FILIPINO FOLK DANCE PROGRAM NOTES RESOURCE
by Zonia Elvas Velasco
(Note: Any of the foregoing material may be copied for your use, but with due reference to author and FFAT as follows: from Zonia Elvas Velasco, Filipino Folk Dance Program Notes Resource, FFATI )
I. MOUNTAIN TRIBAL STORIES
A. T’boli and B’laan
The Philippines has tribal minorities which live high in the mountains. In the thick jungles and rainforests of Mindanao, we have the T’boli and B’laan tribal groups.
This section opens up with a song from a Babaylan, a prophettess and medicine woman, who sings Korayan ”….. I sense a climate of foreboding, something is going to happen which will affect the lives of people in this village. I see death’s hand coming…..ai, I do not want to know who will die… but everyone be careful, beware….” Three village girls echo her fears as they sing with her. And life goes on in the village.
Enter Dedeng, a beautiful princess who starts dancing with the village girls. Dedeng dances very gracefully, and is very playful. In their merriment, they did not notice that a stranger from another tribe had come in to join them. Angok had been watching them for days and he had secretly fallen in love with Dedeng.
He dances with Dedeng. During the dance, Dedeng is attracted to the handsome Angok. Angok invites Dedeng to go with him. She disappears with Angok.
The girls sound the alarm as soon as they notice Dedeng’s disappearance. The villagers follow and finds them. Angok is challenged to a fight for Dedeng’s honor. Angok loses, but Dedeng runs to his rescue and tells her family that she is in love with him and that she and Angok were now one. She asks for forgiveness and acceptance although she is ready to be punished and be banished from their kingdom. Instead her family and tribe forgives her and takes her back. That is how the two tribes of the T’boli and B’laan came together, to live in peace for a long, long time.
B. Igorot Sketches
In Luzon, high in the Cordilleras live the Igorot tribes of the Sagada, Kalinga-Apayao, Itneg, Gaddang, Ilongot, Benguet, etc.. They have built rice terraces in the mountains, which now look like giant stairways to the sky. The songs and dances reflect daily life, and courtship. The use of ethnic drums and various bamboo instruments by the Southeast Asian Anklung and Bamboo Ensemble heightens this experience of Igorot pastoral life.
Songs and Dances:
- Banga-Salidsid, the art of carrying water inside earthen jars which are balanced on top of women’s heads
- Chua-ay, a rice-pounding song
- Digdigwi, a song for women to call their menfolk home to dinner
- Salidum-ay, a style of poetry and song-form used for courtship and greeting
- Rain Dance, a dance asking for rain to come
- Talip at Bumayah, The maiden Talip‘s courtship and Bumayah celebration
II. BAILES ESPAÑOLES-EUROPEOS DE LAS ISLAS FILIPINAS
1. Filipino Folk Song Medley – a medley of Filipino folk songs from different regions of the Philippines: O Ilaw (Tagalog: Oh, starlight in a dark night, shed light to my unrequited love), Ti Ayat Ti Meysa nga Ubing (Ilocano: the love of a young virgin, is as fresh and sweet as jasmine flowers in April), Si Nanay si Tatay (Bicolano: my mother and my father, I will never abandon them), Ili-ili Tulog Anay (Ilonggo: sleep my child), Atin Cu Pung Singsing (Pampangga: I have lost my ring, has anyone seen it?)
2. Manton de Manila
Long-fringed and tasseled shawls from Manila were brought to Spain through the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade, and were known as manton de Manila. This dance, exhibits the different ways of wearing and using this shawl.
3. Bailes de Alcamfor
- handkerchiefs kept in camphor boxes carry its sweet scent, which both the ladies and gentlemen of the period enjoyed.
- sung originally in Chabacano-Ermitense dialect, this dance from the Ermita district, uses tambourines and a lot of turns.
- a folk song from Mexico which has been so popular in the Philippines that it was thought to be a Filipino folk song as well. This song exemplifies the close affinity of the Philippines to Mexico during the Spanish colonial era. “Star in the blue sky, look down at my tears and my suffering. Help me find solace in this love which I may never find.”
6. Jota Moncadeña
- A dance utilizing castanets made out of Philippine bamboo. Originating from Moncada, a town in Tarlac, this is a fast dance which is complemented by a slow, sad portion.
7. Pobreng Alindahaw
- The word Alindahaw, means a raindrop or a butterfly. This is a song from Leyte which talks about a poor raindrop/butterfly, as it travels from one thirsty flower to another.
8. Paseo de Iloilo
- In the town plaza of Jaro, Iloilo, it is customary for ladies to promenade in the park in the late afternoon with their chaperones Let’s see how successful this chaperone is in guarding her ward.
9. Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal
“How much do I love you? You can count on my love as you could count on the sun rising at dawn. Although this is a contemporary classical Filipino love song by the late George Canseco, it is used as background for a typical Filipino wedding scene complete with veil, cord and arrhae ceremonies.
Bridesmaids dance during the wedding reception, while guests pin money on the bride and groom’s garments, as is tradition.
11. Jota Caviteño
A jota dance of skill, of fast castanets, rapid twirls and turns… from the province of Cavite.
12. Bayan Ko
A patriotic song yearning for freedom from Spanish colonial rule. Music is by Constancio de Guzman, lyrics by Jose Corazon de Jesus.
