebuanos who have made the country proud are Flash Elorde and Dodie Boy Peñalosa for boxing and Julian Macoy and Manny Paner for basketball.
Slowly making the Philippines proud in international dancesport competitions is Dancesport Team Cebu City (DTCC) helmed by its director, Edward Hayco.
The team earned the respect of dancesport teams and judges in imperial Manila the hard way.
According to Hayco, who was among the few who first competed in the sport with his wife, Eleonor, they had to endure obviously rigged results before the medals were eventually rightfully awarded to them.
?We do not let that bother us. In fact, how many times have our team been taken advantage of. Other people asked us why we do not protest the results but we just tell them it doesn't bother us, if we don't make it this time, it?s okay. As long as we were able to compete. If that's how they play then we will try and try again,? Hayco said.
Team Cebu City did persevere until about four years ago in a national competition in Manila, they earned the respect of judges who awarded them 17 gold medals out of 24 and the rest of the seven silver medals.
?For me that was the team's crowning glory. When we won that number of gold medals, the team was made. People from Manila finally bowed to us,? Edward said.
This sport, which is seen as a potential gold mine for the Philippines, started as an accidental interest for the Haycos in 1991. It evolved into a hobby or what they call social dancing then eventually became competitive dancing or dancesport sometime in 1996.
?Edward was president of the rotary then in 1991. We hosted a district convention and one of the activities was the governor's ball. Lain sad kaayo nga ang president di kahibaw mosayaw so we had to learn how to dance,? Eleonor said.
From then on, the couple enjoyed social dancing or ballroom dancing. The transition came when the Haycos went to Japan in 1996 for a vacation. They went inside a fashionable dance hall in the heart of Tokyo and realized that they were dancing differently from the other couples on the dance floor.
?When we danced, we looked silly because everybody was dancing in what seemed for us to be in an international way. We asked ourselves why we were dancing differently from them,? Edward said.
Eleonor added, ?That experience in Japan became an eye opener for us. It made us realized that we had to learn that international way of dancing otherwise the Philippines will get left behind in terms of dancing.?
The couple went into serious training under British dancesports world champion Paul Bishop, who was based in Hong Kong. They specifically sought out Bishop to help them transition from social dancing to dancesport.
?At that time, dancesports in Cebu was still in the infancy stage. Not many in Cebu knew what dancesports was all about. Everybody was just into social dancing,? Edward said.
In training under Bishop, Eleonor relied on her grace and diligence, while Edward relied on his love for music, which gives him his sense of rhythm and good timing.
Edward was glee club president in a university in Manila during his college years, while Eleonor had four years of ballet training.
As part of the transition, the Haycos went to the United States to attend the Emerald Ball then to Las Vegas for a dance camp.
Because Eleonor was more passionate and diligent about dancesport, Edward, who was busy with the family business, had a hard time catching up.
The Haycos first competed in dancesports in Cebu City in 1999 and immediately bagged a gold medal.
The Haycos then continued competing along with a few others in national dancesports events in Manila oftentimes shouldering the group's expense themselves.
?Whenever we go to Manila, we go as a troupe. We call ourselves the team from Cebu although we were not formally organized yet,? Eleonor said.
Edward added ?although we go as a group and carried the name Team Cebu whenever we compete in Manila, we spent on our own.?
The group?s effort paid off when, in 2000, the Cebu City government took notice of their activities and achievements.
The Haycos got a call wherein they were asked to go to the Cebu City Hall.
There, they were informed that dancesport is being made as one of the priority sports of the city, making Dancesport Team Cebu City official.
Asked if he foresaw the team getting to where it is right now, raking in medals for the country in international events, and him becoming director of the team, Edward said he always believed in fate.
?I have faith. I believe in signs. When something is offered to you, do your best out of it. As for the start and growth of DTCC, we would also give a lot of credence to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña because he was the one who told us, ?so what if you have a gold medal, you give it back to the barangay (village),? Edward said.
The words of the mayor made the Haycos start an outreach program, the barangay workshops, wherein the team goes to the barangays and teach dancesport for free.
This is also the venue where they spot out kids with potential, who are picked out and made to join DTCC?s prime team.
These kids are further honed and fielded in national and international competitions as part of the team.
The Haycos said more than the medals that the team has bagged, the barangay workshops give meaning to their efforts.
Couples especially from the mountain barangays are the ones winning gold medals for DTCC.
?Na change na ilang lives. Imagine, now they are performers. They are now gold medalists. They are now scholars of their school kay gipangkuha sila sa school, walay bayad tuition because they represent the school in competitions and they win for them. So they're really getting a lot of benefit from being in the sport,? Eleonor said.
He said that before, it pained him especially when they had to shell out $100 as per hour fee for trainers like Bishop and Richard Morrissey of Australia, another world champion in the sport.
?But when I see the dance moves being taught to the team every weekend, mawala ang sakit,? Edward said.
?Usikan ta ba sa gasto sa atong knowledge nya gamay ra ang makabenefit, nya cge lang ta ug tabang ug add ug dance teachers pero di na sayang ang gasto especially kung ang dance moves matudlo na sa uban,? said Edward, adding that was how the spirit of volunteerism started with the team.
We tell them ?ayaw na ninyo usiki, wala moy utang kabubuton namo. You only pay us back by teaching others. We call it cascade from our head coach Loloi Rendon to the kids,? he added.
?We are very lucky that Rendon himself is also very dedicated in teaching others what he has learned,? Edward said.
Goal and visions
The Haycos said DTCC will continue training kids to represent Cebu in national competitions and the Philippines in international competitions.
Edward said they will start training them young so when dancesports will be included in the Olympics hopefully by 2016, we will already have a team ready to compete in the event.
?I want to make an Olympic winner coming from one of the Cebu City barangays and I believe we can [produce one],? Edward said.
Eleonor said that when kids start training when they are seven years old, one can just imagine how good they will become in the sport when they grow up.
?Imagine ang nakadaug sa Southeast Asian Games ni start siya when she was 14 years old. When she won, 18 years old na siya, that's only four years of training. Kaning seven years old, when she turns 18, she will have 14 years of training under her belt,? Eleonor said.
After the team finally got recognized in competitions in Manila, the Haycos decided to host competitions here in Cebu City, making sure to get judges from outside the country to eliminate issues about rigged results.
?The primary purpose for this was so that the barangay kids will have the chance to compete kay kung adto sa Manila, pila raman amo madala because of the expenses, plete, puy-anan, kaon,? Eleonor said.
She added that this is also what Mayor Osmeña liked because it would benefit a lot.
A very important goal for DTCC is to compete in the prestigious Black Pool Dance Festival in London.
The annual Black Pool Dance Festival is the Olympics of dancesport, wherein about 10,000 dancers all over the world will compete for one whole week starting from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. non-stop.
The event is named after the city where it is held. Black Pool is a city about two hours by train from London.
?Our vision is to make dancesport sa Sugbu one day become the Black Pool of Asia. We hope to attract about 5,000 dancesports athletes coming from all parts of Asia come to Cebu to join the event. But this is a development that will span 10 years,? Edward said.
He added, ?You need to plant the seed, it takes 20 to 30 years to grow.?