What Are the Characteristics of Ethnic Dance in Philippines?

Each ethnic dance in the Philippines reflects the way of life of the many ethnolinguistic groups scattered all over the archipelago. Every dance has unique characteristics, but one thing is common in all the dances: their steps, colors and rhythms have not been substantially impacted by colonization.

The dances of ethnic groups in the country are a form of personal, social and spiritual expression. Aside from the fluid motions, the dances incorporate music through chanting and instruments. Each tribe has a unique ritual dance that connects the physical world to the spiritual world. The movements are highly a popular means of entertainment and dramatic expressions. Many old ethnic dances honor the spirits and are performed to seek blessing at harvest time or for protection against evil spirits.

Births, deaths, weddings and baptisms are often celebrated with joyful music. Each tribe follows a unique rite. The Tinguian tribe that inhabits the mountain province of Abra dances an ancient dance where the elders transfer their energies to the newborn child. The innards of selected animals are rubbed and crowned on the baby for good omen and good health. In case of death, the whole community mourns through song and dance, believing that these help in leading their loved one’s spirit to the spiritual world.