What Is the History of Pandanggo Sa Ilaw?

Pandanggo sa Ilaw, which translates as Dance of Lights, is a waltz-style, playful folk dance that showcases a unique fusion of local and western indigenous dance forms. Originating in Lubang Island, Mindoro in the Philippines, it is usually performed during festivities and special occasions.

The word “pandanggo” is derived from the Spanish word “fandango,” which is also a popular dance in Portugal. Similar to the original fandango folk dance, Pandanggo sa Ilaw requires excellent balance and incorporates clapping and lively steps danced in a three-fourths beat. The light refers to three oil lamps that the women dancers balance on the head and at the back of each hand. Candles in clear glasses have long replaced the oil lamps. Pandanggo sa Ilaw is usually danced in couples, with both the women and men wearing traditional dresses.

Pandanggo sa Ilaw simulates the light and flight of fireflies at dusk or dawn. It depicts the courtship of a young man to a maiden that captured his interest. In Lingayen, Pangasinan, Pandanggo sa Ilaw is called “Oasiwas,” or swinging. Colonel Antonio R. Buenaventura, a National Artist and a professor at the Conservatory of Music in the University of the Philippines, composed the music that accompanies the Pandanggo sa Ilaw dance.