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The Cultural Center of the Philippines
is considered to be the premiere place for performing arts. It has
local and international world-class guest artists.
The kundiman folk music is a popular music form that
is unique to the Philippine islands. It is music that is a combination
of both words and music. Also popular with Filipinos is folk
dancing. There are many variations of dances, both ceremonial and
traditional, that are performed for many different occasions.
There are several types of dance in the
Philippines, those with Muslim or Spanish influences as well as those from the
lowlands and mountains.
With over a million Muslim Filipinos
residing mainly on the island of Mindanao, there are several dances that are
heavily influenced by Islam. A popular dance, the langka-baluang
is one that is performed by male dancers as an angry monkey. One of the
oldest Filipino dances, the singkil is a noble and difficult dance that
is based upon a legend of the Maranao people of Mindanao. This legend,
written during the 14th century, retells the plight of a princess in the middle
of a forest. While she is in there the forest fairies or diwatas
start an earthquake, and only by avoiding trees, along with her slave, is she
finally able to be saved by a prince. Even now, royal princesses in the
Sulu Archipelago are required to learn this dance. Another ritual is one
in which an entire village participates, the pag-ipat. When a
family member is ill, the belief is that an ancestral spirit (tinunungan)
has caused the disease and needs to be appeased. Depending on the severity
of the illness and the financial status of the family, this ritual can last from
a day to several days. A folk healer performs the ritual while having
possession of the spirit.
The Spanish influence in the Philippines
brought about many dances that use a Maria Clara dress (a character in Noli
Me Tangere) and an embroidered long-sleeve short made from pineapple fibers
for their costumes. The Filipinos adapted these Spanish dances by using
bamboo castanets and Asian fans. Carinosa, which means loveable or
affectionate, is a dance that is known all through the Philippines. The
dancers "flirt" using a handkerchief or fan, by playing hide and seek
with them. Part of a wedding ritual, the sabalan lulay, is a dance
that begins with a man dancing around a woman (his partner) until she consents
to dance with him.
The mountainous areas of the Philippines
(Northern Luzon - Central Cordillera region) are home to numerous tribes that
have many rituals and dances that are an integral part of their life.
Dance is a part of many daily functions from celebrating good weather to fending off
bad luck. The Apayao Courtship Dance, from the northernmost
mountain region, is performed by having a couple swing their arms in the air to
similate a flying bird while the woman wears a ceremonial blanket draped around
her. The man moves in a way similar to that of a strutting cock who preens
himself. The Kalinga (one of the mountain tribes) have a bloody tradition
that is revered, headhunting. Kayaw, takes place when a peace pact
(budong) between villages is broken. The village who was affronted
is allowed to attack the other and take as many heads as possible for
trophies. A successful bird hunt is supposed to take place when they
listen to a mysterious bird, Idao.
Possibly the most popular and best known
dances are those from the Philippine lowlands. A place of extreme beauty
and love of life and simplicity, the lowlands have a passion for
music. A spirited dance from Bayambang is the Binasuan, which is
basically a balancing act. The dancers skillfully handle glasses are
partially filled with rice wine and usually perform at birthdays and
weddings. Maglalatik, a simulated-war dance, is a four
part dance which starts out with mock-fighting and ends with
reconciliation. Initially a depiction of a fight between the Christians
and Moros, it is also performed as a mark of respect for San Isidro de Labrador,
the patron saint of farmers.
Some well-known musicians in the Philippines include Rodolfo
and conductor; Antonino Buenaventura, conductor; and Antonio J. Molina,
conductor and composer.
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