“Ibon mang may layang lumipad,
kulungin mo at umiiyak
Bayan pa kayang sakdal dilag,
ang di magnasang maka-alpas
Pilipinas kong minumutya,
pugad ng luha ko’t dalita
Aking adhika, makita kang sakdal
(A bird who is free to soar… put it in a cage, and it will cry. What more a country with such beauty, will it not want to break loose and be free? Philippines, my beloved, in you I suffer with tears and poverty. My ultimate hope and dream, to see you one day, free!)
III. COUNTRY LIFE
1. Anklung Medley
The anklung handbells are bamboo instruments that are common to the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries. Here, they play folk songs of the rural areas of the Philippines.
2. Magsayaw Ka Giliw
A song saying “dance, my love, and sing!” This is a dance of celebration after a good harvest. The rice is pounded and now the husk has to be separated from the grain. This dance is performed using flat bamboo baskets called bilao. With a few movements of the bilao, the grain is separated from the chaff.
3. Ahay, Kalisud!
An Ilonggo folk song which was first popularized by operatic diva Jovita Fuentes. She was engaged to President Roxas and was jilted for another. While in Capiz, she heard this folksong being sung by the maid, and the lyrics touched her so, as it echoed her sentiments. She brought it back to Manila and added it to her repertoire. This song comes from the island of Panay, and laments about being abandoned by a lover for someone else. This arrangement is by Prof. Lucio San Pedro.
A dance originating from the Ilocos region, mimicking two love doves, cooing and exchanging flowers which they carry in their beaks.
5. Masaganang Kabukiran
The abundance of the fields is celebrated using wooden slippers called bakya.
6. Magbalik Ka Hirang
This classical kundiman by Nicanor Abelardo yearns for the return of a lost love.
7. Ay, Pag-ibig!
Nitoy Gonzales has written this lilting song. “Ay, Love! It was love at first sight the moment I laid eyes on you. Love, when you come, may you bring joy and not despair!”
8. Sayaw sa Bangko
“How could they dance on top of that narrow 8 inch wide bench? How could they do twirls, jumps and exchange places?”
Arnis rattan sticks are used to display the different sinawali martial art drills.
Night fishermen are guided back to shore by townspeople who wave lighted candles inside glasses. The women balance them on top of their heads and both hands. The men, wrap them inside handkerchiefs, and wave them over their heads, to serve as a beacon to guide the fishermen back to shore safely.
A dance from the province of Batangas, this is a dance which comes from two words: subsub (bent over forward, nearly falling), and bali (bent and broken). Girls tease the men with their hats, coaxing them to straighten up. The men had made a bet, and the last one that straightens up wins!
12. Pandanggo ng Sambalilo
Whoever could put on the hat which is on the ground without using his hands to pick it up, wins!
The dance mimics the movements of the long-legged tikling bird as it tries to avoid and escape bamboo traps in the rice paddies.
IV. MINDANAO SKETCHES
Excerpts from “Sultan Kudarat“
The ailing Sultan of the ancient Kingdom of Kudarat is ready to have his son take over the throne. However, tradition states that he must first take a wife. The Sultan from the neighboring kingdom sends Princess Dayang-Dayang, and the Prince is love-struck as soon as he sets eyes on her. However, the Princess was not interested. She told him that she will only marry the one she loves, and she made it clear to the Prince that she certainly felt no love from him!
The Prince, calls on the Wise One to give him advice, and he was told that only a powerful Love Potion could solve his problem. He should at once embark on finding the ingredients of this love potion.
First, he needs to find the egg of the Sarimanok which is buried deep in the sand where the turtles dance. Second, he needs to find the roots of the Lunok tree, but he may have to fight and beat the fierce Guardian of the Lunok to get a handful of it. Third, he needs one fragrant flower that is grown only by the Queen of Flowers. To cook this together makes a magic love potion which will surely make the princess fall in love with him.
So, this story is about the Prince’s quest, and adventure! He does get the love potion, but did he really need it? For even before the Princess partakes of it, she had already fallen in love with him, as she learned about his persistence and sacrifice to find the ingredients of the potion.
Unfortunately, by tradition, Princess Dayang-Dayang still has to pass the test of the Singkil. If her feet get caught by the bamboo poles, she fails this, and she dies – as to them, it is a sign that her heart is not pure, and that she would ultimately lead the kingdom to ruin. If she succeeds, she will become the next Queen of the Kingdom of Kudarat! So, will she succeed?
- Kulintang Overture
- Village People: Kapa Malong Ulo
- Kapa Malong Malong
- Princess Dayang-Dayang Welcomed: Pangyan Welcome Dance
- Refusal of the Bethrothal, and the Wise One’s Solution
- Sultana: The Prince’s Quest for the Ingredients of the Love Potion
- Janggayan: The Sea Turtles and the Sarimanok Egg
- Arnis Laban: The Lunok Fight for the Miraculous Roots
- Pangalay sa Patong: The Queen of Flowers
- The Love Elixir and the Proclamation: Sayao Panyo
- The Kingdom Prepares: Kadzoratan
- The Festivities Begin: Sayao Paypay
- The Test of the Singkil
These are the program notes for FFATI’s performance entitled MUSIC AND DANCE FROM SEVEN THOUSAND ISLANDS gala presentation on June 14, 1997 starting at 7:45 pm at the Horchow Auditorium, Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 Harwood, Dallas, Texas. (FFATI reserves the right to change the program sequence and/or numbers.)
last modified: June 4, 1997