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Southern Islands Suite

The southern islands of the Philippines are wondrous and serene. Consisting of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, the south is populated by many Filipinos who have been converted to the Islamic faith long before the Spanish inquisition took place. The dances of these islands are graceful, flowing, and fluid; much like the ocean that surrounds them. The spectacle of colorful and intricate attire and the mesmerizing sounds of the kulintang ensemble easily make these dances the most exotic of all Philippine dances.

Burong Talo
(Jolo, Sulu) The Burong Talo dance of the Tausog people is a form of martial arts interpreted in dance form. Mimicking a fight between a hawk and a cat, this acrobatic dance is accompanied by drum and gong.

Buti Buti
(Jolo, Sulu) The Badjao, known as sea gypsies, are born, raised, and die on boats called lipa or buti. The Badjao have a remarkable affinity with their "home boat" that a dance was created in its honor. Deviating from the traditional pangalay, the buti-buti is an occupational dance that mimics the daily activities of men rowing, diving, casting and pulling nets, harvesting and bringing home the catch while women use rattan baskets to gather shellfish. The accompanying song or Leleng, describes the buti-buti's gentle sway, similar to the graceful walk of the badjao lady.

(Arena Blanco, Zamboanga) The Janggay dance of the Badjao people takes its name from the metal fingernails worn by the women on special occasions. Passed down from generation to generation, the Janggay is danced for celebrations such as birthdays and weddings and for rituals such as male and female circumcisions and Ramadan. This smooth and flowing dance is performed with highly articulated form, restrained strict facial gestures and meticulous attention to the placement of each finger in relation to the palms and wrist twists.

(Marawi, Lanao del Sur) Maranao women walk the kini-kini to display good breeding and social graces as they elegantly manipulate two hand-held fans called apir.

Katubao Katendong*
(Maguindanao) The tendong is a head covering worn by females and the tubao is a head covering worn by males among the Maguindanaoan people. This dance goes through the many ways of wearing the tendong and tubao.

(Marawi, Lanao del Norte) The royal walk or "kini-kini" of the Maranao women is illustrated in the Kinakulangan dance. Male attendants follow the ladies as they gracefully manipulate mosala, or scarves, displaying their elite social upbringing.

(Jolo, Sulu) Literally meaning "to dance," the maglangka is used to mold the adolescent girls into ladies of good breeding and accomplished dancing skills. The girls are strictly taught to gracefully execute movements imitating birds in flight, fish swimming in the sea, or branches swaying in the air while remaining in the confines of a square cloth. these movements require intense concentration and innate style as the ladies express emotions and entertain guests.

(Jolo, Sulu) This dance is another version of the Pangalay found among the Tausog people. It is a courtship dance that features the skill and agility of the female dancer as she balances atop two bamboo poles held on the shoulders of two males.

(Jolo, Sulu) Pangalay is a popular festival dance in Sulu. It is performed in wedding celebrations and at big social affairs. Wedding celebrations among the rich families in Sulu are lavishly observed. They may last for several days or even weeks depending on the financial status and agreement of both families. Well known dancers perform the dance while others feast. Expert dancers use janggay, extended metal finger nails made of gold or silver.

(Maguindanao) Sagayan is an all male dance performed as a way to ward off evil spirits or calamities. Performed in a trance-like state, the dancers represent the legendary Prince Bantugan and his dramatic victories in war.


(Maranao, Mindanao) Coming from the Lake Lanao region, the Singkil is a popular dance performed during celebrations and other festive entertainment. Performed as a female only dance, the Singkil serves as either a conscious or unconscious advertisement to would-be suitors for her future marriage. The ladies graciously step in and out of clashing bamboo poles arranged in either a parallel, rectangular, or criss cross fashion while manipulating either apir (fans), mosala (scarves), or even just their bare hands.

Sua Ko Sua*
(Jolo, Sulu) The Tausug are known as hardy farmers owning extensive ochards of pomelo or sua. At harvest time, pomelo fruits are gathered in big baskets before they are sent away. The Tausug depend strongly on the income the pomelo brings them and this relationship is romanticized by comparing the sua's gentle leaves, slender branches, attractive fruit and fragrant flowers to the virtues of a lady. Put to music, it is this song that is sang by couples while flapping two white fans each resembling leaves rustling in the wind.

Singkil means to entangle the feet with disturbing objects such as vines or anything in your path. It takes its name from the epic tale that the Maranao people trace the origin of their culture. It goes as follows: In the land of Bembaran lived a brave and handsome hero prince named Paramata Bantogan. He would often leave Bembaran in search of beautiful princesses from far off lands, thus leaving Bembaran vulnerable with its most bravest warrior absent. This would make the diwatas, the guardian spirits of Bembaran, very angry. In an attempt to get Bantongen to stay, the diwatas kidnapped Princess Gandingan, a local princess with bewitching beauty whom Prince Bantongan had not yet seen. The diwatas then placed the princess in an isolated forest where Bantongen would pass on his way to the lands of his favorite ladies. As he passed through this forest, the diwatas caused in earthquake. In her freight, Princess Gandingan began to run for safety. Despite the fierce earthquake causing boulders to fall and all of nature to shake, Princess Gandingan gracefully stepped, hopped, jumped, and hurdled the little rocks and swiftly passed through the trembling trees. The valiant prince saw the frightened princess, chased her, and lead her to safety. Soon after, the earthquake stopped, leaving Prince Bantongan to admire the charming and beautiful princess and forget the beauties of other lands. Thus, Singkil mimics the trials and gracefulness of the legendary Princess Gandingan as she avoided entangling her feet in the cursed forest.

* denotes the dance as part of our current repertoire for performance engagements



Copyright © 2011 Hiyas Philippine Folk Dance Company