Today we celebrate the centenary of the birth our beloved Founder and Artistic Director, the late Dr. Paz-Cielo A Belmonte (1916-2013), or Mommy Bel as she was fondly known.
As a dancer, dancer researcher, educator, and choreographer, Mommy Bel was at the forefront of promoting Philippine culture through her devotion to the cause of folk dance.
It was through her teaching, advocacy work, and performance, that she facilitated the growth of folk dance awareness among Filipinos and foreigners alike. Her impressive record as a dance researcher and dance educator produced a generation of performers and teachers who were all touched by her dynamic vision and her deep understanding of the tradition of Philippine dance.
The Philippine Baranggay Folk Dance Troupe, which she founded, has advanced Filipino culture and identity by inspiring the formation of similar dance troupes all over the country and even the world, and created of an admirable image of the Filipino nation through its meritorious dance performances across the world.
As a young dancer, she was the star performer in Francisca Reyes Aquino’s University of the Philippines Folk-Song and Dance Troupe from 1933-39, and was a choreographer in the popular vaudeville production at the State Theater and Avenue Theater during the war. Dr. Paz Cielo Angeles-Belmonte was a recipient of a number of national and international awards, for her outstanding contributions to the advancement of Philippine culture especially in the field of dance.
Most prominent are the Republic of the Philippines Presidential Medal of Merit; the City of Manila’s Fourth Centennial Award. “Patnubay ng Kalinangan sa Sayaw”, Gawad CCP para sa Sining; Parangal Sentenyal sa Sining at Kultura; Testimonial Plaque to the “Hall of Fame” by the Philippine Normal University for the signal honor she brought to the country and to the university in particular; citation from the University of the hilippines,department of Physical Education for the outstanding achievement on culture particularly in dance. Her other notable awards are plaque from ICHPER (International Council in Health, Physical Education and Recreation) for having brought and ably directed the World’s Congress in Manila as Director General of the Congress; and the First Recipient of the “Dance in Education Award” of the Philippines, awarded in June 1987.
In recent years she was awarded the outstanding Alumna of the University of the Philippines in the field of Philippine Folk Dance by the University of the Philippines Alumni Association and the “Gintong Bai Award” for her outstanding contribution to the development and preservation of Philippine Arts, awarded last July 7, 2005 by PAMA-AS.