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Origin of dance in the Philippines

Countries in the world have their own cultures made more colorful, beautiful and vibrant
because of Folk Dances that are reflection of who they are. In the east, the Chinese
have their symbolic Dragon Dance, the Japanese have the ancestral dance Bon Odori.
In the west the Americans have their Square Dance. On the other hand, the Philippines
will not be left behind. "The Pearl of The Orient" boast of a varitey of Filipino Folk
The Philippines consist of 7107 islands, and is broken down in three groups of islands.
The Luzon, Mindano, and Visayas. Each of these regions contain different
languages,history, regligon, and traditions. With each region having different influence in
thier arts, crafts, and ancestorical dances. Lets take a trip through each region and
explore the different styles, costumes, Dances and Talents from Each Region.... As we
explore each of the regions and styles, please remember alot of these Cultural and Folk
dances represents hardships and daily back breaking tasks, that has turned into a art
form. Many of the dances you will read about here were actuall activities or chores that
the Filipino endured to survive the poor economy and state of the nation

The History of Dance in the Philippines

Dance is an integral part of Filipino culture that dates to the period before Ferdinand
Magellan stepped foot in the Philippines. The traditional dances of the Filipinos are
vibrant and colorful, capturing the history of the archipelago.

Before the Spanish

Various tribes were scattered across the more than 7,000 islands, each with its own
unique traditions and dances. The Igorot tribes lived in the mountains of Luzon; a
handful of these tribes still reside in the mountains, having successfully resisted
Spanish colonization. Many of the dances have been handed down through the
generations. Dance expresses this tribe's love of nature and gratitude to the gods. To

imitate the wonders of nature, dancers often swoop their arms like birds and stomp their
feet to represent the rumbling of the Earth.
However, many other tribes in other regions are disappearing, and only a few of their
dances survive. Thanksgiving, worship and prayers for a bountiful harvest mark the
style of these dances.

Voyage to Mindanao
In the 12th century, traders and seafarers came to the Philippines long before the
Spanish, bringing the Islamic faith with them. The inhabitants of the southern region
converted to Islam, incorporating their new religion into the fabric of their existing
culture. The dances of the Muslims, known as Moros, are alluring and colorful. Female
dancers wear costumes studded with jewels, while male dancers brandish swords and
shields. The Moros use languid arm movements to imitate the world around them such
as the wind, the sea and the fish. Each dance is punctuated by the haunting sounds of
the kulintangan, a set of small gongs.
Like the Igorots, the Moros were able to resist Spanish rule, which is why many of their
dances continue to flourish.

Maria Clara
In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan came to the archipelago, signaling the start of Spanish
colonization. However, the Spanish didn't get a foothold in the Philippines until 1565.
Three centuries of Spanish rule left an imprint on the Filipinos. Many of them were
converted to Catholicism and forced to take Spanish surnames.
During this period, Western culture spread through the islands, including such Western
dances as the waltz, fandango and polka. With a little Filipino flare, they quickly became
part of the culture. This "new" style of dance was named Maria Clara after the tragic
character in Jose Rizal's novel "Noli Me Tangere."

Barrio Fiesta
After toiling in the rice paddies, countryside farmers would gather to sing and dance.
These dances revolve around everyday items, such as glasses, candles, benches, hats
and bamboo poles. Because the dances are a celebration, they are often referred to as
"a barrio fiesta." One of the more complicated dances is pandanggo sa ilaw, meaning
"dance of lights," which imitates wandering fireflies. To accomplish the illusion, women
delicately balance three "tinghoy," or oil lamps, on their heads and palms.

The National Dance

Tinikling, the national dance, is considered the oldest of the Philippine folk dances. The
dance, which comes from the countryside, takes its name and movements from the
"tinikling" bird as it roams between grass steams, crushes tree branches and avoids
traps set by rice farmers. Dancers skip gracefully back and forth while trying to avoid
getting their feet caught by two bamboo poles.
There are many tall tales about the dance's origins. According to one story, Filipino farm
workers who displeased their Spanish masters had their feet smashed by two bamboo
poles. When the poles were apart, the workers would jump to avoid getting hurt. Thus,
this dance was born.

