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Countries of the world have their own cultures made more colorful, beautiful and vibrant

because of folk dances that are a reflection of who they are and what they are. In the East, the
Chinese have their symbolical dragon dance; the Japanese have the ancestral dance Bon
Odori. In the West, the Americans have their Square Dance. The Scottish people have their
world-famous dances (Highland and Country Dance, Jig and Reel). On the other hand, the
Philippines will not be left behind! The ?Pearl of the Orient? boasts of a variety of Philippine folk

The Filipinos pay tributes and owe itself to cultural heritage. One way of showing such love and
respect for the country gave birth to the development of Philippine ethnic folk dances. And there
are several of these; namely, Binasuan, Sublian, Itik-itik, Tinikling, Maglalatik, Cari?osa etc.

Binasuan is a native dance of Pangasinan. This dance literally means ?dancing with glasses.?
The steps are executed with glasses filled with rice wine balanced on the head and the hands of
the dancers. Danced to show balance and to reflect rural gaiety, Binasuan is performed usually
in wedding ceremonies and occasions in the barangay.

Sublian owes its meaning to native words ?subsub? meaning to fall with the head and ?bali? or
broken. This meaning is reflected in the dance steps. The dancers move feebly and tortuously
as if without vigor. This dance, however, traces its roots to Batangas where it was originally
played as a ritual dance which evolved into a symbol of religious tradition performed during town

Itik-Itik is one of the Philippine folk dances which have an interesting origin. According to stories,
a Filipina maiden-dancer of Surigao del Norte was asked to perform a native dance in one
special occasion. She started to improvise new steps and imitate the courtship movements of a
local species of duck known as ?itik.? The spectators began to imitate her and that is how the
dance came to be.

Tinikling is another Philippine folk dance that is inspired by an endemic bird called ?tikling.? The
steps of this dance are an imitation of the movements of a ?tikling? bird that hops and escapes
the traps set by hunters. Moving with poise and grace, the dancers skip in-between two bamboo
poles that are held to pound rhythmically against each other. This dance is a specialty of Leyte.

Maglalatik is danced to mimic the early battle against Christians and Moros to win coconut meat
or ?latik? during the time of Spanish colonization. This is also performed to pay homage to the
town saint of Bi'an, Laguna ? San Isidro Labrador. This dance is divided into four parts:
baligtaran, palipasan, paseo and escaramusa. This is performed by all-male dancers who wear
blue pants to represent the Christians and red pant for the Moros. All dancers, however, have
coconut shells mounted on their body parts.

These aforementioned Philippine folk dances are ethnic in nature and origin. On the other hand,
there are several Philippine folk dances that were influenced by some Western countries as
some of these had colonized Philippines in the past. One such country is Spain. Some of the
so-called ?influenced? Philippine folk dances are the following: Pandango sa Ilaw, Cari?osa,
Balitao and Rigodon.
To conclude, these folk dances whether ethnic in origin or not reflect the lively culture that the
Filipinos have. These dances may be diverse but through these cultural forms, the Filipinos are
unified and proud by way of having Philippine folk dances that are truly one of the bests in
the world.
Folk Dance History in the Philippines

It is impossible to know when exactly dancing became a part of life in the Philippines. Many
traditional dances were designed to thank the gods for natural and agricultural events, such as
rain and harvests. The dances were performed during festivals and remembrances of past
military victories, and still are performed at celebrations of births and weddings in modern times.
Many modern folk dance festivals still feature ancient dances performed in costume of the tribal
period of the Philippines.

Some dances such as the Palok and the Lumagen are performed with traditional percussion
instruments such as the gangsa (a small copper gong), a tobtob (brass gong) or a hibat (a gong
played with a soft wooden stick). For many tribal dances there are no external musicians; the
dancers generate their own accompaniment with stomping and hand clapping.

Later Dances in Philippine History

More recent dances done in the Philippines derive from historical events such as the arrival of
the Spaniards in the 16th century and the conflicts with the Moors. While certain words and
movements from those cultures have been integrated into the dances, the Filipino dance genre
remains true to its ancient tradition and roots.
Philippine Folk Dances

From courtship dances to those portraying various elements of nature, many different sub-
genres exist within Philippine folk dancing.

Courtship Dances

Several dances, especially those influenced by Spanish dance forms, re-enact the courtship of
a man and a woman in all its many aspects from the sublime to the ridiculous. For example,
the Maria Clara is named after the main female character in Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere.

Epitomizing virtue and nobility in a Filipina, the dancers wear traditional Spanish-style gowns
and flirt coquettishly behind fans. The addition of bamboo castanets lend a distinctly Philippine

Idudu: A Snapshot of Ancient Culture

From the area of Abra, Cordillera comes the Idudu, which is a celebration of the family as the
fundamental building block of Philippine culture. Depicting a typical day in the life of a family, the
father is shown working in the fields while the mother cares for the children. As soon as the
father is done, the mother goes into the fields to continue the work while the father goes back to
the house to put the baby to sleep.

A singer usually provides a well-known lullaby during this part of the dance, and it emphasizes
the necessity of cooperation and mutual support in the Tingulan family structure.

Maglalatik: The Dance of War

A dance from before the conversion of the Philippines to Christianity is called the Maglalatik. It
represents a fierce battle between the Moro tribesmen (wearing red trousers) and the Christian
soldiers from Spain (wearing blue). Both groups wear harnesses with coconut shells attached
tightly to their bodies which are struck repeatedly with other shells held in the hands.
Originally from the Binan, Laguna province, it is now one of the most common dances in
Philippine folk dance performances.

Pandanggo sa Ilaw: Grace and Balance

Derived from the Spanish word fandango, this dance is one of several designed to show off the
grace, balance, and dexterity of the performers. Three glasses of wine (or, in modern times,
water) are held in hands and on top of the dancers' heads as they move, never spilling a drop.

This is similar to the Binasuan dance from the Pangasinan Province which is done with drinking

Tinikling: Birds Dancing Over Bamboo

Perhaps the best-known dance in Philippine folk dance history, the Tinikling mimics the high-
stepping strut of birds in the Philippine jungles over the bamboo traps the hunters would set for
them. Two dancers, usually male and female, gracefully step in and out of crossed sets of
bamboo poles being moved together and apart to the music.

The dance gets faster and faster as it goes on, and it has been an audience favorite for
Philippine dance companies touring the world.

More on Cultural Dances

A recent rebirth in interest for folk and cultural dances has spurred many resources to appear
online. You can watch these folk dances on YouTube, read about the cultural history on
informational sites, and even learn some of the dances through instructional videos. Check out
some of these resources to further develop your knowledge of Philippine folk dancing:

Sayam Pilipinas: Plenty of information is available through this informational website,

where the dances are divided into categories and then explained with the help of pictures.
Bayanihan: The official website of the national folk dance company of the Philippines, this
site, written in English, provides authentic glimpses into folk dance of the Philippines, as
well as performance dates.
Parangal: A Filipino dance company based out of San Francisco which brings the art of the
Philippines to American audiences.
ArtsBridge America: The way that dance and culture intertwine all around the world is
explored in this performance curriculum designed to teach about cultural dances of the
Ritwal: A DVD featuring several different types of Philippine folk dancing, this is a visual
feast for anyone interested in the genre.