12 Most Notable Philippine Folk Dances That Will Get You Grooving

Singkil philippine folk dances

While a dance means to move rhythmically to music, typically following a set sequence of steps, there’s certainly more to it than its literal meaning. Dance is a source of entertainment and a good healthy lifestyle. But as for the Philippine folk dances, we see a bigger picture and a deeper meaning.

A traditional dance in the Philippines connects us to a place’s culture. It is about history, traditions and majestic beauty of the place it is associated with. The cultural dances in the Philippines evolved from different regions which are distinct from one another as they are affected by religion and culture.

12 Most Popular Philippine Folk Dances

When talking about dance in the Philippines, we can’t help but think of the classic Filipino folk dance that put the country on the world map. Here’s a list of folk dances in the Philippines you should know if you want to learn more about the country’s culture.

  1. Tinikling – A Philippine folk dance that originated in Leyte
  2. Itik-Itik – A cultural dance in the Philippines that originated in Surigao del Sur
  3. Maglalatik – An example of Philippine folk dance that originated in Biñan, Laguna
  4. Binasuan – Binasuan is a tribal dance in the Philippines that originated in Pangasinan
  5. Singkil – Singkil is a Mindanao folk dance that originated in Lake Lanao
  6. Kappa Malong-Malong – A tribal dance in the Philippines that originated from the Maranao tribe in Mindanao
  7. Cariñosa – A local dance in the Philippines that originated in Panay Island
  8. Sayaw sa Bangko – A traditional folk dance in the Philippines that originated in Pangasinan
  9. Pandanggo sa Ilaw – An ethnic dance in the Philippines that originated in Lubang Island, Mindoro
  10. Pandanggo Oasiwas – A folk dance in the Philippines that originated in Lingayen, Pangasinan
  11. Kuratsa – A type of folk dance in the Philippines that originated in Samar Island
  12. Pantomina – A type of dance in the Philippines that originated in Bicol

What’s inside this blog?

Whether you’re searching for ethnic dance in the Philippines, folk dance in Luzon or Mindanao folk dance, this blog will give you the information you need about the different types of dance in the Philippines.

List of Folk Dances in the Philippines

Want to learn more about the folk dance in the country? Here are the different folk dances in the Philippines:

1. Tinikling

Tinikling philippine folk dances

Photo source: snl.no

Tinikling is one of the most famous dances in the Philippines. The movements of this Filipino folk dance imitate the movements of the tikling bird as it walks around through tall grass and between tree branches. People use bamboo poles to perform this Filipino traditional dance. Tinikling is composed of three basic steps which include singles, doubles, and hops. 

2. Itik-Itik

Itik-Itik folk dance

Photo credits to Philippines Tourism – India Office

The itik-itk is named after a species of duck (itik), whose movements the dance imitates. This example of Philippine folk dance from Surigao del Sur mimics how the itik walks and splashes water to attract a mate.

3. Maglalatik

Maglalatik folk dance

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Maglalatik, a folk dance in Luzon, is not just any other traditional dance in the Philippines that mimics the movements of animals. This dance in the Philippines has a meaning. It is a mock war dance that depicts a fight over coconut meat, a highly-prized food. 

The Filipino folk dance is broken into four parts: two devoted to the battle and two devoted to reconciling. The dancing men wear coconut shells as part of their costumes, and they hit them in rhythm with the music. Maglalatik is danced in the religious procession during the fiesta of Biñan, Laguna as an offering to San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.

4. Binasuan

binasuan philippine folk dances

Photo credits to bayambang.gov.ph

Another folk dance in the Philippines is binasuan. Binasuan, another folk dance in Luzon, originated in Bayambang, Pangasinan. The word “binasuan” means “with the use of drinking glasses.” It is one of the most challenging Filipino dances as the dancers need to balance glasses on their heads and in their hands as they move. What makes it more difficult is that the glasses are filled with rice wine, which makes any misstep a messy mistake. 

5. Singkil

Singkil philippine folk dances

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Singkil is a Mindanao folk dance that originated from the Maranao people and is based on the story in the Darangen, the pre-Islamic Maranao interpretation of the ancient Hindu Indian epic, the Ramayana. 

This tribal dance in the Philippines means “to entangle the feet with disturbing objects such as vines or anything in your path”. The lead dancer, in the role of Putri Gandingan (the Darangen name for Sita), graciously manipulates either fans, scarves, or her hands while she steps in and out of closing bamboo poles. The poles are arranged in either a parallel, rectangular, or criss-cross fashion. The singkil dance is one of the most popular Philippine folk dances.