Many of these dances survive today, thanks to dance troupes in the Philippines and
abroad. Filipino student organizations at many U.S. universities and colleges put on a
yearly celebration of cultural dances.

Dances in the Philippines

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Tinikling involves two people hitting bamboo poles on the ground and against each
other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles
in a dance. It originated in Leyte among the Visayan islands in central Philippines as an
imitation of the tikling bird.
Once taught simply as a folk dance from the Philippines, it has recently become popular
in the sports curricula of elementary schools as it involves skills similar to jumping rope.
Its now a new, fun form of aerobic exercise that also improves spatial awareness,
rhythm, foot and leg speed, agility, and coordination.
Sayaw sa Bangko (dance on a bench) is a folk dance from the Pangasinan province of
the Philippines.
Performers dance on top of a bench that is normally six inches wide.
A slightly more well-known Philippine dance with similarities to Sayaw sa Bangko is
the tinikling, which employs bamboo poles.
The cariosa is a Philippine folk dance of Hispanic origin. It is closely associated with
the island of Panay and the Visayas region in general. The wordcariosa is from the
Spanish cariosa meaning the affectionate one. Most Filipina women can be described
as karinyosa.
This is a courtship dance that portrays acts of flirtation between a man and a woman.
The dancers perform steps resembling hide-and-seek movements. The woman holds a
handkerchief or sometimes a fan.
The itik-itik is a dance from Surigao, in which the movements of a duck are imitated.
An itik is a species of duck.

Coconut shell halves are attached to the chest, back and knees of male dancers who hit
those shells with shell halves attached to their hands.
The maglalatik dance is said to have originated in Laguna province.
Pandanggo sa Ilaw is a very popular folk dance in the Philippines. It is said to have
originated from Mindoro, the seventh-largest island in the Philippines. This dance of
lights simulates fireflies at dusk and at night.
Mazurka Boholana
Mazurka Boholana is a Spanish-inspired ballroom dance from the Bohol province of the
Philippines. The country was under the rule of Spain for more than three hundred years,
during which time local culture was markedly influenced. Although the mazurka is the
Polish national dance, it was wildly popular throughout Europe in the 19th century and
even in colonized lands overseas. The Philippine dance is ordinarily performed by men
and women partners.
La Estudiantina is a Spanish-inspired dance of the Philippines. The country was under
the rule of Spain for more than three hundred years, during which time local culture was
markedly influenced.

Binasuan is a colorful and lively dance from Pangasinan, a province on the island of
Luzon. It is often danced at weddings and fiestas.
The word binasuan means with the use of drinking glasses and it refers to how the
performers balance glasses on their heads and hands while gracefully dancing. This is
especially tricky because the glasses are filled with rice wine or some other form of
Alkamfor is a couples dance from Leyte, a province of the Philippines located in the
Visayas group of islands. In this dance, the girl holds a handkerchief laced with

camphor, a substance that is locally thought to induce romance. She flirts with the man
by waving her scented handkerchief in front of his face.
The Spanish-influenced Kuratsa or Curacha was once a very popular dance in different
parts of the Philippines, particularly in the Visayas region.

Significance of dance in the Philippine

The modern Filipino is often described as having an identity crisis, and the Philippines
as a beautiful country lacking its own culture. But a closer look at Filipino art, dance and
traditional music may surprise you. The colourful cultural heritage of the country is
actually very evident in the works of prominent Filipino authors, performers and artists. A
rich blend of diverse traditions Malay, Spanish and American - defines the Filipino
The countrys multifaceted history, years of colonisation and strategic location that
allowed barter trade not only of goods and products but the exchange of cultural
influences all made Philippine culture the unique hodgepodge that it is today. Stay a
bit longer if you want to truly see how this distinctive medley of traditional Malay,
Spanish and Western heritage has adapted to modernity. The more you look, the more
interesting it becomes.

