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 dances.
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, Cariñosa 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 fiestas.
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 Biñan, 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, Cariñosa, 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.