FilAm Dance Crew No. 1

by Joseph Pimentel/

LOS ANGELES — A San Diego-based dance crew with three FilAm members won the inaugural Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew competition on MTV last March 27. More  than 38 million people voted  JabbaWockeeZ as the resounding winner over Status Quo, a Massachusetts-based dance crew.

FilAms Chris Gatdula, Rynan Paguio and Phil Tayag were among six members of the masked group that shared the winning purse of $100,000 and ultimate dance crew recognition.

The Asian Journal tried to contact the FilAm members of the JabbaWockeeZ this past week for an interview but all interviews have to go through MTV, according to a JabbaWockeeZ member.

For eight weeks, the JabbaWockeeZ, break-danced, head spun and even performed the Charleston before being chosen into the finals.

The group’s signature style and synchronized dance routines  to the latest music impressed the judges rapper Lil’ Mama, hip-hop choreographer Shane Sparks and former N’ Sync member, JC Chasez. The group only made the elimination round once during the competition.

The JabbaWockeeZ always wears their signature mask to concentrate on the group to give the allusion that no individual member stand out from the rest of the dance crew.

There was also another FilAm dance crew in the competition that made it into the semi-finals. Kaba Modern is a street dance group established in 1992 by a group of kababayans (fellow Filipinos) at the University of California in Irvine, according to the Kaba Modern website.

“The name originally put together to perform as ‘The Modern Suite’ at their Pilipino Culture Night, the group has evolved from being a PCN suite to becoming one of the most cutting-edge hip hop troupes in California,” according to the website.

However, during the semifinals Kaba Modern faced off against the JabbaWockeeZ ,with the latter winning that round to advance to the finals. Ironically, there were no FilAm members who competed for Kaba Modern during the MTV competition.

The JabbaWockeeZ is a 10-member dance crew but only six competed in the MTV event. The name is derived from the “Jabberwocky,” a character in Lewis Carroll’s book “Alice in Wonderland.” It’s been reported that in total there are five or six FilAm members. The group had 11- members but one, Gary Kendell, passed away before the competition. His death was a recurring story line on MTV and source of inspiration for the JabbaWockeez throughout the competition.

Partying with the Jabbas

After the decision had been rendered, the members of the JabbaWockeeZ partied it up in the Hollywood night scene. The members were seen at the Bungalow Club after the win, then Shag nightclub on Friday and Saturday at the Highlands Hollywood club.

FilAm Lorraine Caguin, a friend of Gatdula’s since 1997, partied it up with the group after the win. She observed that the members of the group were mobbed everywhere they went. “It was nonstop,” she added.

Caguin and Gatdula attended high school together at Cimarron Memorial in Las Vegas, NV.

“He [Chris Gatdula] always liked dancing,” recalls Caguin, now a Registered Nurse in a Lakewood Hospital. “I remember when I saw him learning how to do windmills.”

She said that the JabbaWockeeZ dance crew formed in 2003. The members were all from different breakdancing crews. Gatdula was in a break dancing crew called Full Force in Las Vegas, she said. She’s proud of Gatdula and the rest of the JabbaWockeez’ performance.

There was no doubt in her mind that they were going to win the competition when they entered.

“I must have voted at least 50 times,” admitted Caguin to reinforce their winning. “I was just clicking on my computer and posted everyone to vote for them on my personal myspace.”

The competition isolated the group from their friends and family.

“Throughout the competition, they were on lock down. They couldn’t communicate with the public, make phonecalls, or check their laptops. They weren’t allowed to talk or see anybody they know,” Caguin explained.

She said Gatdula expressed his fears to her about the final round against Status Quo. “He felt confident that they were the better dance crew throughout the competition but he was scared since everyone expected the JabbaWockeeZ to win that no one was going to actually vote for them,” she said.

She doesn’t know what Gatdula and the other members are going to do with the $100,000 cash prize. “They are thinking of either splitting it or possibly investing it into the group.”


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