- Sarimanok Suite – The southern islands of the Philippines, consisting of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, are populated by Filipinos who were converted to the Islamic faith long before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. The dances of these islands are graceful, flowing, and fluid, similar to the waters that surround them. Vivid colors, rhythmic movement and the mesmerizing sounds of the kulintang ensemble, reflect the influence of Arabian and Indo-Malaysian cultures and easily make these dances the most exotic of all Philippine dances.
Pang-Alay– Usually performed at weddings among the affluent families. They may last for several days or even weeks depending on the
financial status and agreement of both families. Dancers perform this dance to the music of the kulintangan, gabbang, and agongs during the wedding feast.
Kini -kini– Ladies of the royal court of the Maranao tribe perform this stately dance in preparation for an
important event. It depicts a royal manner of “walking.”
Sambi Sa Malong – This is another Maranao dance, which shows the many ways of donning the malong, a tubular circle of cloth used as a skirt, shawl or mantle.
Asik– A Maguindanao slave dance performed by the umbrella-bearing attendant of the princess. The “asik” hopes to win the favor of her sultan master and usually precedes a performance.
Singkil– This dance takes its name from the bells worn on the ankles of the princess. Singkil recounts the epic legend of the “Darangan” of
the Maranao, which tells the fateful story of Princess Gandingan, who was caught in the middle of a forest during an earthquake caused by the “diwatas” or fairies of the forest. The crisscrossed bamboo poles represent the falling trees, which she gracefully avoids. Her slave
loyalty accompanies her through out her ordeal. Finally, the Prince arrives and saves her. Dancers skillfully manipulate “apir”, or fans, which represent winds. To this day, royal princesses in the Sulu Archipelago are encouraged to learn this most difficult and noble dance.
4. Recuerdos Suite – The colonization of the Philippines by Spain in the 16thcentury lasted over 400 years. This marked the conversion
of the Filipinos into the Catholic faith, principally in Luzon and the Visayas and the introduction of western ways and style. As a result, Maria Clara, dances (named after the lead female character of Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere) evolved. These dances display strong Spanish influences but were ”Filipinized” as evidencedvby the use of bamboo
castanets and the abanico, or Asian fan.
Sayaw sa Cuyo – On the small island of Cuyo, Palawan’s old capital, the feast day of Saint Augustineis traditionally celebrated with parades, processions and small performances. Island dances, blended with strong Old Cuyo ethnicity and Spanish-influenced steps, are all brought out when Cuyo celebrates its festivals.
Today, pretty young girls daintily swirl hats to the waltz and other European steps, like the mazurka, which bring out the freshness and glow of the performers.
La Jota Gumaqueña – Once very popular among the prosperous families of Gumaca, Tayabos, thisdance was introduced by a well known local musician at the time, Señor Herminigildo Omana. It became popular with the young people and was handed down between generations.
La Jota Caygayana – During the Spanish regime, lively Jota dances were very popular in the Philippines, this dance, which originated in Cagayan, is an adapted form of the Spanish Jotas performed by the early Spanish settlers in the Philippines.
La Jota Manileña – This dance originated in Manila circa the 19th century. Like the other Jotas in Philippine folk dances, this is an adaptation from the Castillian version, with the castanets made of bamboo and are only held, not fastened, to the fingers.
- Subli sa Nayon Suite: Perhaps the best known and closest to the Filipino heart are the dances from the rural Christian lowlands, a country blessed with so much beauty. To the Filipinos, these dances illustrate the fiesta spirit and demonstrate a joy in work and play, a love for music and pleasures in the simplicities of life.
Pagtatanim at Bayuhan– This set of dances depicts the different steps in rice growing, harvesting and processing, as practiced in different regions of the Philippines.
Subli – This ancient dance was originally performed in veneration of the holy cross referred to in the vernacular as Mahal na Poong Santa Cruz. The word subli is derived from two Tagalog words, subsub (stooped) a
nd bali (broken). Hence, the men are stooped throughout the dance and appear to be lame and crooked, while the women dance with hats.
Maglalatik – This mock war dance depicts a fight between the Muslims and the Christians over the prized latik, or coconut meat residue. This dance is also performed as as a tribute to San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. Maglalatik is a four-part performance:
the palipasan and the baligtaran showing the intense combat, and the paseo and the escaramusa, the reconciliation. All of the men use harnesses of coconut shells positioned on their backs, chest, hips, and thighs.
Bulaklakan – This lovely and vibrant dance is usually performed in celebration of Flores de Mayo, a religious festival during the month of May in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Binasuan – With three glasses half full of beverage (usually rice wine), one on top of the head and one on each hand, the dancers display good balance and graceful movements, and show off theirskill in maneuvering the glasses as they execute turns, sit and roll on the floor.
Pasigan– This literally means ”ring net” which is used for catching fish. The Pasigin dance was created by the imaginative minds of the Capiznons. The dance depicts the movements of the fishermen scooping fish,
swishing the net in the sea and sifting afterwards.
Karatong – In September, the Mango Festival is celebrated in the island of Cuyo in honor of Saint Augustine and also in dedication of the sweet table mango that grow abundantly on the island. The male performers play the karatong and the female dancers a representation of blossoming mango trees. Karatong refers to the musical instrument made of bamboo that is about a yard long, tied horizontally below the waist and struck by two sticks to top the lively, syncopated rhythm of the dance.
Tinikling – Arguably considered the Philippine national dance, Tinikling imitates the movement of the tinikling birds as they walk between grass stems, run over tree branches, or dodge bamboo traps set by the rice farmers. Dancers imitate the tikling bird’s
legendary grace and speed by skillfully maneuvering between large bamboo poles.
My daughter, Stephanie, who is half Filipino and half American (CSFA – Cultural Society of Filipino Americans) is in a dance called: Pagtatanim with other – children (mga anak). The dance illustrates how Filipinos plant rice. Rice planting is hard on the back because one is bent over constantly and most farmers of the Philippines do the work by hand; farming is not a lucrative business as it is for many in America.
The day gives rise to sore and aching muscles and that evening the planters have an exhausted sleep…after sleeping all night they wake-up s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g before going to the fields again. That is what is depicted in the first part of the dance. Later the dance is completed with a harvesting of the grain. The dancers depict again the hard work and bent over bodies cutting and gathering their main staple of food.
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading a little snippet of the twenty-two dances. The entire production is a colorful and educational history of the islands dating back hundreds of years, to present.