Characteristically a hardworking
group of people, the Filipinos exhibit work and occupation even in their
dances. Occupational dances depict the lifestyle and daily work of the
people living in various topographies. The fishing villages from north to
south of the archipelago developed folk dances depicting their customs in
the workplace. The Visayans created a dance called the Panulo,
which literally means fishing at sea in the night with only the petroleum
gas as light This dance offers wholesome enjoyment to the barrio folks of
Cadiz, Negros Occidental after an abundant catch during fine weather.
Similarly, the An Labasero (fresh fish-vendor) of Catbalogan, Samar depicts
the simple fisher folk who, after vending fish, merrily dances on his way
home together with his friends and neighbors. Like the dance An
Labasero, the Rigatones (fish
vendor) shows a livelihood dance where a fisherman celebrates his good
sales by dancing and drinking. Salat ti Alat (fish
container) also shows a dance after a successful fishing expedition. The
people from Zambales also perform this dance. The Mananagat
on the other hand, mimics fish catching and gathering. Performed by the
Cebuano, this dance pictures men holding their paddles while women scoop
water out of the banca. Apart from catching fish, there are also dances
while drying fish. Pamulad Isda is the fish-drying
dance of Negros done during summer when fish abound.
Far north of the Philippine is Kin-naras
a dance from Cabugao, Ilocos Sur depicting the various ways of catching
fish. It is a graceful dance, allowing the dancers to display their skills
in trapping and catching fish with their bare hands. In Tawi-tawi, the
southern part of the Philippines, is an occupational dance called
Tauti (catfish) which vividly portrays the difficulty of
catching the tauti.
In an agricultural country like the Philippines, the ricefield is
practically the everyday-life space for many Filipinos. The occupational
dance called Buhay sa Bukid (Life on the Farm)
features working in the ricefield. Pagtatanim
(rice planting) displays the tedious work of bending the body and stooping
forward for almost the entire day while planting rice. To ease the burden of
work they sing, play and jest to the accompaniment of a guitar.
Paggapas (harvesting) is danced when the palay (rice)
is ready for harvest. Paggi-ik (threshing) is also
a dance done by treading the harvested palay to separate the grain from the
stalks, or sometimes by striking them against bamboo poles.
Paghuhugas in the province of Laguna is a similar dance
activity portraying the swinging and striking of rice stalks with musical
accompaniment. Pahangin (winnowing) is the women's
role of separating the unhusked grain from the chaff by tossing them atop an
elevated construction to be blown by the wind. The most exciting of all
these planting activities is the Bayuhan (pounding
rice) where all barrio folks gather to celebrate and taste the fresh grain.
The occasion is usually done during full moon when the moonlight can witness
the pounding, dancing, singing, eating and merrymaking. This merriment is
customarily done specifically in the central plain of Bulacan province.
From these festivities, other dance types also evolved the Katlob,
that pictures men courting ladies while harvesting.
Balangbang from Pangasinan portrays a dance after a series of
planting and harvesting activities for relaxation and fun.
The Tiruray of Cotabato highlight their hard work in a dance named
Mag-asik (sowing seeds). The B'laans meanwhile have the
Maral which is a series of dances depicting the
stages in upland rice planting. It starts from the mabah,
the farmer's search for the kaingin (swidden)
area; the almigo or clearing of the forest; the
amla or the planting stage which ends with the
kamto, the harvest by women. Upland rice planting
is also the subject of a Manobo dance named Talapak.
The talapak is a unique planting stick used to dig a hole where the
grain or seeds are placed.
Other economic-based activities of the people is
performed by a dance called Mananguete (coconut
wine maker). Here, the dancer starts with sharpening the sangot
(scythe) followed by cleaning the Kawit (bamboo container) and then
climbing the coconut tree. Afterwards, there is the extraction of the sap,
squeezing and straining the sap and finally tasting the tuba or
The Pinuhag is an
occupational dance of Bicol province demonstrating the gathering of honey
from hives, closely akin to the Aeta dance called Pulot Panilan
performed by a honey collector. Pabirik
is a dance activity of the Bicolano imitating the movement of gold panners.
The Ilocano of Paoay, Ilocos Norte, noted for
wearing fine cotton cloth called Abel perform a dance called
Binatbatan. This depicts the beating of cotton
pods to separate the seeds from the fibers with the use of two sticks called
batbat. The dancers jump and hop outside and
between parallel sticks on the floor in time with the song and music. The
stick beaters interchangeably perform with the dancers and vice-versa.
The musical accompaniment follows the fast or slow beating of the
In the coconut-rich province of Laguna in the
Southern Luzon region abounds the latik (coconut
residue). This inspired the barrio folks to dance the Maglalatik.
After the huskers finish their work, they drink and have fun by using the
coconut shells attached to the various parts of their body as percussive
instruments. The Tanobong named after a kind of
long coarse grass in Pangasinan, depicts the different steps in making
From among the tribal groups of the Cordillera
mountains working is fun and happiness is reflected in the dance called
Ragragsakan literally means happy, is a work-dance
of the Kalinga women as they carry baskets on their heads skillfully
balancing them while traversing the narrow trail to the river. In the same
light, the Ibaloi performs their dance Bendian or
Bendean where baskets are carried on the back of women dancers
filled with working stuff and sometimes food for the family after the day's
work in the mountains.
The Filipinos by nature love to dance and work at
the same time, and these are truly reflected in their occupational dances.