It serves as artistic expression in Manila

The Filipino culture is as multifaceted as its history. Filipinos are a very artistic and
creative people, thriving in industries ranging from performing to visual arts, and
creating the most iconic of masterpieces that command top dollar abroad.
Cultural expression is not confined to the many museums that dot Manila. If you really
want to see culture, check out the countrys parade of festivities, food, tribes, native

dresses, religion, native languages and dialects, as well as its creative literature and
traditional amusements and pastimes.
Art is a natural form of expression for Filipinos. During years of peril under foreign rule,
many iconic masterpieces have surfaced, among which is Juan Lunas Spoliarium,
which symbolically depicts the harsh rule of the Spanish over the Philippines. Visual art
provides a channel for expression for most Filipinos, whether it be through painting,
sculpture, weaving or religious works. Art has been used to make political statements,
portray reality, showcase other facets of culture and boast about the rich nature
surrounding the country.
Engravings, etchings and sculptures are also among the earliest forms of folk art in the
Philippines. National monuments which were sculpted and crafted by early artists date
back from as early as the 17th Century. These sculptures either commemorate different
nobilities, Christian icons, heroic personalities or depict various monumental events in
the countrys history. Religious art was also at boom in the early centuries, adorning
gothic and baroque churches throughout the archipelago.

Serves as tradition in celebrating fiestas and

Tinikling is a tradition Filipino dance form Legends and myths that were passed on
through orations also take the form of folk literature, while literature from the 20th and
21st Centuries exudes modernismo or Modernism. The Philippine theatre scene is as
rich as its other art forms. Just among the age old dramatic art forms still practiced in
the country are the cenaculo, which depicts Christs passion, moro-moro (comedia),
which presents the Christian and Muslim feud in a light comedic manner, as well as the
classic zarzuela, which is a form of light operatta largely influenced by its Spanish
The modern theatre industry has taken inspiration from Broadway productions and
avant-garde stage shows, bringing to life rich literature through skillful acting, dancing

and singing. The Cultural Centre of the Philippines is just one of the main theatre
institutions and platforms where Filipinos theatrical skills are on display.
Balagtasan is an interesting form of spontaneous poetic debate, performed by makatas
or poets who contest opposing views by reciting impromptu verses to establish points of
argument. After the debate, the mediator or lakandiwa bestows judgment by soliciting
applause from the audience. The makata with the loudest applause wins the debate.

It tell a lot about the history of the Philippines

Folk dances also tell a lot about the history and the culture of the Philippines. Almost
like role playing, folk dances like Singkil tells of interesting stories of tribal prince and
princesses and other royalties. Graceful moves, flicks of the finger, pulsating beats,
colourful costumes, life size head dresses and lifelike props are just some aspects
synonymous with Philippine folk dances. Other forms of folk dance also serve as
celebration for good harvest and sometimes a prayer for the same, while some serve as
a rite of passage.
The different regions of the country also have different forms of folk dances often
showcased during festivities and special events. Common examples include Tinikling,
which mimics movements of birds called tikling hopping over bamboo traps that are set
up by farmers. Ragsakan is also one of the most famous and most colourful dances.
Literally translated as merriment, Ragsakan is a form of gratitude for a successful
headhunt, and is also performed as a peace pact for warring tribes.
Many dances are accompanied by indigenous instruments, including agungs and
kulintangs, which create mellow to fast beats that add life to the dance. Music is also a
big part of the Filipino culture. Folk music and vocal chanting were among the earliest
forms of music contributed by tribal and ethnic groups. Panghaharana or serenading is
an age old way of wooing Filipinas, often done by hopeful binatas (bachelors) through
kundiman or lyrical songs that depict romance, passion, love and even sadness or
frustration. Choral music is also popular, along with orchestras and rondalla, which is an

ensemble of acoustic instruments, including bandurria, guitar and other mandolin

While different genres of music like rock, hiphop, pop, and rhythm and blues seem to
rule over the radio waves nowadays, classic Original Pilipino Music or OPM never dies.
Original compositions by local artists are among the most beautiful musical poetries one
can hear. The 20th Century also saw the birth of different OPM bands who offer modern
twists to the Philippine music scene. Filipino music is also one of the strongest facets of
the countrys culture.