Scattered throughout the Philippine Archipelago are
slowly disappearing pagan tribes. Lumad is a Visayan (Sugbuanon/Cebuano) word meaning "born of the earth". These tribes of indigenous peoples untouched by neither colonization nor time consist of 18 ethnolinguistic groups: Ata, Bagobo, Banwaon, B'laan, Bukidnon, Dibabawon, Higaonon, Mamanwa, Mandaya, Manguwangan, Manobo, Mansaka, Subanon, Tagakaolo, Tasaday, T'boli, Teduray, and Ubo. Dances of these tribes often reflect thanksgiving, worship, or prayers for bountiful harvests.
(Misamis Oriental) This Higaonon dance is a reenactment of a mother hen caring for her banot or chicks. She then has to protect her young as a hungry hawk attacks. The hunter quickly becomes the hunted as the hawk is attacked and slain by nearby hunters.
(Sungko, Lantapan, Bukidnon) The Higaonon of Bukidnon province in
Mindanao place religion in the highest regard. As a sacrifice dance
rite, the dugso overlaps as a thanksgiving of a good harvest, healing
of the sick, and the overall well-being of the community. As a
supplication of the divine deities, it also dispels malevolent spirits
while assuring sustenance, victory in battle, and the blessing of a
newly opened field. The close association with the pagpagayok bird is
representative of the colorful headdress and the bells around the ankle
is regarded as the best music to the ears of the spirits.
(Lake Sebu, South Cotabato) Kadal Heroyon translates to "dance of flirtation." It is commonly performed by young adolescent T'boli girls eligible for marriage proposal. Gestures imitate high flying birds along with acts of beautification, which is of high importance to the T'boli.
(Lake Sebu, South Cotabato) The T'boli tribe lives among an assortment
of wildlife, most notably birds. Kadal Taho, which means "True Dance of
the T'boli," recounts a story of a flock of sister birds that wandered
too far in search of food. Finding themselves lost, one of the birds
breaks her leg and loses her ability to fly. The flock encourages the
injured bird to test her wings once more and they successfully fly to
(Lake Sebu, South Cotabato) "Karasaguyon" of the T'boli portrays a
polygamous male in the process of picking his next wife from among four
sisters vying for his attention. The jingling of beads and brass bells
around their waists and ankles provide musical accompaniment.
(Santa Maria, Agusan del Norte) The Manobo tribe once lived
harmoniously with squirrels. They named these squirrels "kugsik" and
created a dance to imitate these cuddly and friendly creatures. Now an
endangered species, the Manobo tribe continues to dance the kinugsik
kugsik to remember the once thriving squirrel community of the region.
This dance reenacts a love triangle between two male kugsik and a
female kugsik as they scamper about the forest.
(Davao del Sur) The Lawin-Lawin features males of the Bagobo tribe mimicking high flying eagles or Lawin. Tribal shields are used to imitate wings of an eagle as it swoops and glides through the open sky.
(Margo Sa Tubig, Lupayan District, Zamboanga del Norte) Sohten is a
general term for an all male dance of the Subanon tribe. This version
of sohten is performed with a shield and dried palm leaves and was once
danced as a pre-combat ritual to supplicate the nature gods for
protection and success.
(Babuklod, Florida Blanca, Pampanga) The Aeta, also known as the Negritos, are thought of as the aboriginal tribe of the Philippines. Talbeng is a dance in which the performers playfullly imitate cohabitating animals of the region, most notably the monkeys. A guitarist accompanies this comedic and lively dance.
* denotes the dance as part of our
current repertoire for performance engagements