6. Kappa Malong-Malong

Kappa Malong-Malong philippine folk dances

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Kappa Malong-Malong is a cultural dance in the Philippines influenced by Muslims. The malong is a tubular garment, and the folk dance essentially shows the many ways it can be worn. This traditional dance in the Philippines is not only for women though, there is also a men’s version of the dance since they wear malongs in different ways.

7. Cariñosa

If there’s one type of folk dance in the Philippines that will surprise you, it’s Cariñosa Philippine folk dance. You might think that most of the Philippine folk dances include women characters that have a shy and Maria Clara personality. While it’s true, Carinosa dance is a Filipino cultural dance made for flirting, hence it’s a courtship dance in the Philippines.

The dancers make a number of flirtatious movements as they peek out at one another behind fans or handkerchiefs.

8. Sayaw sa Bangko

Another example of Philippine folk dance that will test your skills is the Sayaw sa Bangko (dancing on a chair). It is performed on top of a narrow bench. To ace this ethnic dance in the Philippines, dancers need good balance as they go through a series of movements that include some impressive acrobatics. So if you want a challenging folk dance, try Sayaw sa Bangko.

9. Pandanggo sa Ilaw

Just like Binasuan, Pandanggo sa Ilaw is a game of balancing glasses, only with candles inside. Dancers have to balance three oil lamps: one on the head, and one in each hand. It’s a lively Philippine folk dance that originated on Lubang Island in Occidental Mindoro. The music is in 3/4 time and is usually accompanied by castanets. So if you’re always game for challenging Filipino dances, try Pandanggo sa Ilaw.

The Pandanggo sa Ilaw is similar to a Spanish Fandango, but the Pandanggo is performed while balancing three oil lamps.

10. Pandanggo Oasiwas

The Pandanggo Oasiwas is a type of dance in the Philippines similar to the Pandanggo sa Ilaw, and is typically performed by fishermen to celebrate a bountiful catch. In Pandanggo Oasiwas folk dance, the lamps are placed in cloths or nets and swung around as the dancers circle and sway.

11. Kuratsa

The Kuratsa is considered a courtship dance in the Philippines. This Filipino dance has three parts. First is where the couple performs a waltz. Second, the music sets a faster pace as the man pursues the woman around the dance floor in a chase. Lastly, the music becomes even faster as the man wins over the woman with his mating dance. What an interesting folk dance in the Philippines, right?

12. Pantomina

Pantomina is another courtship dance in the Philippines. It is a regular feature of festivities in Bicol, and is said to mimic the movement of doves in courtship.

National Dance of the Philippines

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Ever since, there has been a debate about the national folk dance of the Philippines. Some people say it’s Tinikling while others say it’s Cariñosa Philippine folk dance.

However, according to Teddy Atienza, Heraldry Section Chief of National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), through an interview with GMA News’ I-Juander, there is no official national folk dance of the Philippines. 

These Filipino dances are not just a way of expressing oneself but they also serve as a Filipino identity and a legacy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Philippine Folk Dances

Q: What is folk dance?

A: Folk dance is a popular dance considered as part of the tradition or custom of a particular person. Like others, folk dance in the Philippines comes from the culture and tradition of the Filipino people.

Q: What are the 5 types of Philippine folk dance?

A: There are five types of folk dances in the Philippines namely: Maria Clara Dance, Cordillera Dance, Muslim Dance, Rural Dance, and Tribal Dance. These Philippine folk dances illustrate the fiesta spirit and love of life; best-known type of Filipino dance.

Q: What is the National Dance of the Philippines?

A: Ever since, there has been a debate about the National Dance of the Philippines. Some people say it’s Tinikoling while others say it’s Carinosa dance.

However, according to Teddy Atienza, Heraldry Section Chief of National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), through an interview with GMA News’ I-Juander, there is no official national dance in the Philippines. 

Q: What are the famous dances in the Philippines?

A: From singkil to binasuan, here’s a list of the famous dances in the Philippines featuring Philippine folk dance and its origin:

  • Tinikling – Leyte
  • Itik-Itik – Surigao del Sur
  • Maglalatik – Biñan, Laguna
  • Binasuan – Pangasinan
  • Singkil – Lake Lanao
  • Kappa Malong-Malong – Maranao in Mindanao
  • Cariñosa – Panay Island
  • Sayaw sa Bangko – Pangasinan
  • Pandanggo sa Ilaw – Lubang Island, Mindoro
  • Pandanggo Oasiwas – Lingayen, Pangasinan
  • Kuratsa – Samar Island
  • Pantomina – Bicol

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