'NTERESTED in meeting Eng lish Young Christian Workers, and other young Catholic Actionists, ate most of the 44 teenage Philippine dancers now appearing at the Palace Theatre, London, in a programme of folk-dances from their country.
One of them, Christina Mathis, was "Miss Philippines, 1959". She refused to come to London for the final line-up of beauty queens, because she does not like parading in a swim-suit.
Spanish names. Oriental features, softly-spoken English, characterise them. "Thank God for a Spanish colonisation that lasted over 300 years", said one of them, "we are, as the result, the only Catholic country in the Far East". The English they speak they owe to the Americans, who were in possession there for SO years.
These teenagers are not professional actors and actresses. They are for the most part sons and daughters of well-to-do people in profession and business, who have been chosen by the Government to carry out a "cultural tour" of Britain.
Being undergraduates, and hoping in their turn to enter professional life, they are staunchly Catholic, and thus many of them are engaged in an apostolate which is suited to conditions back home.
Religion is not taught in Philippine public schools. and it is left to these young people to give religious instruction, after school hours, to the younger students in such schools, which they do after enrolling in an organisation controlled by Church authority.
* Their task is to prepare children for First Communion and Confirmation.
Where difficult adolescents are concerned, so 20-year-old Antonio Gana explained to me, "then we have to use subtler methods. How to keep them in the Church? Well, we organise socials, games and outings for them, all under Cath
olic auspices. They meet their boy-friends and girl-friends there. It works out in the long run, but, of course, we do find one or two who have drunk in some Communist ideas".
Some of these Catholic Actionists—or catechists, to give them their proper definition—are seen in this picture of a ritual dance, called Dubso. Many of the
dances are of Asiatic origin. The Manobo tribe, which inhabits the island of Mindanao, dance this sequence as an act of thanksgiving to God, believing that their gratitude ascends in the smoke of the fire. Maribel Carag, seen kneeling next to the priestess, is an active member of her particular catechist group in Manila, and has had experience as a university editor.