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Forgotten Tribes

Lumad Suite
"Forgotten Tribes"

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.

Binaylan Banog*
(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.

Kadal Heroyon*
(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.

Kadal Taho
(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 safety.


(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.

Kinugsik Kugsik*
(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




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