My childhood summertime was usually spent attending catechism class every Saturday. Ate Helen, our catechism teacher, would teach us about Christian values and read bible verses to us. We would sing children’s songs and play fun games.
Sometimes we would have merienda, prepared by Lola Pilar who also owned the place where the classes were held. My childhood friends and I would always look forward to having pan de sal (with palaman) and paired with black gulaman.
At the end of the summer, just before we return to school, we would have a recital, a performance of sorts.
I remember spending the weekdays practicing how to balance several bangas on my head. Ate Helen taught us how to make dikin, a circular pad used when carrying the banga. We made it using cardboard, then wrapped textiles around it.
Balancing several bangas on our little heads had been challenging. I can’t even remember how many I broke just to learn the dance steps for the banga dance.
As a kid, I didn’t know the cultural importance, or the history behind the dance. All I knew then was that it was a fun thing to do with my friends.
Later on, as I was exposed to different cultures, I gained a deep understanding and appreciation for the banga dance. Apart from the dance technique, one has to master, the dance demonstrates how the Cordilleran women would fetch water supply from the river and bring them back up the mountains where they live, toddling through rice paddies and rocky paths.
It is a reflection of the skill and strength of women, as well as their grace and agility as they carry heavy clay pots filled to the brim with water.
In elementary days, I remember dancing the Bulaklakan with a bamboo floral arch and wearing colorful Balintawak. In my second year in high school, we performed an Igorot dance during our school’s foundation day.
While those performances became good memories, in hindsight, it would give more meaning if we knew the significance of the dances, instead of learning just the movements.
“We don’t want our Philippine dances and songs to be just relegated as mere entertainment. They are more than that. At the core of these dances are the historical, socio-religious, and cultural backgrounds of the indigenous community where they originate. Our indigenous dances are our spiritual and social expressions. They speak of our national identity as Filipino people,” said CCP president Margie Moran-Floirendo during the recent launch of TA(Y)O: Daloy ng Katauhan, Indak ng Pagkakakilanlan instructional videos on Philippine folk and indigenous dances.
TA(Y)O features nine Philippine folk and indigenous dances from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Each video explains the significance of the dance, the music, and the costume, with dance instruction and performance.
“I noticed that there are only a few digitized resources that educators, such as myself, can use to teach our students about Philippine folk dances. This observation became the basis behind Ta(y)o,” shared CCP trustee Nikki Junia.
She added: “We poured our hearts into creating these videos because we believe that it is our responsibility as Filipino people to preserve and promote our culture to the young generations. We hope that through these creatively-done videos we will be able to spark interest and develop an appreciation for our Philippine folk dances among the young Filipinos.”
The Luzon dances will premiere online on November 13, Visayas dances on November 20, and Mindanao dances on November 27.
Featured dances include Tumahik of Horses and Men of Yakan; Dumendingan: A Bountiful Harvest, Kambadak-badak: Radiance of the Beautiful Maiden, Panaad: Saot kay San Roque, Pastores Tomas Opus: A Tradition in Transition, Sayaw Kay San Antonio de Padua: Weaving Faith and Resiliency, Futageh: A Warrior’s Strength, Bagul: Spirit of Playfulness, and Tarok: A Second Life.
The videos were directed by Stephen Ramos Biadoma (UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe), Percival Carel (Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group), and Rafael Froilan.
TA(Y)O collaborated with local dance groups and cultural communities, including the Philippine Barangay Folk Dance Troupe, ROFG with Clarendon College Ampud Performing Group, Hanunuo Tribe (MANGYAN) of Oriental Mindoro, Ifugao Intangible Heritage and Performing Arts Group, Agdahanay Folkloric Group, PNU Visayas Makawiwili Dance Troupe, DVFGMNHS Mahidaiton Dance Troupe, Koronadal Hinugyaw Cultural Dance Troupe, Melengas Dance Ensemble, and Kamasahan Yakan Community Dance Company.
The CCP has always been committed to the dissemination, preservation, and promotion of folk and indigenous arts by conducting cultural research, mounting showcases, and festivals, and organizing workshops.