Son of a beat

Ralph Mendoza (The Philippine Star) - October 4, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - These days, all eyes are on beat boy prodigy Allen Anas. Except it’s hard to literally keep your eyes on his fancy footwork — he’s that fast.

At only 12 years old, Allen is set to become the first-ever competitor to represent the Philippines at this year’s Red Bull BC One Asia Pacific Finals in Japan on Oct. 12. It’s the world’s largest and most prestigious one-on-one b-boy competition, and Allen is making history as the youngest person ever to compete in it. If he wins the regional finals, he’ll go on to represent the Philippines in Korea at the World Championships.

“Sobrang saya ko kasi sa akin nakasalalay ang Pilipinas kaya gagalingan ko talaga para sumikat na rin ang b-boy sa Pilipinas,” says the up-and-comer from Las Piñas.“Dito kasi ‘di suportado, parang balewala lang, ‘di tulad sa ibang bansa.”

Hopefully, the story unfolds according to plan. Right now, Allen is busy rehearsing his sequences, hand hops, and spins for about “four to six,” as he vaguely puts it. “Four to six p.m.?” I ask. “No,” corrects Allen, “four to six hours. I practice at home or in the church with our breakdance ministry.”

His story goes back eight years when he was just four years old. “I learned dancing from my older brother Arthur,” recalls Allen in Tagalog, “I was four years old when I saw the older guys dancing and I thought it was just a game.” His brother saw warp-speed skills in him and decided to teach Allen the ways of the beat boy (b-boy for short), to which they both owe their clean living, away from the troubles of the street.

“I try to inspire by showing them how much I sacrifice my time for my passion,” says the 25-year-old Arthur in Tagalog, “They see my discipline and the parties I skip, and I guess the hard work pays off.”

Many players and prayers later, Allen found himself winning a number of local b-boy competitions, which earned him international recognition in the form of being cast as the main protagonist in Rudimental’s music video featuring Alex Clare and John Newman, Not Giving In, which has since received close to 13 million views on YouTube. This year, TV5 and Gandang Gabi Vice have all bitten the b-boy bait, with more to come from TV Patrol, Sports Unlimited and Lifestyle Network.

But despite all that, Allen says he still manages to find time to study before or after training. “After b-boy, pahinga lang ng konti tapos gigising ng 4 a.m. tapos aalis na ng 5,” he says of his routine.

His days are harder than most of ours, but when it comes to inspiration, Allen knows he’s getting it from the source of all sources. “Nakakatulong yung faith ko kasi tulad ng sa T.H.E. Grind (a local b-boy contest created by Red Bull in partnership with the Philippine All Stars), umasa lang ako kay Lord,” he remembers, “Kasi battle nung Sunday, tapos Monday, petiks lang ako noon. Stretching lang. Kinabukasan, nag-battle ako para sa Taiwan tapos ‘di ko alam na mananalo pala ako noon. Kapag wala si Lord, para saan pa kaya yung lakas mo?”

Now that he’s less than three weeks away from flying to Fukuoka, Japan, he’s ready, deadly and — hold on — not intimidated? “Actually, ‘di ako natatakot sa mga kalaban ko sa Japan kasi lahat ng kinakalaban ko dito sa Philippines, matatanda na,” adds a smiling Allen, who still keeps it humble when fans admire his dancing on TV. “Sa mga fans, I just say thank you and God bless.”

Allen may have a long way to go in terms of getting through his teen years, but you can say his early success is a real inspiration to people of all ages  — lamp posts in the dimly lit world of unmotivated kids whose jadedness can never compare. At his age, Allen already dreams of becoming a b-boy teacher who will not only pass on the craft, but steer both the young and old away from trouble.  “Maraming mga bata diyan, laro-laro lang, o kahit yung matatanda, yosi at inom. Gusto ko sila sabihan na ‘Huwag na kayo diyan. Dito na lang kayo sa b-boy.’”


E-mail the author at ralph.mendoza@yahoo.com. PHOTOS by Ralph Mendoza

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