World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Barangay Dance Company

DANCE ORIGIN: Philippines
Rona Ronquillo
First Appearance in SF EDF:

Barangay Dance Company of San Francisco promotes preservation, awareness, understanding, and appreciation of Philippine cultural heritage through research, outreach, and presentation of folk dances and music. Barangay or balangay was a large swift boat that carried the first Malay families to the Philippines, and the word came to mean a clan or family. Barangay Dance Company is a family—immigrant and American-born, young, and young-at-heart—bound by a mutual love for Philippine dance and music.


BarangayTITLE: Tau Sug (People of the Current)
GENRE: Indigenous (Pangalay)
COSTUME DESIGN: Patricia Valera
DANCERS: Marijoy Angeles, Marjorie Anicete, Christine Aquino, Gina Battad, Joel Cayabyab, Rommel Conclara, Kevin Cortes, Paolo Fonacier, Garrett Hom, Aikenne Mauricio, Jonathan Mercado, Crystel Presa, Emily Piros, Evan Reyes, Jan Salas, Jonathan Tioseco
Richard Fernandez (kulintang), Mikaela Reyes (agong), Rona Ronquillo (agong), Bonifacio Valera (dabakan)


People of the Current
refers to the Tausug, an Islamic tribal group in the Sulu Archipelago, Philippines. The Tausug live beside, on, and in water: diving for pearls in turquoise waters and navigating treacherous tides of the Sulu, China, and Celebes Seas. In this staging of Tausug dance, divers descend into clear waters and then ride home on a colorful vinta boat. Intricate movements and abrupt transitions reflect violent waves and currents as well as the Tausug’s unpredictable fierceness. They are called Tau Maisug “brave people” for three centuries of resistance of Spanish colonialization. They regard themselves superior to other Philippine Muslims and remain combative. One proverb says: Hanggang maybuhay, may pag asa: Never admit defeat as long as you live.

The pangalay style is distinctively Asian among Southern Philippine dances. The dancer moves up and down, torso rigid, feet planted on the ground, while the rest of the body moves with intricate dexterity. Brass janggay fingernails simulate corals. (They come from an earlier Buddhist tradition.) The patterned male headgear and cloths slung across the shoulder are made of hand-woven Tausug textile (habul). The skirt (patadjung) with its imported patterns has many uses: as head cover, waistband, blanket, or hammock. A satin blouse (biyatawi) with tambuku buttons is worn with silk and brocade sawwal trousers.

At least five players are needed for the kulingtan ensemble: playing kulingtan—a graduated series of eight to eleven small gongs—and gandang drums, a large gong, and another set of paired gongs. For vocals or solos, Tausang also play a gabbang xylophone with fourteen to twenty-four keys in seven-note scales.

Jay Loyola, scholar of Philippine indigenous dance, created the piece. Radel Josef Lopez is collaborative musical director for indigenous instruments.


TITLE: Pakidwa
Dance Origin: Palawan
: Ritual
Jay Loyola
: Gina Battad, Joel Cayabyab, Zheena Cayabyab, Rommel Conclara, Richard Fernandez, Tiffany Estrellado, Aikenne Mauricio, Jemelee Peralta, Emily Piros, Kimberly Requesto, Nicko Requesto, Evan Reyes, Jan Salas, Geraldine Santos, Jonathan Tioseco, Allan Tina
Christine Aquino, Liza Erpelo, Vickie Hafalia, Robert Lopez, Ron Moon, Marjorie Rubio, Bonifacio Valera  

In Philippine Tagbanua communities, Pakidwa is a prayer: there is no separation between dance, theater, ceremonial prayer, and the physical well-being of the community. In this ceremony, a masikampo male tribal leader dresses like a babaylan shamanic priestess: he will sanctify the union of Tagbanua couples. The dancers wear red to drive away evil spirits, and wave dried pandan leaves to signal the deities crossing the threshold of the spirit world. Then they drink tabad rice wine prepared from the earliest spring buds. The wine binds the individual to the group and insures the union will flow as smooth as wine. It also invites the presence of the gods, as it has an excellent flavor and it's a pleasure found only on Earth. In the final dance, the intricate footwork is another well-chosen offering: it's a favorite of the dieties, as are the musical instruments, the babandil brass gong and long bamboo karatung.

The Tagbanua tribe lives in the southern highlands of Palawan, southwestern Philippines, and they are probably one of the island's original inhabitants. They recognize the existence of a supreme being in another realm as well as spirits who inhabit places in nature. Ritual offerings are made to please the gods and to ask for permission to clear or live in new areas of the forest, to provide luck for hunters and fishers, and to cure ailments or protect people from physical danger. Community ceremonies also ask the spirits for abundance, fertility, rain, and happy unions. If the gods are delighted by Pakidwa, they will bless the couples with fertility and a happy life.

Choreographer Jay Loyola set the piece for Barangay in 2009. Loyola is a leading Philippine indigenous dance practitioner: his pieces are performed in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. He trained under Lucrecia Urtula as Dance Director for Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company and worked with New York's Elisa Monte Dance and Conseil International des Organisations de Festivals de Folklore et d'Arts Traditionnels in Europe.


TITLE OF PIECE: T’boliDance: Helobung, Tagabili, Sloong,K’nebang, Uyayi
GENRE: T’boli
: Eric Solano
DANCERS: Ellen Rae Cachola, Julius Claros, Victoria Hafalia, Major Julian, Gilbert Laylay, Jordan Peralta, Kimberly Requesto, Klyden Roca, Joel Santander, Jet Tagle, Renalyn Tan Salazar, Andrew Tina, Mark Tolentino, Shelly Tomas, Steven Tomas
MUSICIANS: Rona Ronquillo, Marieville Sales, Joel Santander, Eric Solano

Of the thousands of islands that make up the Philippine Archipelago, the grouping of islands in the south, known as Mindanao, is the largest and contains one of the Philippines most important watersheds, Lake Sebu. Surrounded by rainforests, the shores and mountain slopes around this vital lake are home to many significant tribal groups. The Tiboli tribe (T’bolis) known for their extraordinary woven fabrics, embroidery, beadwork and brassware are one of the last remaining tribes whose customs and traditions are still preserved.

Among the many tribal groups in the Philippines, the Tiboli are renowned for their personal adornment, and heir tribal ethos includes strong philosophies about the importance of beauty. They can be recognized by their distinct and colorful clothing made of t’nalak, a specially woven earth-tone cloth covered with bright embroidery, and their many body adornments consisting of jewelry, headdresses, tattoos and facial ornamentation. Because they consider white teeth unattractive, they embellish theirs with tree bark sap and occasionally gold. Women wear fancy hairdos with combs and beads and, during travel and farming, a large circular hat made of woven bamboo and vibrantly colored fabrics.

The Tiboli is an animistic society with an extensive pantheon, which includes mythical animals and gods of nature with great powers. Their dance and music are expressions of their elaborate customs and belief system.

Costumed in typical dress, Barangay Dance Company performs four dances from the Tibioli’s rich repertoire. The opening dance Helobung portrays the complex beauty of the Tiboli people. In Tagabili, the oldest Tiboli maiden prepares to pick from four suitors with the aid of her sisters, while the third dance, Slaong K’nebang, shows off the women’s elaborate hats. The suite concludes with Uyayi, where Tiboli mothers are depicted cradling their babies and offering thanks to the heavens for their offspring.

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