Say goodbye to planking and “noynoying.”
What could be a more effective way to convey a message to the public was initiated by the Department of Health (DOH) when it pulled an entertainment surprise in front of the usual Saturday night crowd at a bustling Makati City mall in the form of flash mob.
A group of men and women, young and old, began swaying and rollicking to a medley of upbeat songs in a six-minute dance routine in the open space fronting a strip of cafes, bars and restaurants at Greenbelt 3—a most appropriate spot to remind patrons to be conscious of their health and watch what they eat and drink.
The mob dance was designed to advance exercise as a part of the Filipino lifestyle to combat the top killer noncommunicable diseases such as stroke, cancer and heart attack.
Assistant Health Secretary Enrique Tayag said the flash mob called “Dance for Life” was a symbolic launch of the DOH campaign promoting exercise as a main component to healthy living, which includes avoiding smoking and eating right.
The event had over 200 participants from all walks of life clad in their typical, comfortable outfit—short dresses, jeans and sneakers, shorts and sweaters.
No need to go to gym
“None of us wore special gym attire because we want ordinary people to know that they don’t need to go to the gym or to have a swimming pool to exercise,” said Tayag in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday night.
“We want to tell them that as long as there is music, you can dance and that is a form of exercise,” he said.
Tayag, along with the participants—most of whom are members of a fitness club in Metro Manila and employees of the DOH—danced in sync to Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September,” Charice Pempengco’s “Louder,” Jessie J’s “Dirty Dancing in the Moonlight” and J.Lo’s “Dance Again.”
Tayag said the DOH partnered with Fitness First Philippines to come up with the “flash mob,” which is a popular attention-grabbing stunt in western countries to entertain, lampoon or create awareness.
A flash mob is a group of people converging suddenly on a public space to perform for a brief moment and immediately disperse afterward. Flash mobs successfully pulled off in the United States and England had been organized through social media and e-mails.
Among the famous flash mobs was one recorded in April 2006 silent disco at the London Victoria station, where around 4,000 people gathered at a designated time with their portable music devices and began dancing to their music.
Promoting British tourism
Last month, at Vancouver International Airport, a flash mob clad in iconic British attire surprised travelers with a short dance to promote British tourism.
Participants in the DOH event were enlisted through Facebook early last month. They learned the dance routine via a video of the choreography made available on the social networking site. Some rehearsed on their own or in groups while others went to their fitness centers.
Tayag said employing a flash mob to get the health agency’s message across was a good idea to pique the people’s interest. The health department decided to schedule the event for a Saturday because many people are at the mall, he said.
“We want people to know the benefits of exercising as a lifestyle option to combat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs),” he said, adding that the DOH will bring its “Dance for Life” campaign to schools, offices and government agencies across the country.
“What we did during the flash mob were just snippets of the full dance routines that we will be launching nationwide. We will roll out complete and more intense routines that people can follow on a regular basis,” he said.
Leading causes of death
Health records show that NCDs or lifestyle-related diseases are the top leading causes of death in the Philippines, a trend that the DOH wants to curb. These include cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease and diabetes.
These diseases are linked to four “most common but preventable” risk factors: Smoking, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and alcohol use.
Records of the World Health Organization indicate that NCDs account for 80 percent of all deaths in the Western Pacific region. A significant percentage of these fatalities are younger than 60 years.